Course Descriptions

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Astronomy Discipline Courses Details

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ASTR 115 : Introduction to Astronomy

Prerequisites: None
Description: Designed for non-science majors (majors should take ASTR 320). Stonehenge; solar system; sun, stars and stellar evolution, pulsars; black holes; nebulae; galaxies, quasars, big bang, and expanding universe; search for extraterrestrial life. Opportunity for telescopic observation.
General Education:
  • Segment II Area - Physical and Biological Sciences Area (PBS) Category A Physical Sciences
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 116 : Astronomy Laboratory

Prerequisites: Concurrent registration in or completion of ASTR 115.
Description: Fundamentals of astronomical observation, including optics and spectroscopy. Planetarium exploration of stars, Sun and moon. Opportunity for telescopic observation.
General Education:
  • Segment II Area - Physical and Biological Sciences Area (PBS) Category A Physical Sciences
  • Laboratory or fieldwork (L/F)
Units: 1
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 120 : Introduction to Astrobiology: Life in the Universe

Prerequisites: Completion of ELM requirement
Description: A scientifically quantitative and rigorous examination of topics and processes in astronomy, geology, and biology that bear on the possible formation and evolution of life on other planets. Motivated by the discovery of exoplanets and life in extreme environments
Units: 3

ASTR 300 : Stars, Planets, and the Milky Way

Prerequisites: PHYS 220 or PHYS 111 with grade of C- or better.
Description: Quantitative study of stars, stellar evolution, and the Milky Way; emphasis on the observational basis of our knowledge of the Galaxy's structure and contents. Application of Newton's laws to exoplanets, determination of stellar masses, and evidence for dark matter. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 301 : Observational Astronomy Laboratory

Prerequisites: ASTR 115 or ASTR 300 with grade of C or better; MATH 199 [formerly MATH 109] or equivalent.
Description: Principles and practice of astronomical observation including telescope design and operation, and coordinate and magnitude systems. Observations of the night sky, planets, stars, and nebulae using determination of stellar masses, and evidence for dark matter. Classwork, 1 unit; laboratory, 1 unit.
Units: 2
Latest Offering: Fall 2013

ASTR 340 GW : The Big Bang - GWAR

Prerequisites: ENG 214 (or equivalent) with grade of C or better; PHYS 320 (or equivalent) with grade of C- or better.
Description: Introduction to cosmology, from earlier human conceptions of the universe, through the hot big bang and inflation; early universe, nucleosynthesis, dark matter, dark energy, photon and neutrino backgrounds, and observational tests of cosmology. This course is offered as ASTR 340 GW and PHYS 340 GW. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 400 : Stellar Astrophysics

Prerequisites: CSC 309, MATH 245 or 376, and PHYS 320, all with grades of C- or better.
Description: Introduction to stellar astrophysics: the birth, life and death of stars; stellar atmospheres and spectra; stellar interiors; energy generation and transport; star formation; stellar evolution and death; the Solar Cycle and the Sun-Earth connection. Paired with ASTR 700. Students who have completed ASTR 700 may not take ASTR 400 for credit.
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2013

ASTR 470 : Observational Techniques in Astronomy

Prerequisites: ASTR 300; ASTR 301 recommended; CSC 309 strongly recommended; all with grades of C- or better.
Description: Astronomical instrumentation and data analysis; statistical analysis, CCD photometry, spectroscopy, image processing, instrument design. Paired with ASTR 770. Students who have completed ASTR 770 may not take ASTR 470 for credit. Classwork, 2 unit; laboratory, 1 unit.
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 498 : Astronomy Research Literature

Prerequisites: ASTR 320, PHYS 320 or consent of instructor, with grades of C- or better.
Description: Critical reading and analysis of current literature in astronomy and astrophysics. Culminating experience for undergraduates. Paired with ASTR 798. Students who have completed ASTR 798 may not take ASTR 498 for credit.
Units: 2
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 685 : Projects in the Teaching of Astronomy

Prerequisites: Grade of B or better in the ASTR 321 or ASTR 470 and consent of instructor.
Description: Methods for effective student teaching in the SFSU Observatory and/or Planetarium. Leading of Observatory Open Nights; development and/or presentation of Planetarium shows. May be repeated for a total of 3 units. (Students may earn a maximum of 4 units toward the baccalaureate degree for any course(s) numbered 685 regardless of discipline.)
Units: 1
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 697 : Senior Project

Prerequisites: ASTR 470 with grade of C- or better; senior standing.
Description: Culminating experience in the B.S. in Physics: Concentration in Astrophysics. Observational or theoretical projects under the direction of department faculty. Student must submit a written report of work accomplished. May be repeated for a total of three units.
Units: 1-3

ASTR 699 : Independent Study

Prerequisites: Approval of department and consent of instructor.
Description: For advanced students majoring or minoring in astronomy or astrophysics. Special study in the laboratory, field, or library under the direction of a member of the astronomy faculty. The student must present a written report of the work accomplished to the faculty and to the department. May be repeated for a maximum of 12 units.
Units: 1-3

ASTR 700 : Stellar Astrophysics

Prerequisites: CSC 309, MATH 245 or 376, PHYS 320, all with grades of C- or better.
Description: Paired with ASTR 400. For course description, see ASTR 400. Students who have completed ASTR 400 may not take ASTR 700 for credit.
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2013

ASTR 722 : Radiative Processes and Gas Dynamics in Astrophysics

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; ASTR 400; PHYS 370, PHYS 430, PHYS 460, or equivalents. PHYS 785 recommended.
Description: Radiative transfer; bremsstrahlung, Compton scattering, and synchrotron radiation; fluid dynamics and astrophysical shocks. Applications may include accretion, star formation, galaxy formation, star and galaxy clusters, active galactic nuclei, jets, and cosmic ray acceleration.
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 742 : Galaxies and Cosmology

Prerequisites: ASTR 300 or equivalent, PHYS 370, PHYS 430, or equivalents, ASTR 400 or equivalent recommended.
Description: Formation and evolution of galaxies and large-scale structure. Models of hierarchical structure formation in a universe dominated by dark matter. Observational constraints from the discovery of the expansion of the universe to ongoing experiments probing the nature of dark energy.
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Fall 2013

ASTR 770 : Observational Techniques in Astronomy

Prerequisites: ASTR 300; ASTR 301 recommended; CSC 309 strongly recommended; all with grades of C- or better.
Description: For course description, see ASTR 470. Paired with ASTR 470. Students who have completed ASTR 470 may not take ASTR 770 for credit. Classwork, 2 unit; laboratory, 1 unit. (Plus-minus letter grade only.)
Units: 3
Latest Offering: Spring 2014

ASTR 798 : Astronomy Research Literature

Prerequisites: ASTR 320, PHYS 320 or consent of instructor, with grades of C- or better.
Description: Paired with ASTR 498. For course description, see ASTR 498. Students who have completed ASTR 498 may not take ASTR 798 for credit.
Units: 2
Latest Offering: Spring 2014
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