AY 20:  Basic Astronomy and the Galaxy          2008 Fall term	

Meets in 106 Robinson   Monday	  2:00-3:00PM 
			Wednesday 2:00-3:00PM 
                        Friday	  2:00-3:00PM

Final Exams are available in the box outside
Prof Phinney's office (125 Bridge).

Prof:  Sterl Phinney
        125 Bridge
        esp [at] tapir.caltech.edu

TAs:	Timothy Morton	
        1 Robinson
        tdm [at] astro.caltech.edu
	Office hours: 4-6pm Thursday

	Drew Newman
	220 Robinson
	anewman [at] astro.caltech.edu
	x 4987
	Office hours: 4-6pm Thursday

WWW: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~esp/ay20/

1. An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics (2nd Edition, 2007) 
by Bradley Carroll and Dale Ostlie ISBN 978-0805304022
(Pearson/Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings)

Textbook's website (errata, computer programs, data, links):


Introduction and overview; celestial sphere, time systems, units
Telescopes, observatories, surveys, astronomical data, web resources
Celestial mechanics, Kepler's laws, binary stars and their uses
Electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with matter
Stellar atmospheres, classification of stellar spectra
Stellar interiors, energy generation, main sequence
The Sun, neutrino astronomy
Post-MS evolution, stellar pulsation
White dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, gravitational wave astronomy,
Close binaries, stellar interactions, novae, supernovae,
Interstellar matter, star formation, stellar luminosity and mass functions
Extrasolar planets
Star clusters and elementary stellar dynamics
Our Galaxy: structure, content, rotation, kinematics, stellar populations
Galactic morphology and spiral structure, dark matter, galaxy evolution

OBSERVING PROJECT and FIELD TRIP: On Mon Oct 13, you must submit a
two-page observing proposal to use the Palomar 1.5m telescope (P60)
[or optionally, the 1m Table Mountain (T40) telescope] for an
observing program of your choice (using not more than a total of 4
hours of telescope time).  Page 1 should explain your project, why it
is interesting, and what you expect to learn/show. Page 2 should list
the object[s] to be observed, and the (approximate) dates, exposure
times and filters.  The P60 time will be queue scheduled from mid October
to mid November, while the T40 time may be executed as a remote
observing session.

Information on the P60 is at
http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~derekfox/P60/  and
Information on the T40 is at
The best/most feasible observing programs will be 
selected by a "Time allocation commitee", and executed during mid-Oct to
mid-Nov. The entire class will then participate in reducing and 
interpreting the data during the final 3 weeks of class.

I would also like to schedule a field trip to the Palomar observatory.
This year, new moons are on Oct 28 and Nov 27, while midterms are
Oct 29-Nov 4. So the best dates for a Fri or Sat field trip would be Nov
7 or 8 (waxing gibbous moon) and Nov 21 or 22 (waning crescent moon).
The best dates will be selected in class, and fine-tuned a few days before
depending on weather forecasts and the fire situation.

There will be approximately weekly homework sets due in class on
Monday, an open textbook midterm, and a closed-book final exam.
Your grade will be a mostly monotonic function of
lab writeups, homework, midterm and final.
g = [0.4(sum of homework scores) + 0.15(observing/lab writeups)
+ 0.2(score on midterm exam) +0.25(score on final exam)].

LATE HOMEWORK POLICY: Homework extensions of up to 24 hours can be
granted by Sterl or the TA.  Longer extensions can only be
approved by Sterl.  No late homework will be accepted unless one of
these prior arrangements has been made.  Unapproved late homework will
not be graded.

COLLABORATION POLICY: (for details see the menu link to the full course
collaboration policy). Collaboration on the homework is NOT ALLOWED.
You have to do the homework all by yourself.  You
may consult books and published papers, but not old assignments or
those of other students.  First try every homework problem BY YOURSELF
without discussing it with anyone.  

If you get stuck, you can TALK about the homework with the TA or your
fellow students, but all exchanges of information must be aural and
general in nature (i.e. "Did you remember to include Comptonisation"
is ok.  "The right answer is V k squared over pi squared" is NOT
ok). Visual exchanges of information are strictly forbidden -you may
not show each other equations, graphs, or computer programs in any

For the observing project, the rules are different: sharing of computer 
programs and graphs is encouraged!

In real research, no one else knows the answer to the problems you
work on (otherwise why would you be doing them?), so the most
important thing you can learn from homework is how to think and solve
for yourself, and be confident in your answers.