Left: The Large Magellenic Cloud.
Middle: The Outer Milky Way.
Right: The site of star formation near Lynds 1551.
Class Logistics ...... Policies ...... Syllabus ...... Resources ...... Problem Sets
This is the advanced undergraduate "ism" class at Caltech.
Our other junior/senior level course is "stars".
Armed with the knowledge from these two courses plus your additional physics background, you are equipped for our graduate classes.
Mondays and Wednesdays 2:30-4:00
To develop your understanding of course material,
roughly weekly you will be asked to do analytic work
and/or plot and analyze relevant formulae and/or data
using your favorite coding language.
The last assignment will be an oral presentation during the last week of classes on an ISM topic of your choosing, guided by a recent research paper.
Exams: The mid-term assessment will
be an evaluation of conceptual understanding rather than problem solving ability.
The final exam will be open note, closed book, and held during finals period. It will test both problem solving and conceptual understanding.
Problem sets are a critical means of learning the material,
not just "busy work." Collaboration on problem sets is permitted
in the conceptual phase of completing an assigment,
though students are expected
to work out the final solutions themselves. Several of the problem sets will
require use of computers for calculations and plotting of results.
Exams are not collaborative but handwritten notes such as class notes may be permitted.
Grading will be based on the weekly assignments (~55%), the mid-term exam (~15%), and the final exam (~30%).
If you have either constructive feedback or complaints about this course,
please come see me (or send an email). I am eager to know what is
working vs not working for you in our mutual quest.
Beyond your course reading/studying and class attendance,
a quick (daily) visit to the
Astronomy Picture of the Day
might broaden your astronomical horizons.
Texts that are appropriate for this upper level undergraduate course are the following.
Parallel reading assignments are given on the syllabus page.
These first two books both start out well, but then both get a little heavy
on the atomic, molecular, and dust spectroscopy/chemistry,
which we will not cover in the full detail they are written about.
A somewhat broader text is
The above and a few other texts
are on reserve
for this course.
In the past, location has been the astrophysics library but it may be that all Caltech course reserves are now in SFL.
Note also that there is an e-book version of the Tielens text accessible.
Other good references at this level are, listed in order of decreasing order of relevance, digestibility, and breadth:
Please please please get your sets in on time. It is easiest on everyone (the professor, the TA, and - especially - your fellow students) if all homeworks are turned in by the due date/time so that they can be graded together and turned back to you with solutions in a timely manner.
Please write next to your name on submitted work how long it took *you* to do the set.