Astronomy 102: Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos
This course is a sequel to but independent of Astronomy 101: Essentials of the Solar System. This “102” course covers objects beyond the Solar System: stars, galaxies, the universe. It also reviews the foundations of astronomy: physics and telescopes. It can be taken without previously taking “101”.
Tuesday, April 27: Understanding the Scale of the Universe
From Ptolemy’s geocentric to Copernicus heliocentric world. Kepler, Newton and the triumph of math, Le Verrier’s Neptune, and the use of parallax to measure distance. View of the Universe prior to 1920 and ‘spiral nebulae’. Shapley / Curtis debate, Hubble, super novae, dark matter/energy. The Astronomer’s ruler: AUs, light years, parsecs… Could the universe be infinite?
Tuesday, May 04: Astronomy: Some Physics and Tools of the Trade
Telescopes, big and small. The nature of light and electromagnetic radiation. Spectroscopy, radio astronomy, high energy astronomy and some future missions. Inverse square law, Magnitude and luminosity. Real science that amateur astronomers can do today: determine the shape of near-earth asteroids, measure the distance to a quasar, detect exoplanets.
Tuesday, May 18: Stars: The Building Blocks of the Universe
We examine the source of energy in stars. How is a star born? The Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram for describing and classifying stars is studied. Where our sun fits into all this and why Carl Sagan was right when he said that we are all made of “Star stuff” ? The death of stars: the long boring goodbyes for small stars contrasted to the violent destruction of giant stars and the formation of black holes.
Tuesday, May 25: Galaxies
What are galaxies? What is shape of the Milky Way and why does it look like a band of light in the night sky? Our Milky Way Galaxy, how did it form? Where are we in the galaxy? Galaxy types, distribution, shapes, sizes and distances. Amateur telescopes and galaxies we can capture from our own backyards… a tour.
Thursday, May 27: More Than Just Galaxies
Funky galaxies and galaxy collisions. Future of the milky way and what happens when we bump into Andromeda in 4 billion years. Starburst galaxies, active galactic nuclei. Quasars and gamma ray bursts. How to measure fantastic distances in space with your backyard telescope.
Tuesday, June 01: Theories of Space and Time
19th century physics before Einstein. Special and general relativity. Proving Einstein right. Steady state vs. the Big Bang. Cosmic microwave background radiation. Hubble deep field, inflation, Universe open or closed? Drake equation, SETI and ET phone home – interdict vs. dark forest.
For anyone willing to stick around after class ends and if weather conditions permit we will do live observing (via: Zoom) using the instructor’s computer controlled telescopes and cameras to highlight and directly observe and explore many of the objects and subjects discussed in the evening’s lecture and discussed in the course material.
Location: Classes will be online using Zoom. Sign-in with an ID code given to you the weekend before the first day of class. Class recordings available during the course and for 4 weeks after.
Time: 7:30-9:30 PM, mostly Tuesdays; session #5 will meet on Thursday, May 27. Note the time!
Cost: $60, AAA Members only. Not a Member? Join for $35.
Instructor: Alfredo Viegas is a member of the board of the AAA and teaches the Urban Astrophotography(101/102) courses of the AAA. He is a life-long astronomy nut, who still has his first telescope which he got for Christmas in 1976. Alfredo has a M.S. in Astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University. While in college he ran the public observing program at Van Vleck Observatory and contributed to on-going astronomy research at Wesleyan University. Alfredo works in finance by day and captures photons at night.