ASTR 101
Stars: From Suns to Black Holes Fall 2024
Division III

Class Details

Have you ever wondered what makes the Sun and stars shine and what they are made of? Do they evolve, and if so, how do they change? What are black holes, and how can they form? How do we find planets around other stars? Astronomy 101, a non-major, general introduction to the part of contemporary astronomy that includes how stars form and die, will provide answers to these questions. We will pay special attention to exciting discoveries made in the past decade. Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered, with their atmospheres being studied in detail by the James Webb Space telescope. For the first time, gravitational waves from merging black holes have been detected. In this course we will discuss the basic methods and instruments used in these and other astronomical observations and what they can teach us about the life cycle of stars. We will discuss what happens at the centers of stars, how stars evolve, and why some stars explode and form neutron stars and black holes. This course is independent of and on the same level as ASTR 102 (solar system) and 104 (galaxies/cosmology); students who have taken these courses are welcome.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory; lecture (two sessions per week), observing sessions (scattered throughout the semester), afternoon labs (five times per semester), and a planetarium demonstration. Planetarium and Roof-Observatory TAs will be available for consultation, in addition to the instructors, throughout the semester.
Limit: 48;12/lab
Expected: 30/lec
Class#: 1638
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two hour tests, a final exam, an observing portfolio, and lab reports
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first and second-year students
Unit Notes: non-major course
Distributions: Division III

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