Division III; Writing-Intensive;
This is not the current course catalog
We study all aspects of the Sun, our nearest star. This semester leads up to the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, the first eclipse whose totality crosses the U.S. from coast to coast in since 1918 and the first to be entirely within the US since 1776. In addition to discussing plans for observing the eclipse and what has been learned about the solar atmosphere from eclipse research, we discuss the solar interior (including the Nobel-prize-winning solar neutrino experiment and helioseismology), the photosphere, the chromosphere, the corona, and the solar wind. We discuss the Sun as an example of stars in general. We discuss both theoretical aspects and observational techniques, including work at recent total solar eclipses. We discuss results from current spacecraft, including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Sun Watcher (SWAP), and Hinode (Sunrise), and the new GOES/UVSI (Solar Ultraviolet Imager) run by an alumnus as well as additional Total Solar Irradiance measurements from ACRIMSAT and SORCE. As a special timely treat, we will discuss the role of solar observations in confirming Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity with the bending of light at the 1919 and 1922 total solar eclipses as well as gravitational redshift measurements in solar spectral lines, extending our discussion to the recent “chirp” of gravitational radiation reported in 2016 from LIGO. We also discuss our data analysis of recent transits of Mercury across the face of the Sun (most recently in May 2016) and the 2004 and 2012 transits of Venus across the face of the Sun as observed from Earth, the first such transits of Venus since 1882, as well as our work in observing transits of Venus from Jupiter with the Hubble Space Telescope and from Saturn with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
The Class: Type: tutorial; students will meet weekly with the professor in groups of two or three to discuss readings and make presentations, often in PowerPoint or Keynote format
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on four 5-page papers, discussions, and presentations; students will be expected to improve their writing throughout the course, with the aid of careful editing by and comments from the professor
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: Astronomy 111 or a 200-level Physics course
Distributions: Division III; Writing-Intensive;