PX1446 Introduction to Astronomy
Introductory description
The Universe contains a bewildering variety of objects  blackholes, red giants, white dwarfs, brown dwarfs, gammaray bursts and globular clusters  to name a few. The module introduces these, and shows how, with the application of physics, we have come to know their distances, sizes, masses and natures. The module starts with the Sun and planets and moves on to the Universe as a whole.
Module aims
To introduce the constituent objects of the Universe and the physics which allows us to estimate their distances, sizes, masses and natures. The module will show how our knowledge of the Universe beyond Earth relies upon the application and extrapolation of physics developed in the laboratory.
Outline syllabus
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
Description of the main constituents of the Universe with typical sizes, masses and distances covering: the Solar System. Stars and star clusters Angles, distances & sizes: angular size and the smallangle approximation; trigonometric parallax; simple telescopes; distance methods based upon the inverse square law of brightness.
Masses: the Doppler effect and the measurement of speed from spectra; the use of speeds and sizes to derive masses in the Solar System, binary stars, star clusters and galaxies.
Physical properties of stars: stellar temperatures; spectra and elemental compositions. Physical conditions within stars.
Galaxies: normal & active; the Milky Way; galaxy interactions; galaxy clusters.
The Universe: Hubble's discovery of the expansion of the Universe; implication of a finite age; the Cosmic Microwave Background; the composition of the Universe.
Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
 List and describe the main constituents of the Universe
 Describe methods for measuring the distances of stars and galaxies and work through example computations
 Estimate the masses of stars and galaxies given information on size or angle, distance and speed
 Explain how the surface temperature of stars is measured and how the physical conditions of their interiors are inferred
Indicative reading list
Marc Kutner, Astronomy: a Physical perspective, CUP.
View reading list on Talis Aspire
Subject specific skills
Knowledge of mathematics and physics. Skills in modelling, reasoning, thinking.
Transferable skills
Analytical, communication, problemsolving, selfstudy
Study time
Type  Required 

Lectures  15 sessions of 1 hour (25%) 
Private study  45 hours (75%) 
Total  60 hours 
Private study description
Working through lecture notes, solving problems, wider reading, discussing with others taking the module, revising for exam, practising on past exam papers
Costs
No further costs have been identified for this module.
You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.
Assessment group B1
Weighting  Study time  

2 hour online examination (Summer)  100%  
Answer 2 questions

Feedback on assessment
Personal tutor, group feedback
Courses
This module is Core for:
 Year 1 of UPXAF3F5 Undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics (BSc)
 Year 1 of UPXAF3FA Undergraduate Physics with Astrophysics (MPhys)
This module is Optional for:
 Year 1 of USTAG300 Undergraduate Master of Mathematics,Operational Research,Statistics and Economics
 Year 1 of UPXAFG33 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc MMathPhys)
 Year 1 of UPXAGF13 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc)
 Year 1 of UPXAFG31 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)
 Year 1 of USTAG1G3 Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (BSc MMathStat)
 Year 1 of USTAGG14 Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (BSc)
 Year 1 of USTAY602 Undergraduate Mathematics,Operational Research,Statistics and Economics
 Year 1 of UPXAF304 Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys)
 Year 1 of UPXAF300 Undergraduate Physics (BSc)
 Year 1 of UPXAF303 Undergraduate Physics (MPhys)
 Year 1 of UPXAF3N1 Undergraduate Physics and Business Studies
 Year 1 of UPXAF3N2 Undergraduate Physics with Business Studies
This module is Option list B for:
 Year 1 of UMAAG100 Undergraduate Mathematics (BSc)
 Year 1 of UMAAG103 Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath)
 Year 1 of UMAAG106 Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath) with Study in Europe
 Year 1 of UMAAG1NC Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies
 Year 1 of UMAAG1N2 Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies (with Intercalated Year)
 Year 1 of UMAAGL11 Undergraduate Mathematics and Economics
 Year 1 of UECAGL12 Undergraduate Mathematics and Economics (with Intercalated Year)
 Year 1 of UMAAGV18 Undergraduate Mathematics and Philosophy with Intercalated Year
 Year 1 of UMAAG101 Undergraduate Mathematics with Intercalated Year