Astronomy 2115 General Astronomy (Call No. 72271) Syllabus: Fall 2023

Course Description and Goals: Astronomy 2115 is a general astronomy survey course at a greater level of detail than is covered in Astronomy 101. ASTR 2110 and 2115 are also the first required ASTR classes for BS Astrophysics majors. ASTR 2115 is also required for the BA in Physics and Astrophysics. During this fall semester (part 2 of the 2 part series of Astronomy 2110/2115) we will learn about stars, our own Milky Way Galaxy, other galaxies and everything else in the Universe. This course will describe the nature of the Universe starting with stars and working up through star clusters, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and superclusters. Black holes, pulsars, supernovae, dark matter, the expanding Universe and other fascinating astronomical topics will also be explored. We will use math and physics as we explore the Universe. We will practice problem solving skills and discuss the methods and observations on which our understanding is based. All students are welcome in this class regardless of citizenship, immigration status, or sexual orientation.

Pre-Requisites: ASTR2110, Math 150 or 162. Physics 151 or higher. We will learn some physics concepts and make use of high-school level algebra and trigonometry, but will not use calculus.

Instructor: Prof. Greg Taylor;; web page

The Lab (ASTR2115L): There is a night laboratory which accompanies this class, where you learn about the night sky, and get your hands on real telescopes. It meets at the Campus Observatory, and is open to everybody in this class. You certainly may take this lecture course without the lab if you wish, but if you are an Astrophysics major, the lab is required.

Course Text: Universe, Freedman, Geller and Kaufmann, 9th, 10th or 11th edition. Chapter topics are mostly the same, but for the 9th edition chapter 21 is broken into chapters 21 and 22.

Class Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 - 12:15pm Class Location: 114 Regener Hall

Office Hours: Mondays 10-11am and Thursdays 9:00-10:00am, 3236 PAIS Bldg. (west of PopeJoy), or by appointment. For quick questions catch me before or after class.

Homework: There will be regular reading assignments and homework. Reading assignments should be completed BEFORE the class time. Homework assignments will be handed out weekly.

Lectures: I will present lectures in powerpoint, with occasional demonstrations. These lectures and the syllabus can be found at the class web page that you are reading now. Some material drawn from my own research, or current events, may not be covered in the book. We will also practice problem-solving using worksheets. And I will ask questions from time to time during lecture. Your participation in responding, and in asking questions of your own, is strongly encouraged.

Grades: There will be two midterms, each worth 25%, a final project worth 20%. In addition the homework assignments will count for 25% of the grade and the worksheets will count for 5%. Please take note of the dates of the exams in the syllabus. Make-up exams will only be given if arrangements are made in advance of the exam date. On tests and homework please attempt every problem and show your work as I do give partial credit. Homeworks must be turned in at class on the day when due for full credit. Credit for late homeworks will drop by 15% for every day late within a week, and no credit thereafter. Note: If you take this class "Credit/No Credit", according to university policy, your final grade must be a "C" or better in order to receive credit.

Help with Homework and Tutoring: If you have trouble with the homework feel free to ask me for help in office hours or by appointment. I much prefer meeting in person to trying to answer questions on the homework by e-mail. Free tutoring for this class is available through CAPS. Go to

VLA and LWA tour: We took a tour of the VLA and LWA on Sept 16 and took some pictures.

Schedule of Topics and Reading Assignments
Date Topic Reading Homework
22 Aug Introduction -- Quick Tour of the Universe Chap. 1
24 Aug Blackbody radiation, light and matter Chap. 5
29 Aug Spectral lines, Doppler Shift Chap. 5
31 Aug The Sun Chap. 16 HW#1 Due
5 Sep Nature of Stars Chap. 17
7 Sep Stars II/ISM Chap. 17 HW#2 Due
12 Sep Star Formation Chap. 18
14 Sep Post MS Evolution Chap. 18 HW#3 Due
19 Sep Low Mass Stars Chap. 19
21 Sep High Mass Stars Chap. 20 HW#4 Due
26 Sep Review for Test #1 Chap. 1-20
28 Sep Test #1
3 Oct Neutron Stars Chap. 21
5 Oct Relativity Chap. 21
10 Oct Black Holes Chap. 21 HW#5 Due
12-13 Oct Fall Break, no class
17 Oct Gamma Ray Bursts Chap. 21
19 Oct Milky Way Chap. 22
24 Oct Galaxies I Chap. 23 HW#6 Due
26 Oct Galaxies II Chap. 24
31 Oct Active Galaxies Chap. 24 HW#7 Due
2 Nov Quasars Chap. 24
7 Nov Clusters and Large Scale Structure Chap. 24 HW#8 Due
9 Nov Cosmology I Chap. 25
14 Nov Cosmology II Chap. 25HW#9 Due
16 Nov Early Universe Chap. 26
21 Nov End of the Universe Chap. 26 HW#10 Due
26 Nov Thanksgiving, no class
28 Nov Review for Test 2 Chap. 21-26
30 Nov Test #2 Chap. 21-26
5 Dec Project Presentations Chap. 26
7 Dec Project Presentations

This page was last modified on July 7, 2023

Return to Greg Taylor's Home Page