Astronomy

Course Listing

Astronomy

The Department of Astronomy offers courses on cosmology, the universe, astrophysics, and astronomy.

For questions about specific courses, contact the department:

Departmental Office: 1328 Pupin
212-854-3278
Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Web: www.astro.columbia.edu/


Directory of Classes

The course information displayed on this page relies on an external system and may be incomplete. Please visit Astronomy on the Directory of Classes for complete course information.

After finding your course in the Directory of Classes, click on the section number to open an expanded view. The "Open To" field will indicate whether the course is open to School of Professional Studies students. If School of Professional Studies is not included in the field, students may still be able to cross-register for the course by obtaining permission after being admitted to an academic program.


ASTR BC1753 Life in the Universe. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Prerequisites: recommended preparation: a working knowledge of high school algebra.

Introduction to astronomy intended primarily for nonscience majors. Includes the history of astronomy; the apparent motions of the moon, sun, stars, and planets; gravitation and planetary orbits; the physics of the earth and its atmosphere; and the exploration of the solar system. This course is similar to ASTR W1403. You cannot enroll in both courses and receive credit for both.

Fall 2018: ASTR BC1753
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ASTR 1753 001/03007 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
202 Altschul Hall
Noe Kains 3 70/150

ASTR BC1754 Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: A working knowledge of high school algebra.
Corequisites: Suggested parallel laboratory course: ASTR C 1904y.

Examines the properties of stars, star formation, stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and the cosmological origin and evolution of the universe. Students may not receive credit for both ASTR BC 1754 and ASTR C1404.

Spring 2018: ASTR BC1754
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ASTR 1754 001/05649 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
202 Altschul Hall
Mary Putman 3 60/120

ASTR C1234 Astronomy-Physics-Geology, The Universal Timekeeper: An Introduction to Scientific Habits of Mind. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: Prerequisite for ASTR C1235y is ASTR C1234x. Working knowledge of high school algebra.

Introduction to ideas and models of thought in the physical sciences, adopting as its theme the use of the atom as an imperturbable clock. Lectures develop basic physical ideas behind the structure of the atom and its nucleus and then explore such diverse applications as measuring the age of the Shroud of Turin, determining the diets of ancient civilizations, unraveling the evolution of the universe, and charting the history of earth´s climate.

ASTR C1403 Earth, Moon, and Planets (lecture). 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Prerequisites: Open to any student offering astronomy in partial fulfillment of the science requirement - some sections satisfy QUA requirement. Recommended preparation: A working knowledge of high school algebra.

The overall architecture of the solar system. Motions of the celestial sphere. Time and the calendar. Life in the solar system and beyond. Students may not receive credit for both ASTR BC1753 and ASTR C1403.

ASTR C1404 Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Prerequisites: Open to any student offering astronomy in partial fulfillment of the science requirement. Recommended preparation: A working knowledge of high school algebra. Professor Applegate's sections do not qualify for QUA.

Distances to, and fundamental properties of, nearby stars; nucleosynthesis and stellar evolution; novas and supernovas; galaxies; the structure of the universe and theories concerning its origin, evolution, and ultimate fate. Professor Applegate's sections do not qualify for QUA. Students may not receive credit for both ASTR BC1754 and ASTR C1404.

ASTR C1420 Galaxies and Cosmology. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Prerequisites: Working knowledge of high school algebra.

The content, structure, and possible evolution of galaxies. The '21-centimeter line': the song of interstellar hydrogen. Distribution mass, seen and unseen, in galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Distribution of clusters over the sky. Quasars and the nuclei of galaxies. The origin of the universe, and the present controversy over its eventual fate.

ASTR C1836 Stars and Atoms. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: A working knowledge of high school algebra.

Study of the life cycles of stars, from their birth in cold gas clouds to their final throes in supernova explosions. The turn-of-the-century revolution in physics: x-rays, radioactivity, the nuclear atom, and the quantum theory. Energy production by nuclear fission and fusion, and its consequences.

ASTR C1903 Earth, Moon, and Planets Laboratory. 1 point.

Corequisites: ASTR BC1753 or ASTR C1403.

This laboratory is for the lecture courses ASTR BC1753x or ASTR C1403x. The lecture course must be taken concurrently.

ASTR C1904 Astronomy Lab 2. 1 point.

Laboratory for ASTR C1404. Projects include use of telescopes, laboratory experiments in the nature of light, spectroscopy, and the analysis of astronomical data.

ASTR C2001 Introduction to Astrophysics I. 3 points.

Prerequisites: A working knowledge of calculus.
Corequisites: A course in calculus-based general physics.

The first term of a two-term, calculus-based introduction to astronomy and astrophysics. Topics include the physics of stellar interiors, stellar atmospheres and spectral classifications, stellar energy generation and nucleosynthesis, supernovae, neutron stars, white dwarfs, interacting binary stars.

ASTR C2002 Introduction to Astrophysics II. 3 points.

Prerequisites: A working knowledge of calculus.
Corequisites: A course in calculus-based general physics.

Continuation of ASTR C2001. These two courses constitute a full year of calculus-based introduction to astrophysics. Topics include the structure of our galaxy, the interstellar medium, star clusters, properties of external galaxies, clusters of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, cosmology.

ASTR C2900 Frontiers of Astrophysics Research. 3 points.

Grading is Pass/Fail.

Several members of the faculty will each offer a brief series of talks providing context for a current research topic in the field and will then present recent results of their ongoing research. Opportunities for future student research collaboration will be offered.

ASTR C3103 The Galaxy and the Interstellar Medium. 3 points.

ASTR C3273 High Energy Astrophysics. 3 points.

Prerequisites: One year of calculus-based general physics. Physics majors could take this course with no previous astronomy background.

ASTR C3601 General Relativity, Black Holes, and Cosmology. 3 points.

Prerequisites: One year of calculus-based general physics.

Introduction to general relativity, Einstein’s geometrical theory of gravity. Topics include special relativity, tensor calculus, the Einstein field equations, the Friedmann equations and cosmology, black holes, gravitational lenses and mirages, gravitational radiation, and black hole evaporation.

ASTR C3602 Physical Cosmology and Extragalactic Astronomy. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: One year of calculus-based general physics.

The standard hot big bang cosmological model and other modern observational results that test it. Topics include the Friedmann equations, the standard model of particle Physics, the age of the universe, primordial nucleosynthesis, the cosmic microwave background, the extragalactic distance scale, and modern observations.

ASTR C3646 Observational Astronomy. 3 points.

Introduction to the basic techniques used in obtaining and analyzing astronomical data. Focus on 'ground-based' methods at optical, infrared, and radio wavelengths. Regular use of the telescope facilities atop the roof of the Pupin Labs and at Harriman Observatory. The radio-astronomy portion consists mostly of computer labs, In research projects, students also work on the analysis of data obtained at National Observatories.

ASTR C3985 Statistics and the Universe (Seminar). 3 points.

Prerequisites: First year calculus required, introductory physics or astronomy
Essential statistical methods will be applied in a series of case studies and reseach projects taken from the latest advances in cosmology, astronomy and physics.  Statistics of measurement and detection, fundamentals of hypothesis testing, classifications, data modeling, time-series analysis, correlation and clustering will be explored through hands-on investigation using data from recent experiments and surveys

ASTR C3997 Independent Research. 3 points.

Variety of research projects conducted under the supervision of members of the faculty. Observational, theoretical, and experimental work in galactic and extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. The topic and scope of the work must be arranged with a faculty member in advance: a written paper describing the results of the project will be required at its completion. (A two semester project can be designed so that the grade YC is given after the first term.) Senior majors in Astronomy or Astrophysics wishing to do a Senior Thesis should make arrangements in May of their junior year and sign up for a total of 6 points over their final two semesters. Both a substantial written document and an oral presentation of thesis results will be required.

ASTR C3998 Independent Research. 3 points.

Variety of research projects conducted under the supervision of members of the faculty. Observational, theoretical, and experimental work in galactic and extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. The topic and scope of the work must be arranged with a faculty member in advance: a written paper describing the results of the project will be required at its completion. (A two semester project can be designed so that the grade YC is given after the first term.) Senior majors in Astronomy or Astrophysics wishing to do a Senior Thesis should make arrangements in May of their junior year and sign up for a total of 6 points over their final two semesters. Both a substantial written document and an oral presentation of thesis results will be required.

ASTR G6001 Radiative Processes. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: 3000-level electromagnetic theory and quantum mechanics.

Radiation mechanisms and interaction of radiation with matter. Applications of classical and semiclassical radiation theory and atomic physics to astrophysical settings. Radiative transfer, polarization, scattering, line radiation, special relativity, bremsstrahlung, synchrotron radiation, inverse compton scattering, ionization losses, shocks and particle acceleration, plasma processes, atomic structure and spectroscopic terms, radiative transitions and oscillator strengths, curve of growth, molecular spectra.

ASTR G6004 Stellar Structure and Evolution. 3 points.

Topics include the physics of stellar structure, stellar atmospheres, radiation transport, nucleosynthesis, stellar evolution, star formation, pulsation, interacting binary stars, white dwarfs, and neutron stars.

ASTR G8001 Observational Astronomy. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: one year of general astronomy.

Detailed introduction to the instrumentation used in astronomy and the methods used to obtain and analyze data. Six main topics are included: the effects of the earth's atmosphere on radiation; astronomical optics and telescopes; detectors; observational methods; data reduction; and statistical methods. All the main observational methods (imaging, photometry, polarimetry, and spectroscopy) are treated.

ASTR G8003 Astrophysical fluid Dynamics (Lecture). 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

An introduction to the fundamental concepts of fluid dynamics with focus on standad applications of the theory to a variety of important astrophysical situations and objects. A brief introduction to several key numberical concepts. A brief description of the complications that arise when a fluid is magnetized.

ASTR UN1403 Earth, Moon and Planets (Lecture). 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Prerequisites: recommended preparation: a working knowledge of high school algebra.

The overall architecture of the solar system. Motions of the celestial sphere. Time and the calendar. Major planets, the earth-moon system, minor planets, comets. Life in the solar system and beyond. This course is similar to ASTR BC 1753. You cannot enroll in both courses and receive credit for both.

Fall 2018: ASTR UN1403
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ASTR 1403 001/15146 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
602 Hamilton Hall
James Applegate 3 72/86

ASTR UN2001 Introduction To Astrophysics, I. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Prerequisites: a working knowledge of calculus.
Corequisites: a course in calculus-based general physics.

First term of a two-term calculus-based introduction to astronomy and astrophysics. Topics include the physics of stellar interiors, stellar atmospheres and spectral classifications, stellar energy generation and nucleosynthesis, supernovae, neutron stars, white dwarfs, and interacting binary stars.

Fall 2018: ASTR UN2001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ASTR 2001 001/18153 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
304 Hamilton Hall
Frederik Paerels 3 25/30

ASTR UN2900 Frontiers of Astrophysics. 1 point.

Several members of the faculty each offer a brief series of talks providing context for a current research topic in the field and then present results of their ongoing research. Opportunities for future student research collaboration are offered. Grading is Pass/Fail.

Fall 2018: ASTR UN2900
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ASTR 2900 001/76433 F 10:10am - 12:00pm
214 Pupin Laboratories
Caleb Scharf 1 43/56

ASTR W1420 Galaxies and Cosmology. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Galaxies contain stars, gas dust and (usually) super-massive black holes. They are found throughout the Universe, traveling through space and occasionally crashing into each other. This course will look at how these magnificent systems form and evolved,  and what can they tells us about the formation and evolution of the Universe itself. You cannot enroll in ASTR W1420 in addition to ASTR BC1754 or ASTR W1404 and receive credit for both.

ASTR W3102 Planetary Dynamics and Physics of the Solar System. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: one year of calculus-based Physics.

The physics and astrophysics of planets, comets, asteroids, natural and artificial satellites, and pretty much anything in the Solar System - including the Sun. Detailed study of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans:  circulations, climate, and weather. Orbital dynamics. The emerging science of extrasolar planets.  The origin, evolution, and eventual fate of planets.

ASTR W3103 The Galaxy and the Interstellar Medium. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Prerequisites: one year of calculus-based general physics.

The structure of galaxies and the physical processes that underlie it. Topics include: current galactic structure, the interstellar medium, dark matter, gas dynamics, shocks, gravitational collapse, star formation, supernovae remnants, stellar dynamics, spiral arms, galaxy formation.

ASTR W3106 The Science of Space Exploration. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: one semester course in introductory astronomy or astrophysics (e.g., ASTR W1403, ASTR W1404, ASTR W1420, ASTR W1836, ASTR W2001, ASTR W2002, ASTR BC1753, and ASTR BC1754). Ability in mathematics up to and including calculus is strongly urged.

How and why do humans explore space? Why does it require such extraordinary effort? What have we found by exploring our Solar System? We investigate the physics and biological basis of space exploration, and the technologies and science issues that determine what we can accomplish. What has been accomplished in the past, what is being explored now, and what can we expect in the future? How do space scientists explore the Solar System and answer science questions in practice? What do we know about solar systems beyond our own?

ASTR W3601 General Relativity, Black Holes, and Cosmology. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement
Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: one year of calculus-based general physics.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity replaced Newtonian gravity with an elegant theory of curved spacetime. Einstein's theory led to unforseen and unnerving predictions of singularities and cosmological instabilities. Nearly a century later, these mathematical oddities have been confirmed astrophysically in the existence of black holes, an expanding universe, and a big bang. The course will cover Einstein's General Theory, beginning with special relativity, with an emphasis on black holes and the big bang.

ASTR W3986 Astrostatistics. 3 points.

Astronomers live in era of “big data”. Whilst astronomers of a century ago collected a handful of photographic plates each night, modern astronomers collect thousands of images encoded by millions of pixels in the same time. Both the volume of data and the ever present desire to dig deeper into data sets has led to a growing interest in the use of statistical methods to interpret observations. This class will provide an introduction to the methods commonly used in understanding astronomical data sets, both in terms of theory and application. It is one six classes the department offers every fourth semester.

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