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Astronomy

Department Office
Darwin Hall 125
707 664-2119
www.phys-astro.sonoma.edu

Department Chair
Joseph S. Tenn

Administrative Coordinator
Gayle Walker

Faculty
Lynn R. Cominsky, *John R. Dunning Jr.
Enrique W. Izaguirre, Saeid Rahimi,
Gordon G. Spear, Joseph S.Tenn, Brock L. Weiss
*Faculty Early Retirement Program Course Plan / Individual Class Descriptions


Program offered
Minor in Astronomy

Astronomy, offered as a minor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the study of the universe beyond the earth's atmosphere. The field today deals with some of the most important questions in science, such as the origin of the universe, the processes by which the elements are formed, and the life cycles of stars and galaxies. Modern astronomy leans heavily on the concepts and techniques of physics and mathematics. A result of this dependence on other fields is that degrees in astronomy are generally granted at the graduate, not the baccalaureate, level. The minor in astronomy, with a B.S. in physics, is an excellent preparation for graduate study in astronomy.

Career fields for which an astronomy minor would be beneficial include aerospace, astronomy, atmospheric science, education, planetary geology, and geophysics.

A variety of courses are available within the minor, including laboratory work that utilizes the on-campus observatory, rigorous courses in astrophysics, and a number of descriptive courses for students whose major interests lie in other fields.

The SSU Observatory, in operation since 1976, houses two telescopes, a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain and a 10-inch Newtonian, with auxiliary instrumentation for CCD imaging, photoelectric photometry, and spectroscopy. The Newtonian is computer controlled. The observatory is used by students in laboratory and lecture courses and for independent study and research.

Minor in Astronomy

Completion of a minimum of 20 units in astronomy and other physical science courses, at least 12 of which must be in astronomy, constitutes a minor in astronomy. Interested students should consult with an advisor in the department of physics and astronomy.

Astronomy Courses (ASTR)

Classes are offered in the semesters indicated. Please see the Schedule of Classes for most current information and faculty teaching assignments.

100 Descriptive Astronomy (3) / Fall, Spring

Lecture, 3 hours. Historic astronomy, Newton's Laws, gravitation, atomic structure, light, and telescopes. The solar system, space flight, stars and stellar evolution, interstellar matter, star clusters, galaxies, the universe. A survey designed primarily for non-science majors. Satisfies GE, category B1 or B3 (Physical Sciences).

231 Introductory Observational Astronomy (2) / Fall

Lecture, 1 hour; laboratory, 3 hours. Principles of astronomical measurement techniques with field and laboratory studies of astronomical objects. Identification of constellations, astronomical coordinates, use of the telescope, techniques in imaging, photometry, and spectroscopy. Satisfies GE, category B1 or B3 (Physical Sciences) and GE laboratory requirements. Prerequisite: previous or concurrent enrollment in ASTR 100.

303 Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Interstellar Travel (3) / Fall

Lecture, 3 hours. A largely descriptive survey. Theories of the origin of life; conditions for extraterrestrial intelligence; problems of communication; space flight and interstellar travel. Satisfies GE, category B3 (Specific Emphasis in Natural Sciences). Prerequisite: ASTR 100.

305 Frontiers in Astronomy (3) / Fall

Lecture, 3 hours. A survey of recent developments in astronomy: exploration of the solar system; attempts to detect neutrinos from the sun; interstellar molecules, pulsars, quasars, x-ray and ultraviolet astronomy; new trends in cosmological thinking. Satisfies GE, category B3 (Specific Emphasis in Natural Sciences). Prerequisite: one course in astronomy.

331 Astronomical Imaging (2) / Spring

Lecture, 1 hour; laboratory, 3 hours. An introduction to the methods and techniques of astronomical imaging using digital images. The course will offer a practical approach to using charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors. Experience will be gained using the CCD camera at the SSU Observatory to obtain images of the moon, planets, stars, and nebulae. Topics to be covered include use of astronomical telescopes, planning observing programs, identifying astronomical objects, determining exposure times and image sizes, and CCD calibration techniques. Image processing techniques will be illustrated using several different image processing software packages. Prerequisite: ASTR 231 or consent of instructor.

350 Cosmology (3) / Spring

Lecture, 3 hours. A largely descriptive survey. Theories of the universe, as advocated by the Greeks, Newton, Einstein, Lemaître, Gamow, and Hoyle. Cosmological implications of black holes, quasars, and other recent discoveries. Satisfies GE, category B3 (Specific Emphasis in Natural Sciences). Prerequisite: ASTR 100.

380 Astrophysics: Stars (3)

Lecture, 3 hours. A quantitative study of the structure and evolution of stars, including stellar interiors and atmospheres, nucleosynthesis and late stages of stellar evolution. Prerequisites: PHYS 314 and MATH 211.

396 Selected Topics in Astronomy (1-3)

Lecture, 1-3 hours. A course of lectures on a single topic or set of related topics not ordinarily covered in the astronomy curriculum. The course may be repeated for credit with a different topic. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

411 Laboratory Instruction Practicum (1)

Laboratory, 3 hours. Presentation of experimental techniques and guidance of student activities in a lower-division astronomy laboratory under the supervision of the instructor in charge of the laboratory. Development and application of instructional experiments in astronomy. May be repeated for up to 3 units credit, with different subject matter in each repetition. Prerequisites: junior standing in physics and consent of instructor.

482 Advanced Observational Astronomy (2)

Spring Lecture, 1 hour; laboratory, 3 hours. An introduction to astronomical spectroscopy, photometry and astrometry with emphasis on techniques at the telescope, and data reduction. Observing program preparation, use of telescopes with auxiliary instrumentation, photographic and photoelectric techniques. Statistical treatment of data and the method of least squares. Prerequisites: ASTR 231, PHYS 209B and 210B, and MATH 161; or consent of instructor.

495 Special Studies (1-4) / Fall, Spring

The Department of Physics and Astronomy encourages independent study and considers it to be an educational undertaking. Students wishing to enroll for special studies are required to submit to their supervising faculty members proposals which outline their projects and exhibit specific plans for their successful completion.


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