Introduction to Astronomy

Course Code: B72001H

Course Name: Introduction to Astronomy

Credits: 3.0

Level: Undergraduate  

Pre-requisite: Advanced Mathematics, Mechanics, Thermal, Optics, Electrics, Atomic physics

Lecture Time: 30 sessions, 2 hours/session

Course Description
This course introduces the observational features of celestial bodies at different levels in astronomy, and emphasizes the physical interpretation of astronomical phenomena, concepts of astrophysics and our understanding of the universe.

Topics and Schedule

1.  The Celestial Coordinate System, Marking the Vast Sky (Chapter 2, 3 Su)

  a)  Celestial and terrestrial coordinates, Diurnal Apparent Motion, annual apparent motion, variation of the Earth's rotation

  b)   Starry sky of the moon and planets

  c)   Time and astronomy, sidereal time and solar time, astronomical time to atomic time

  d)   Time zone and world time, ephemeris time, calendar

2.   The Growth of Astronomy, from Geometry to Physics

  a) Ruins of ancient astronomy, planetary motion, Ptolemy's geocentric theory, the Copernican revolution

  b)  Galileo's astronomical observations, falsification geocentric theory, the movement of the Earth around the Sun

  c)   Tycho's planetary observations and Kepler's three law, determination of solar system scale

  d)   Newton's theory of universal gravitation, continuous verification and final establishment

3.   Information from the Universe (chapter 3, 4)

  a)  Electromagnetic wave and observation window, temperature and black body spectrum, velocity and Doppler effect

  b)  Atomic, molecular and radiation, spectral line formation, spectral line analysis

  c)  Other information: meteorites, cosmic rays, neutrinos, gravitational waves

4.   Modern Means of Observation (chapter 5+)

  a)  Development of optical telescope, image and detector, light collection capability, high resolution

  b)   Radio telescope, interference technology

  c)   Space astronomy, full spectrum coverage

5. Solar system, formation model and comparative planetary science  

                                                                   (chapter 6)

  a)  Solar system scale, composition, terrestrial planet and Jovian planet

  b)   Interplanetary matter, solar wind particles, boundary

  c)   Solar system formation theory, Jovian planet, planet debris

6. The Earth and the Moon (chapter 7,8)

  a)  The Earth's interior, magnetic layer, geological activity, atmosphere

  b)  Greenhouse effect and global warming, geological record

  c)  (practice class of lunar spectra)

  d)  The formation of the Earth Moon system: observation, theory and test

7. Terrestrial Planet: Mercury, Venus and Mars (chapter 8, 9, 10)

  a)  Nature of Mercury, the exploration of mercury;

  b)  Venus atmosphere, irreversible greenhouse effect;

  c)  Four seasons, storms, water and microbes of Mars?

  d)  What determines the evolution history of terrestrial planets?

8. Jovian Planet: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune (chapter 11, 12, 13)
a)  Jupiter's structure, magnetic field, atmosphere and clouds, dust aura, and ice geology of the satellite

  b)  Saturn structure, atmosphere, ice particle rings, satellite atmosphere

  c)  Uranus, Neptune's atmosphere, inner structure and magnetic layer, halo, satellite system

9.  The Debris of the Solar System, the Key to Our Origins (chapter 14)

  a) Asteroid belt, near Earth Asteroid

  b)  Comet observation, structure, water

  c)  The Cooper belt and Oort Nebula

  d)  Meteors, meteorites, from Mars

  e)  Solar system review

10.  Detection of the Outer Planets (chapter 15+chapter 8.7 Li)

  a)   The difficulty of different methods, the choice effect
b)   Great success of the Kepler satellite

  c)   Statistics of the outer planets

11.  The Nature of Outer Planets, Extraterrestrial Life

  a)  The characteristics of life, origin, extraterrestrial life, establishing contact?

  b)  Scientific method, search for the terrestrial habitable planets (water, ultraviolet radiation)

  c)  Research methods and development of the outer planetary atmosphere research

12.  Sun-Mother, Energy Provider (chapter 16)

  a)  Solar energy, internal structure, troposphere and granulation

  b)  Historical observation, activity, magnetic field, magnetic current generator

  c)   Solar-quake, probe internal structure through neutrino

13.  Various Kinds of Stars (chapter 17)

  a)   Nearby stars, brightness and apparent brightness

  b)  Star classification and the basic measurement of temperature, size, mass and so on

  c)   Stars, dwarf stars, Chrotu

14. Interstellar Medium (chapter 18+ chapter 7 Li)

  a)   Understanding Star: from vacuum to a gas and dust

  b)   The principle of emission nebulae and dark dust clouds

  c)  Different components and detection: neutral hydrogen, 21 cm line, molecular

  d)   Coexistence, heating and cooling

15. Star Formation (chapter 19+)

  a)   Star formation region, molecular cloud of different shapes, detection

  b)   Nebula collapse and Jeans criterion, rotation and magnetic field effect

  c)  The evolution of original star, early stars, disk, outflow, observational evidence

16.  Stellar Structure, Gravitation and Radiation

  a)   How to get a stable star

  b)   How energy is transferred outward

  c)   Stellar atmosphere, test element synthesis
17.  Stellar evolution (chapter 20+)

  a)   The evolution path of the sun, low mass and high mass stars

  b)   Stellar evolution in star clusters and binaries

  c)   The same age line, age observation, distance measurement

18. The End of a Star's Life (chapter 21)

  a)   The death of a small mass star: planetary nebula, white dwarf

  b)   The grand finale of massive stars: core collapse supernovae

  c)  Supernova classification, carbon burst supernova, Ia supernova ranging

  d)   Explosive element synthesis

19. Compact Object, the Peculiar State of Matter (chapter 22+)

  a)   New star, white dwarf, degenerate matter state equation and structure

  b)  Pulsar, neutron star, gravitational redshift, neutron star binary, gravitational wave radiation

  c)   X-ray binaries, black holes, mass distribution

  d)   Space travel near a black hole

20.  Galaxy (chapter 23)

  a)   Mapping, structure, spiral arms, density wave of Galaxy

  b)   Rotation curve, dark matter, dark matter at star level

  c)   Galactic center black hole

21.  Galaxy Zoo (chapter 24)

  a)  Hubble classification of Galaxy morphology, space distribution, Hubble law

  b)   Active galactic nuclei and quasar; the central engine, the unified model

  c)   Redshift survey, quasar absorption lines, large scale universe

  d)   Gravitational lens, dark matter map

22. Galaxy Cluster and Dark Matter (chapter 25)

  a)   Mass of galaxy clusters, visible mass, gas, dark matter

  b)   Galaxies collide, starburst galaxies

  c)   Formation and merger of galaxy, and generation of Hubble sequences

  d)   The evolution of galaxies and black holes

23.   Expansion and Fate of the Universe (chapter 26)

  a)   Cosmological principle, evidence of expansion of the universe: Hubble regression, microwave background radiation;

  b)   General relativity, space geometry, and the end of the universe;

  c)   Cosmic density, accelerated expansion, dark energy;

  d)   Composition and age of the universe;

24.   Early universe, Back to the Origin of Time (chapter 26.7, 27)

  a)  The first three minutes: basic force, basic particles, atomic nuclei, atoms, freezing

  b)  Inflationary universe, possible test

  c)  The structure formation, the microwave background test, baryon acoustic oscillation

25.  Summary and Outlook, Our Journey is the Sea and Stars

  a)   Cosmic level, two dark, one black, three origin

  b)  International major astronomical equipment in construction, planning and outlook

  c)  The present situation and Prospect of Chinese astronomy


Astronomy Todayby Eric Chaisson & Steve McMillian


[1] Astronomy Today, Translators: Jian Gao, Xiang Zhan

[2] Astrophysics, Zong-Wei Li, Xing-Hua Xiao (chapter 7,8)

[3] New Introduction to Astronomy, Yi Su (chapter 2,3)

Requirements of exercise class

There are two exercise classes and every student is needed to give a presentation of the course thesis.