Positional astronomy: latitude and longitude; horizontal coordinates; equatorial coordinates (right ascension and declination); sidereal time; conversion between coordinate systems.
Gravitation: development of the heliocentric model of the solar system (from Ptolemy to Copernicus); retrograde motion; Kepler’s laws; Newton’s law of universal gravitation; Newton’s physical explanation of Kepler’s laws.
The nature of light: light as particles and waves; blackbody radiation; Wien and Stefan-Boltzmann laws; absorption and emission line spectra; Kirchoff’s laws; line series of Hydrogen and explanation by the Bohr model; the Doppler effect.
Telescopes: refractors; reflectors; magnification; light gathering power; chromatic and spherical aberration; angular resolution; active and adaptive optics; detectors; spectrographs; atmospheric windows; radio, IR, UV, and X-ray telescopes; space telescopes.
The solar system: terrestrial planets; gas giant planets; comets and asteroids; formation of the solar system; extrasolar planets.
Properties of stars: parallax and distance measurements; flux and luminosity; the magnitude scale; photometric bands and colours; dust extinction and reddening; bolometric fluxes and luminosities; spectral classification; the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram; main-sequence lifetimes; mass-luminosity relation.
Stellar structure: the equations of stellar structure (mass conservation, hydrostatic equilibrium, energy production, radiative transport); nuclear reactions in stars; energy transport mechanisms; solar neutrinos.
Stellar evolution: the evolution of low and high mass stars; red giants; white dwarfs; planetary nebulae; the horizontal branch; supernovae; neutron stars; stellar clusters; binary stars; star formation and Jeans analysis.
After completing this module students are expected to be able to:
Explain basic facts, principles, terminology and nomenclature used in astronomy.
Calculate the positions of objects on the sky using celestial coordinate systems and the times when they are best observed.
Understand Newton’s law of universal gravitation, its relation to Kepler’s laws, and use it to perform simple calculations.
Discuss the reasons for the use of telescopes in astronomy, and the effect of the atmosphere on astronomical observations at different wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Understand the relationships between flux, luminosity, distance, apparent and absolute magnitudes, and extinction, and use them to perform simple calculations.
Describe and discuss the differences between terrestrial and gas giant planets, and the physical reasons for these, in terms of theories for the origin of planetary systems.
Explain the differences between continuous, emission, and absorption line spectra, in terms of the underlying physical principles.
Explain the physical reasons and principles that determine stellar structure and evolution, such as hydrostatic equilibrium, energy generation, radiation pressure and transport.