Spring 2004

Prof. Michael S. Vogeley

Department of Physics

Office: 811 Disque Hall

Phone: 215-895-2710

Email: vogeley@drexel.edu

Office hours: Tuesday 2:00-3:30 p.m. or by appointment

Heather Rave

Department of Physics

Office: 813 Disque Hall

Phone: 215-895-2720

Email: hrave@drexel.edu

Office hours: Wednesday 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., or by appointment

Announcements

Course Meetings

Syllabus

Course Description and Philosophy

Textbook and Reading Assignments

Grading

Homework Assignments

Presentations

Exams

Class Participation

Homework Hints

Homework Solutions

Midterm Solutions

Course Schedule

FINAL EXAM: Wednesday, June 9, 3:30-5:30 p.m. The exam is closed book and covers material from the entire course, though with more emphasis on the second half. A formula sheet will be provided. Bring a calculator.

Welcome to the home page for Physics 131: Survey of the Universe! Watch this space for important announcements and useful hints. Plan to use email to ask questions about homework assignments and the course readings so that we can give you timely feedback and send any relevant homework hints to everyone else in the class.

If you will be unable to attend class, please notify us ahead of time or contact us as soon as possible. If you miss class, you are responsible for seeing one of your classmates for lecture notes.

**Office hours:** see above for office hours of the instructor and teaching assistant.

This course is designed to introduce Astronomy to non-physics majors. Emphasis will be on understanding of important concepts, backed up by simple quantitative analysis. No calculus will be used in this class. However, knowledge of basic high school level mathematics such as algebra and geometry will be assumed. A review of mathematical concepts will be distributed in class. Please review these notes immediately and see the instructor or TA if you have questions.

Topics that will be covered in this course include

- Our Place in the Universe
- History of Astronomy
- The Planets in Motion
- Radiation: It's Not Dangerous! (usually...)
- Telescopes and Time Machines
- Lifetimes of stars
- Black Holes (don't get too close!)
- The Milky Way Galaxy
- The Universe of Galaxies
- The Big Bang and the Future of the Universe

Have fun and ask lots of questions! I hope that this course stretches your imagination.

Please read the assignments *before* class and prepare to ask questions.

See the Course Schedule below for the weekly reading assignments.

Homework: 25%

Presentations: 15%

Midterm Exam: 20%

Final Exam: 30%

Class Participation: 10%

The following sections of the syllabus describe each of these components.

Solutions to the homework will be handed out in class on the due date (and posted on the web page), which is why late homework will not be accepted. Please strive to present your answers in a neat, workmanlike fashion; the clarity of your solutions will count toward your grade. You must show your work, clearly backing up your answers with calculations where necessary, to get full credit.

Brainstorming is fun! (Even Einstein received help.) * But you and
you alone are responsible for the work that you turn in.* Please
write up your own solutions to the problems. Breaches of this policy
will result in homework scores being divided by the number of
``participants.'' Second offenses may result in failure (of the class).

**Homework 1:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, April 8

**Homework 2:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, April 15

**Homework 3:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, April 22

**Homework 4:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, April 29

**Homework 5:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, May 13.

**Homework 6:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, May 20.

**Homework 7:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, May 27.

**Homework 8:**
PDF file

Due at 12:30 p.m. in class Thursday, June 3.

See the handout "Class Presentation Guidelines" for more details. For your group assignment, see the handout "Class Presentation Groups". I will distribute a class list with faces and email addresses to facilitate identifying group members.

The Final will be during exam week and will include material from the entire course, but with some emphasis on the second half of the course.

Both exams will be closed book. Bring a calculator.
However, *you may not preprogram your calculator with memorized formulae.* Ask me if you are uncertain about this policy.

**Homework 1: **

Problem 6: You are asked to
compute the parallax of a star that is 5 lightyears away. The "parallax"
is the angular distance that the star appears to move in the sky when
seen from two different positions of the Earth. Try drawing a little
diagram. Imagine that first you observe the star in, for example, June
when the Earth is on one side of the Sun. Six months later, in December,
you observe the same star again, but now you're on the other side of the
Sun. Draw a line between those two positions of the Earth - they're 2
A.U. apart (where one Astronomical Unit is 1.5 X 108 km). Suppose that
the star lies 5 light years away from the Sun along a line that is
perpendicular to the first line. Now, connect the star's position to
both Earth positions. You've just drawn a triangle, where the base of
the triangle has the two Earth positions at the corners, and the star is
at the third corner. The parallax is half the interior angle in the star's
corner.

In class, we discussed how, at large distance, the angular size is angle = (physical size)/(distance) X (360)/(2 pi) degrees Try thinking of our triangle above from the standpoint of the distance star, and use this formula to compute the parallax. Think carefully. What are the relevant physical size and distance in this case?

**Homework 2:**

Problem 2: Try to solve this using ratios of the masses
and radii and use the table on p. 146 of the textbook, which lists the
radii and masses of the planets and Moon in terms of Earth's radius
and mass.

Problem 3a: There is some overlap in dates when they lived, so you could use their birth years to sort them.

<-- Midterm solutions (PDF file) -->

Week |
Class Dates |
Reading |
Homework |
Exams |

1 | March 30, April 1 | 1.1-1.5 | ||

2 | April 6, 8 | 2.1-2.7 | HW1 due | |

3 | April 13, 15 | 3.1, 3.3, 3.4 3.5, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.6 | HW2 due | |

4 | April 20, 22 | 6.1-5, 9.1-2, 9.5, 10.1-2, 10.4-5 | HW3 due | |

5 | April 27, 29 | 16.1, 16.5, 17.1, 17.3-5, 17.7-8 | HW4 due | |

6 | May 4, 6 | 20.1-4 | Midterm (May 4) | |

7 | May 11, 13 | 21.2-5, 22.1, 22.5-8 | HW5 due | |

8 | May 18, 20 | 21.1-3, 23.6-7, 24.1-3, 24.5 | HW6 due | |

9 | May 25, 27 | 26.1-6 | HW7 due | |

10 | June 1, 3 | 27.2, 4, 5 | HW8 due | |

11 | June 7-12 | Final Exam Week |

Last update: May 26, 2004