This is a standalone honors section which also provides general education credit. It will be team taught by David Hedin and Matt Wiesner.
The course is an introduction to astronomical science extending from historical astronomy through the most recent discoveries of astrophysics including stellar evolution, supernovas, white dwarves, neutron stars, black holes, dark matter and energy, and the Big Bang. The course will also cover techniques used by astronomers and some of the latest conjectures including the possibility of extra dimensions or multiple universes.
This course covers the science of the stars and other heavenly bodies. We use our knowledge of physics, chemistry, and geology to understand planets, stars, galaxies,and the Universe itself. Planets and stars also serve as laboratories for conditions beyond human-built experiments and studying them increases understanding of sciences. Early studies of planetary motion lead to understanding of gravity and forces (physics and so in this course). Modern studies of planets concern geology and weather (and are not in this course). Studies of stars, the formation of galaxies and the universe depend on the properties of basic matter and forces (physics and so in this course).
The honors section will be limited to an enrollment of 25 students which will allow some material to be covered in more detail including understanding the night sky, and exercises in some basic astronomy techniques. The course will also include a field trip to the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin and a number of guest lectures by Fermilab astrophysicists. We will structure the class as two lectures per week plus one "recitation" section each week. Each student will also complete a project, with examples given in the link below.
I am recommending but not requiring The Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett, Donahue, Scheider and Voit. You can also use a different textbook in particular Discovering the Essential Universe by Comins editions 4 or 5. We will discuss in the first lecture.
Below are example tests from the normal PHYS 162 sections. The exams for the honors section will have fewer multiple choice questions and more short answer, but these exams remain a good study guide.
The NIU Observatory is managed by Matt Wiesner (e-mail email@example.com).
Algol System details
Class 14 - Test 1 -
video - Why is the sky dark at night?
Class 28 - Test 3 -