Five College Astronomy
Departments

COURSES

Meeting times for courses for the current semester can be found in the online Course Catalog. Because of the differences among the academic calendars of the five colleges, courses designated "FC" may begin later than Smith courses do. Please call the Five College Astronomy Office (545–0789 or 545–2194) to confirm LOCATIONS and START DATES of all FC classes.

Smith College reserves the right to make changes to all announcements and course listings online, including changes in its course offerings, instructors, requirements for the majors and minors, and degree requirements.

100 Survey of the Universe

Discover how the forces of nature shape our understanding of the cosmos. Explore the origin, structure, and evolution of the earth, moons and planets, comets and asteroids, the sun and other stars, star clusters, the Milky Way and other galaxies, clusters of galaxies, and the universe as a whole. Designed for non-science majors.  4 credits.
Meets spring semesters.

102 Sky I: TIME
Explore the concept of time, with emphasis on the astronomical roots of clocks and calendars. Observe and measure the cyclical motions of the sun, the moon, and the stars and understand phases of the moon, lunar and solar eclipses, seasons. Designed for non-science majors. Enrollment limited to 25 per section. 4 credits.  Meets every semester.

103 Sky II: Telescopes
View the sky with the telescopes of the McConnell Rooftop Observatory, including the moon, the sun, the planets, nebulae and galaxies. Learn to use a telescope on your own, and find out about celestial coordinates and time-keeping systems. Designed for non-science majors. Enrollment limited to 20 students per section.  3 credits.
Meets fall semesters.

111 Introduction to Astronomy

A comprehensive introduction to the study of modern astronomy that explores the celestial bodies that inhabit the universe—planets, stars and galaxies—and examines the universe itself- its origin, structure, and ultimate destiny. Designed for students who are comfortable with mathematics. Prerequisite: MTH 102 or the equivalent. 4 credits.
Meets fall semesters.

113 Telescopes and Techniques

A beginning class in observational astronomy for students who have taken or are currently taking a physical science class or the equivalent. Become proficient using the telescopes of the McConnell Rooftop observatory to observe celestial objects, including the moon, the sun, the planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies. Learn celestial coordinate and time-keeping systems. Find out how telescopes and digital cameras work. Take digital images of celestial objects and learn basic techniques of digital image processing. Become familiar with measuring and classification techniques in observational astronomy. Enrollment limited to 20 students.  4 credits.
Meets spring semesters.

220 FC20 Special Topics in Astronomy

Recent topics include Astronomy and Public Policy, Asteroids, Bringing Astronomy Down to Earth: The Art of Communicating Science through Electronic Media. Current topic is Astrobiology. Prerequisite: one science course in any field.  4 credits.
Meets fall semesters.

223 FC23 Planetary Science

An introductory course for physical science majors. Topics include: planetary orbits, rotation and precession; gravitational and tidal interactions; interiors and atmospheres of the Jovian and terrestrial planets; surfaces of the terrestrial planets and satellites; asteroids, comets, and planetary rings; origin and evolution of the planets. Prerequisites: one semester of calculus and one semester of a physical science. 4 credits.
Meets spring semesters.

224 FC24 Stellar Astronomy

Discover the fundamental properties of stars from the analysis of digital images and application of basic laws of physics. Extensive use of computers and scientific programming and data analysis. Offered in alternate years with 225. Prerequisites: PHY 115, MTH 111, plus one astronomy class. 4 credits
Meets fall semesters; alternates with AST225.

225 FC25 Galaxies and Dark Matter

The discovery of dark matter and the role of gravity in determining the mass of the universe will be explored in an interactive format making extensive use of computer simulations and independent projects. Offered in alternate years with 224. Prerequisites: PHY 115, MTH 111, plus one astronomy class. 4 credits.
Meets fall semesters; alternates with AST224.

226 FC26 Cosmology

Cosmological models and the relationship between models and observable parameters. Topics in current astronomy that bear upon cosmological problems, including background electromagnetic radiation, nucleosynthesis, dating methods, determinations of the mean density of the universe and the Hubble constant, and tests of gravitational theories. Discussion of some questions concerning the foundations of cosmology and its future as a science. Prerequisites: MTH 111 and one physical science course. 4 credits.
Offered once a year.

228 FC28 Astrophysics I: Stars and Galaxies
A calculus-based introduction to the properties, structure, formation and evolution of stars and galaxies. The laws of gravity, thermal physics, and atomic physics provide a basis for understanding observed properties of stars, interstellar gas and dust. We apply these concepts to develop an understanding of stellar atmospheres, interiors, and evolution, the interstellar medium, and the Milky Way and other galaxies. Prerequisites: two semesters of college-level physics (concurrent enrollment is acceptable) and second-semester calculus. 4 credits.
Offered once or twice a year.

330 FC30 Seminar: Topics in Astrophysics
In class discussions a set of problems will be formulated, each designed to illuminate a significant aspect of the topic at hand. The problems will be significant in difficulty and broad in scope: their solution, worked out individually and in class discussions, will constitute the real work of the course. Students will gain experience in both oral and written presentation. Topics vary from year to year. Recent topics include Mars, Moon and Cosmology and Galaxy Formation. Prerequisite depends on topic. 4 credits

335 FC35 Astrophysics II: Stellar Structure

Direct determinations of distances in the solar system and to nearby stars. Indirect measurements of the distances to more distant stars and galaxies. Celestial mechanics, interactions of radiation with matter, thermal radiation, stellar structure, formation of spectral lines and stellar pulsation. Prerequisites: AST 228 plus 4 semesters college physics. 4 credits.
Meets fall semesters

337 FC37 Observational Techniques in Optical and Infrared Astronomy
An introduction to the techniques of gathering and analyzing astronomical data, particularly in the optical and infrared. Telescope design and optics. Instrumentation for imaging, photometry and spectroscopy. Astronomical detectors. Computer graphics and image processing. Error analysis and curve fitting. Prerequisites:at least one of AST 224, 225, or 228, and 3 physics courses.  4 credits.
Spring semesters

352 FC52 Astrophysics III: Galaxies and the Universe

The application of physics to the understanding of astronomical phenomena related to galaxies. Dynamics and structure of stellar systems: the virial theorem and Jeans' equations and their applications; galaxy rotation and the presence of dark matter in the universe; spiral density waves. The stellar content of galaxies: star formation and the principle of stellar population synthesis. Physical processes in the gaseous interstellar medium: photoionization and HII regions and emission lines; shocks in supernova remnants and stellar jets; energy balance in molecular clouds. Quasars and active galactic nuclei: synchrotron radiation; accretion disks; supermassive black holes. Students are involved in the course in discussion, oral presentations, and lab projects. Prerequisites: four semesters of physics beyond PHY 118.
Spring semesters.

400 Special Studies

Independent research in astronomy.  Admission by permission of the department. The student is expected to define her own project and to work independently, under the supervision of a faculty member. 1 to 4 credits.