Astronomy 7A

Introduction to Astrophysics

Fall 2007

Instructor:  Prof. Eliot Quataert
Office:   645 Campbell Hall
Phone: 642-3792 (email is preferable unless it's urgent)
E-mail: eliot{at}

Class time:  2:00-3:30, Tue and Thu, 110 Barrows

Graduate Student Instructors:

Discussion Sections: W2, W3, Tue12 in 264 Evans


Office Hours:

TALC = The Astronomy Learning Center:  this is a large, collaborative "office hour" where
students work on their homework assignments in an informal, group setting.  TALC is staffed
by GSIs who serve as guides, rather than tutors, in helping student groups with their homework
problems. In addition to supervised group work, students may discuss difficulties in their
conceptual understanding of lecture and reading topics with the GSIs and their peers.

TALC is held Tue 5-7 PM in 264 Evans & W 7-9 PM in 544 Campbell starting Tue. 9/4.

Based on previous experience, students who attend TALC regularly do better in the course.
However, it is crucial that you actively participate in TALC, and not just copy or passively
absorb the answers to HW questions from others.  Towards this end, you need to try to start
the HW problems before you come to TALC.

Class Web Page:

I will use the class web site extensively to post homework, solutions, and other course
information.  So please check regularly.

Text:  MODERN ASTROPHYSICS by Carroll & Ostlie (2nd edition!)

Optional Text: The Physical Universe by Frank Shu -- This is a somewhat less mathematical, though often
                          conceptually more difficult, text.  It is on reserve in the physics library.

Class Overview:  This course provides an introduction to astrophysics, emphasizing the
                            application of simple physics to the understanding of astronomical objects.
                            The course focuses on stars, their formation, structure, and evolution, and their
                            "death" as compact objects -- white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes.
                            Lecture topics will follow the text by Carroll & Ostlie (see below), though I often
                            present the material in a somewhat different way than the text.

Prerequisites:  Physics 7A & 7B (concurrent).  This course uses math extensively -- scientific
notation (10nx10m=10m+n), algebra, and some calculus.  If you think you would prefer a less
mathematical introduction to Astronomy, you may want to consider taking Astro 10.

Field Trip:   There will be a field trip to Lick Observatory on nearby Mt. Hamilton.  This facility
contains a number of telescopes used by UC astronomers in their research, including a 3m diameter
telescope and a fully robotic telescope (no observer required).  Date to be announced (a Sat or Sun).


The Astronomy Department's Policy on Academic Misconduct is here.

Homework is due at 12 noon Friday starting 9/7.  It should be placed in the special boxes just
outside of 11 Campbell Hall.  11 Campbell Hall is in the basement.  To reach it, take the stairs
to the right of the elevators (the elevators can be slow and congested).  The appropriate box will
be marked Astro 7A.  Do not place your homework in any of the other boxes which are for Astro 10.
Write your name and section (date & time) on each homework and please staple your sheets together.
The homework questions can be discussed with your classmates but must be written up individually.
Late homework will not be accepted (the homework will be picked up by the grader soon after 12PM
on Fridays).  Your lowest homework grade will, however, be dropped in determining your final grade.

If you miss an exam you will receive zero credit for that portion of the course grade.  No make-up
exams will be given.  In exceptional cases (e.g., you miss the exam because of a well-documented
medical problem), I will not count a midterm when calculating the final grade.  If you miss the
final exam for a very good well-documented reason, your grade will be an incomplete.

Exam Dates (midterms are held in class):

Please let me know immediately if you cannot attend one of the exams.

Course Topics:

Note:  Not all of the material in each of the assigned chapters can or will be covered in lecture.
You are, however, responsible for the material.  It may be useful for the homework problems.