orbits_light_p1 - AST 301: What you will have to learn and...

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AST 301: What you will have to learn and get used to 1. Basic types of objects in the universe Planets, stars, galaxies, a few things inbetween--look through your textbook soon! You will have to learn: a. Basic properties of these objects--basically whatever we can measure: how bright, surface temperature, distance, … b. How “we” determine those properties from observations…of what? Light is basically all we get, since we can never visit. (That’s why chapters 3 and 4 are so important.) c. Theories for their origin and evolution that can match the observations in a and b. These involve various physical processes that you will have to understand, but only superficially. 2. Units of measurement Astronomical unit AU, parsec (roughly: average distance between stars) for distances; degree or (most commonly) arcsecond (will return to this because it occurs all through the course), scientific notation (see below). 3. A few fundamental physical “laws” Kepler’s laws, Newton’s laws, blackbody radiation laws understand these and your troubles are over!). This is where we will spend most time for first exam. The math isn’t so important as understanding the ideas behind them.
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Suggestions for getting started: These preliminaries are important: Use new terminology often enough so that you are fully adjusted and comfortable with it well before any exam. There is no way to adjust to terminology in a few days: You have to encounter it and use it as frequently as possible. Examples: inverse-square law, arcsecond, blackbody radiation, types of stars and galaxies,… The list will run into the 100s. In astronomy, there is a huge range of size, mass, distance, and other scales that you will encounter, from atoms to planets to galaxies. Now is a good time to see if you can guess a typical value for the sizes of these various objects. Then try to look them up in the book, a good chance to skim through your textbook. Don’t worry about meters, inches, yards, or any everyday unit of measurement--we will have to define some new yardsticks (e.g. AU, light year, parsec, Megaparsec, for distances and sizes…). One of the most important has to do with angular size -- understand it now and avoid later frustration--examples in class. You don’t have to know them numerically , except in a very rough way (I’ll explain in class and with examples). Scientific notation for very large and small numbers ( read Appendix 1 in text). Examples
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course AST 301 taught by Professor Harvey during the Fall '07 term at University of Texas.

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orbits_light_p1 - AST 301: What you will have to learn and...

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