Sunday, September 02, 2007

PHY GC 471 : Astrophysics, a first course

Course Description

This is a first course in astronomy aimed at a wide section of audience. We will introduce concepts with minimal use of mathematical tools. We would like to give a broad perspective of science to students, from regular night-sky astronomy to fascinating space astronomy. We will discuss historical context of some ideas and how they have evolved today. Keeping the engineering background of student population in mind, we will also emphasize on techniques, some challenging instrumentation, and details of space exploration.

Scope and Objectives

This being a first course to a variety of students from engineering background, we prefer to teach fundamental ideas about astronomy, and defer a detailed astrophysical treatment to another higher-level course. Astronomers study properties of light emitted by various sources in the sky. We will start by studying concepts of brightness, flux measurement and spectral-line observations, followed by instruments used these measurements. We will then discuss various astronomical objects, starting from our solar system, stars, to galaxies. In each case, we discuss basic astrophysical mechanisms to understand nature of light emitted by objects under consideration. We then discuss how to estimate physical parameters of stars, galaxies and the cosmos from the properties of light detected in various wavebands.


IGNOU study material PHE-15 (Astronomy and Astrophysics), Indira Gandhi National Open University, 2006.