Astronomy 360
Konrad A. Aniol,,
NOTE: Include your email address in the message if you send email from OutLook at CSULA. OutLook does not show the email address of mailers!
3-2100, BS 347/349

Basic facts you will learn:
The meaning of parallax
The importance of geometrical methods through the centuries in astronomy
The observational basis for the Ptolemaic geocentric model
The meaning of celestial matter to the ancients
The revolutionary worldview shift of heliocentrism
The impact of Newtonian mechanics on our understanding of the cosmos
The essential role of spectroscopy in understanding the cosmos
How astronomers met the challenge of measuring astronomical distances
The impact of General Relativity on our understanding of the cosmos
The observational basis for the expanding universe
The origin of the chemical elements
How dark matter and dark energy affect cosmological evolution

 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 Copernican 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; 

Recommended Text: M.J.Crowe,"Modern Theories of the Universe from Herschel to Hubble", Ch 1-9. This book may only be available used. The online lecture notes contain sufficient material to cover the second half of the course.
Week -4-  Isaac Newton and the Law of Universal Gravitation;  first written report(3-4 pages) due

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

The remaining time of the course may use as a supplement to the Lecture Notes a Scientific American compilation of articles on modern cosmology. This is listed below as the "Once and Future Universe". You can get your own copy or use a version on the A360 website.

Week - 9 -
Hubble's velocity-distance relationship to galaxies and the expanding Universe ; General Relativity and Albert Einstein ; Friedmann, Lemaitre and the Big Bang hypothesis; steady state universe theory; Field exercise on determination of Earth's radius is due(Check instructor's web page for due dates!).

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. Web references must include the url. 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. You may substitute one or both of these papers by the exercises listed below.
A geometrical exercise of geocentric to heliocentic conversion.
Determination of the distance to the moon exercise.
Tabulate and plot Messier objects distribution.
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

Approximate weighting scheme: The two short papers and midterm exam are worth 10 points each. The final exam, radius of the earth measurement and term paper are worth 20 points each. The course grade is based on a total of 90 points.

A sampling of term paper or short paper subjects is, for example,

- Discussion of the "Save the Phenomena " position in ancient and modern science
- 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

The Scientific American Compilation is here The Once and Future Universe.

  Web site for the  Rise of Natural Law,

U.S. Naval Observatory   home page
                                     applications ,

 Find your latitude and longitude

 Astrometry, finding the precise locations and distances to the stars

 Hipparcos satellite, results
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: