Course Content in Outline Form.
Check instructor's web page for important due dates.
Text: M.J. Crowe, "Theories of the World from Antiquity to the
Revolution", Ch 1-9
Week -1- Description of Celestial Motion; key ideas from Aristotle's "Physics" pertaining to motion; Greek Astronomy before Ptolemy;Some mathematical techniques used by the ancient astronomers;sources of ancient Chinese astronomy (Zhou bi suan jing document)
Week -2 - The Ptolemaic system; discussion of a philosophical position called "Save the Phenomena"; The Copernican system;Week -3- The Tychonic system;Johannes Kepler and the value of accurate measurements; Galileo Galilei exemplary experimentalist and precursor to Isaac Newton;
Week - 5- Normally a midterm exam held in this week. Check with instructor. Success of Newtonian mechanics in describing celestial mechanics; the importance of telescopes in the history of astronomy; Edmond Halley's contributions; determination of astronomical distances; significance of the Milky Way to understanding the galactic structure
Week - 6 - Thomas Wright , Immanuel Kant, and the disk theory of the galaxy; William Herschel's discoveries; Olber's paradox; cataloging nebulous objects.
Week - 7 - stellar parallax and the distance to stars; identification of chemical composition of distant bodies and the use of spectroscopy in astronomy; discovery of radiation outside the visible spectrum; William Huggins, pioneer of astronomical spectroscopy; Doppler shift; second written report(3-4 pages) due.Week - 8 - expanding the distance scale ,Henrietta Leavitt and the Cepheid Variables; the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram; the size of the Milky Way galaxy; Hubble and the extra-galactic nebulae
Week - 10 - Discovery of cosmic infra-red background radiation; successes of the Big Bang theory; paradoxes of the Big Bang theory and their resolution by the Inflationary Universe theory; dark matter or a failure of Newtonian gravity?; possible final states of the Universe; Term paper(6-8 pages) is due.
The course grade will be determined by two written reports(3-4 pages) ; on the term paper(6-8 pages) which will be on a subject chosen from a list of possible topics given by the instructor or approved by the instructor; on the field report describing the results of the determination of the earth's radius; and on the midterm and final exams. All written papers must include a bibliography whose entries are cited in the paper. At least one reference must be a book or refereed journal article. Web references are not refereed, so you can never be sure that what is written on a web page is not just some individual's point of view. The papers are to be factual reports and not personal essays. You can use the citation scheme that is standard for your major field of study.
1) two short papers (3-4 pages), due in
Weeks 4 and 7
OR 1 paper on the determination of the distance to the moon exercise or one short paper on a geometrical exercise of geocentric to heliocentic conversion.
2) term paper(6-8 pages), due in week 10
3) field exercise report on radius of the earth due in Week 8 or 9
4) midterm exam and final exam
A sampling of term paper or short paper subjects is, for example,
- Discussion of the "Save the Phenomena " position in ancient and
- How do the notions of a finite sized Universe and a beginning and end of time fit in with our every day experience of space and time?
- Discussion of the axiom that " nothing can be created from nothing" and the Inflationary Universe Theory
- What are the limits of scientific knowledge? Will we every come to a final theory?
- Compare the concepts of dark matter and celestial matter.
- Biographical account of a significant figure in astronomy with special emphasis on his/her scientific contributions
- Discussion of techniques in astronomy, e.g., spectroscopy, telescopes, methods of determining distances
- Discussion of the impact of revolutionary astronomical ideas on areas of human interest outside of the field of astronomy itself
-Report on the mathematical/scientific development of Astronomy in countries outside the Mediterranean basin. This should include as little mythology as possible, although some may be unavoidable.
-Discussion of some current area of research in astronomy, black holes, dark energy, etc.
- If you have a different topic in mind for the term paper or short paper, please clear it with the instructor before you start.
A List of some useful web sites
Useful web sites
Lectures on Modern Cosmology by Stephen Hawking http://www.hawking.org.uk/.
"The Once and Future Cosmos" : Scientific American Special Edition
Web site for the Rise of Natural Law, http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/kaniol/a360/natural_law.htm
U.S. Naval Observatory home
applications , http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications
Find your latitude and longitude
Astrometry, finding the precise locations and distances to the stars
plans for future astrometry missions GAIA satellite
ADA statement: Reasonable accomodation will be provided to any
student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities
and requests needed accomodation.
Academic Honesty statement: http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/senate/handbook/ch5a.htm