Instructor: Steven R. Cranmer   (email, web page)
Instructor's Office:   Duane Physics D111 (main campus), LASP/SPSC N218 (east campus)
Course Times:     Spring 2020, Tues./Thurs., 11:00 am to 12:15 pm
Location: Duane Physics, Room E126
Office Hours: Duane D111: Mon. 3:00-3:45, Wed. 1:00-1:45, Thurs. 12:30-1:00
Syllabus: See the most up-to-date PDF version.


Summary

This course covers the topics in modern physics that are required for upper-level astrophysics and planetary science courses, including quantum mechanics, electromagnetic spectra, atomic and nuclear physics, and thermodynamics, in the context of astrophysics, planetary, and space sciences. When necessary, we also introduce key topics from beyond first-year calculus (such as vector functions, partial derivatives, multiple integrals, and differential equations) needed to support these topics.

Course Material

The primary "required readings" are my lecture notes, which will be posted below on this page (and possibly also Canvas) as the semester progresses. Other links for this course include:

Lectures

Below is a detailed schedule that will list the material to be covered in each class session, links to electronic copies of any handouts and problem sets, and various course deadlines.

  1. Tues., January 14: Introductory lecture. Overview of course syllabus. Vectors and coordinate systems.

  2. Thur., January 16: Vectors, coordinate systems, and basic differential equations.

  3. Tues., January 21: Gravitational dynamics and orbits.

  4. Thur., January 23: Gravitational dynamics and orbits.

  5. Tues., January 28: Introduction to Einstein's relativity.
    • Homework 1 due.
    • Homework 2 assigned, due Tues., February 11.

  6. Thur., January 30: Introduction to Einstein's relativity.

  7. Tues., February 4: Introduction to Einstein's relativity.

  8. Thur., February 6: Partial and vector derivatives; multiple integrals.

  9. Tues., February 11: Partial and vector derivatives; multiple integrals.
    • Homework 2 due.

  10. Thur., February 13: Gases, plasmas, and thermodynamics in astronomy.

  11. Tues., February 18: In-class Midterm Exam 1. Also, continue discussing gases, plasmas, and thermodynamics in astronomy.

  12. Thur., February 20: Gases, plasmas, and thermodynamics in astronomy.

  13. Tues., February 25: Gases, plasmas, and thermodynamics in astronomy.
    • Homework 3 assigned, due Tues., March 10.

  14. Thur., February 27: Light and its interaction with matter.

  15. Tues., March 3: Light and its interaction with matter.

  16. Thur., March 5: Light and its interaction with matter.

  17. Tues., March 10: Light and its interaction with matter.
    • Homework 3 due.
    • Homework 4 assigned, due Thurs., April 2.

  18. Thur., March 12: Light and its interaction with matter.

  19. Tues., March 17: Atoms and an introduction to quantum mechanics.

  20. Thur., March 19: Atoms and an introduction to quantum mechanics.

      [March 23-27: Spring Break, no classes.]

  21. Tues., March 31: Atoms and an introduction to quantum mechanics.

  22. Thur., April 2: Atoms and an introduction to quantum mechanics.
    • Homework 4 due.
    • Homework 5 assigned, due Thurs., April 23.

  23. Tues., April 7: In-class Midterm Exam 2. Also, continue discussing atoms and quantum mechanics.

  24. Thur., April 9: Understanding astronomical spectra.

  25. Tues., April 14: Understanding astronomical spectra.

  26. Thur., April 16: Understanding astronomical spectra.

  27. Tues., April 21: Understanding astronomical spectra.

  28. Thur., April 23: Nuclear physics: radioactivity, fusion, fission.
    • Homework 5 due.

  29. Tues., April 28: Nuclear physics: radioactivity, fusion, fission.

  30. Thur., April 30: Nuclear physics: radioactivity, fusion, fission.

      [Fri., May 1: Reading Day, Final Exam Week: May 2-6.]