University of California, San Diego
Physics 7 - Introduction to Astronomy

H. E. Smith Course URL: Winter 2007

Physics 7 - Syllabus
Winter 2007

Professor: H.E. Smith  
Office: 340 SERF  
Office Hours:   T Th 11-11:30AM, or by appointment  
TA: Marc Rafelski
Office: 381B SERF
E-mail: email me
Office Hours: W 11:00-11:50AM

Lectures: TTh09:30-10:50 AM WLH 2001
Discssion Section:    We 4:00-4:50PMHSS 1330
Midterm: Thursday, February 15th     9:30 - 10:50pm (in class)
Final: Tuesday, March 20th 8:00 - 11:00am TBA


Physics 7 is an introductory course in astronomy appropriate for all students with an adequate background in high school mathematics. The course might well be titled Cosmic Evolution. We will discuss the structure and evolution of the Universe as a whole, as well as its constituents --- how galaxies formed out of the intergalactic medium, the birth and death of stars in these galaxies, neutron stars, black holes and quasars. We will emphasize the physical principles that govern the structure and evolution of the Universe and how the physical properties of the Universe and its constituents have been inferred from observation. We will not discuss positional astronomy (constellations, etc.), astrology, or solar system astronomy (which is now a course in itself --- Physics 9). Because full appreciation of the scale of the cosmos requires a fundamental knowledge of mathematics, we will assume familiarity with scientific notation, simple algebra and graphical representation.


  • Bennet et al., The Cosmic Perspective, Fourth Edition, Addison Wesley Publishing, is the recommended text. An abbreviated version, Stars, Galaxies & Cosmology covers all of the material relevant to Physics 7. Earlier editions, which may be obtained used, are perfectly acceptable.

    While the text is highly recommended, it is intended as a supplement to the material presented in lecture; examinations will be based almost solely on material presented in lecture. My lecture notes as well as answers to weekly discussion questions will be available on the course WebSite. Other books which may be useful references include:
    These are on reserve in the Undergraduate Library. There are shelves full of other texts or semi-popular books on various aspects of astronomy at the Undergraduate Library. Astronomy has been in the forefront in the use of the internet for research and education and there are a wealth of WebSites which can answer your questions, stimulate your interest in other areas of astronomy, or provide you with pretty pictures. In addition, several magazines including Scientific American, Science, Discover, Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, and Mercury regularly carry articles relevant to the course material. If you have a particular question or problem, your TA or I will be happy to suggest suitable references. In addition, bibliographies of articles and references in various publications have been published from time to time in Mercury magazine.

    Syllabus Page 2  Ph 7 Home 

    Last modified: Tues., 3 Jan. 2007