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This course introduces physics principles found in astronomy. What are the laws that keep objects orbiting in space? What explains how telescopes work, how stars shine, and how astronomers can measure the universe? How did Einstein alter classical physics and how is “relativity” observed in astronomical events?  This is an intermediate-level class with some math. A calculator is needed. It is best suited to those acquainted with astronomy, the Solar System, and stars. However, all are welcome regardless of their background in astronomy. Do join us!

Register below!

The class meets online Wednesdays, 7-9 PM, from June 14 to July 19 (New dates.)$75

Course Outline

June 14- Force and Motion
Introduction. Kepler’s laws of Planetary motion. Newton’s laws all motion. Law of Universal Gravitation.
Applied to orbits, applied to gravity acceleration on a planet. Weight vs. mass.
Centripetal force and circular motion. The use of gravity assists in space missions.

June 21- Physics of Light Waves
General characteristics of all waves. Specific characteristics of light waves. Unique “medium” of light waves.
Color. Visual spectrum, prisms, diffraction gratings.

June 28-The Electromagnetic Family of Waves
EM waves: gamma, X, UV, visible, IR, microwaves, radio. Similarities and differences.
Spectra: continuous, emission, absorption. Laser spectrum. How star spectra reveal composition and surface temperature. Wien’s Law.
Spectra applied to planets.
The Doppler Effect is observed in star spectra.

July 5-Physics in Star Processes
Temperature, absolute zero, temperature scales. Four methods of heat transfer. Adiabatic and non-adiabatic transfer.
Heat transfers are illustrated within astronomy events.
Inverse square law of light.
Star brightness and luminosity– apparent magnitude (m) vs. absolute magnitude (M). Magnitude scales.
Obtaining star distances from m and M via the Modulus equation if M is independently measured.

July 12- Star classes; Cosmology
Review of key stellar physics. Star classes are based on temperature. Flux energy. Stefan’s Law, as applied to star class and longevity.
Introduction to cosmology. The Big Bang. The universal background radiation. and the “average” temperature of the universe.

July 19- Relativity
Einstein’s breakthroughs: Special and General relativity. Examples from astronomy events. A new interpretation of gravity.
Gravitation and EM waves. Black holes. Gravity waves- a new research tool

Instructor-Dr. Kenneth Katta
Ken has degrees in physics, nuclear engineering, optometry, and international relations. He continues with graduate-level studies in astrophysics, planetary science, and cosmology courses from the Australian National University. In addition to 40 years in both military and civilian optometric practice, he served in the U.S. Air Force – in aerial combat in  Vietnam and in medical aerospace research. He retired as a Lt. Colonel. Dr. Katta lectures at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and is active in a Florida astronomy club besides the AAA.