Course Number 792050: Astronomy

Instructor: Jim Napolitano

Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Course 79205, "Astronomy", is a four-credit introductory course in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Question: What's the difference between Astronomy and Astrology? Answer...
The Fall 1996 course syllabus is available in postscript. There are two one-hour lecture hours each week, and one two-hour "studio" session on Fridays. We follow the text Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics by Zeilik, Gregory, and Smith. Studio exercises are taken from several sources, in particular Activities in Astronomy by Hoff, Kelsey, and Neff.
Email can be sent to all members of the class with the address astronomy@rpi.edu.
Lecture transparencies are posted here (as Postscript or Framemaker 5 documents) as well as some information for the studio exercises. I also list a selection of other textbooks, and provide branch points for other educational web resources for Astronomy and Astrophysics. I will borrow from some of these for this course, always trying to reference them correctly. Please let me know of any omissions.

You can jump to specific pieces of course material from the following table:

Week Date Topic
1 Aug 26 Electromagnetic radiation
2 Sept 2 Telescopes
3 Sept 9 Distances and magnitudes
4 Sept 16 HR diagrams
5 Sept 23The Galaxy; Physics of the main sequence
Exam 1 Sept 30 Monday, 7-9pm
6 Sept 30Stellar evolution
7 Oct 7 Compact stars
8 Oct 14 Cepheid variables
9 Oct 21 Novae, supernovae, and X-ray binaries
Exam 2 Oct 28 Monday, 7-9pm
10 Oct 28 Interstallar medium and star birth
11 Nov 4 Galactic structure
12 Nov 11 Hubble's law and large scale structure
13 Nov 18 Active galaxies
Exam 3 Nov 25 Monday, 7-9pm
14 Nov 25 Gravitation and cosmology
15 Dec 2 The big bang and its aftermath
16 Dec 9 Course review
Final Dec 12 Thursday, 2-5pm

Week 1


Week 2


Week 3


Week 4


Week 5


First Exam

The exam and solutions are posted here. The average was 71.35 (you can check out the distribution if you want) so I'll add 3.65 points to everyone's grade.

Week 6


Week 7


Week 8


Week 9


Second Exam

The exam and solutions are posted here. The average was 66.71 (you can check out the distribution if you want) so I'll add 8.29 points to everyone's grade.

Week 10


Week 11


Week 12


Week 13


Third Exam

The exam and solutions are posted here. The average was 82.07 (you can check out the distribution if you want) so everyone's grade will stay as is.

Week 14


Week 15


Week 16


Final Exam

The final exam and solutions are posted here. You can also pick up the exam images. The average was 63.75, so 11.25 points were added to everyone's score. The distribution is also available.

The distribution of class scores gives an average of 76.50. Course grades are available from Nicolle after 5pm on Monday, Dec.16, or from SIS as soon as the registrar records them.


Other Textbooks


Other Educational Web Resources on Astronomy

Some of the course transparencies are taken from these places. They are referenced above by the name in parentheses.