8.282J | Spring 2006 | Undergraduate
Introduction to Astronomy


1 Aristarchus’ Method of Determining the Distance to the Moon

Aristarchus’ Method of Determining the Distance to the Sun

Accuracy of Parallax Measurements of Stars

Distances to the Four Closest Stars

Practice with Angles

Solar Power

Power Output

2 Copernicus’ Method of Finding the Distance to an Inferior Planet

Copernicus’ Method of Finding the Distance to a Superior Planet

Mass of Jupiter

Black Hole at the Center of our Galaxy

Geosynchronous Satellite

Dynamical Timescale of the Earth

3 Eccentric Orbits

Doppler Effect

Determination of the AU from Doppler Shifts

Determining the Mass of a Neutron Star

Planetary Orbital Periods


Optics Problem

4 Short Problems on the Sensitivity and Angular Resolution of Telescopes

Three-Slit Diffraction Problem

Divergence of a Laser Beam

X-Ray Mirror

Semiclassical Derivation of the Energy Levels of the Hydrogen Atom

Short Optics Problems

Snell’s Law Derived from Fermat’s Principle

5 Derivation of the Stefan-Boltzmann and Wien Radiation Laws

Short Answer Questions on Magnitudes

Moving Cluster Method - The Hyades Cluster

Binary Orbit 1, 2, 3, and 4

6 Magnitudes

Planck Distribution

The Visual and Spectroscopic Binary Sirius A and B

Short Binary Problems from Zeilik and Gregory

Short Questions on Spectral Types

Eclipsing Binary

Binary Radio Pulsar

7 Spectroscopic Parallax

Orbiting Globular Cluster

Spherical, Uniform-Density Model of the Galaxy

Model Galactic Rotation Curve

Absorption in the Galactic Plane

Rotation Curve

8 Constructing the Galactic Rotation Curve

Oort Constants

Kinematic Distances

Simplified Model of a Star

Fueling the Sun

Main-Sequence Lifetimes

Nuclear Binding Energies

9 Dimensional Analysis of Equations of Stellar Structure

Spectroscopic Parallax for a Globular Cluster

Ascending the Giant Branch

Mean Density of Collapsed Stars

Cooling White Dwarf

Maximum Rotation Rate for a Pulsar

Pulsar Spin-Down

Blackbody Radiation from a Neutron Star

10 Collapsing White Dwarf

Maximum Distances for Applying Standard Candles

Distance to a Nova

Optical Luminosity of a Supernova at Maximum

Cepheid Variables as Distance Indicators

Variations in the Radius of Cepheid Variables

11 X-Ray Burst Source

Accretion Powered X-Ray Source

Interstellar Extinction

21-cm Hydrogen Radiation

Distance to a Dark Cloud

Short Problems

Short Problems

Planetary Nebula

12 Orbiting Galaxies

Distance Determinations

Galaxy Redshift from the Ca II K Line

Measuring a Quasar Redshift

Identifying the Lines and Determining the Redshift of a Quasar

A Simple Determination of the Hubble Law

Free-Fall Time for a Cluster of Galaxies

Luminosity Function of Galaxies in Rich Clusters

13 Relativistic Doppler Effect

Cygnus A Radio Galaxy

Feeding a Black Hole

Distance-Redshift Relation

H0, _τ_0, and _ρ_crit \n \nExpanding Balloon Analogy

Scale Factor and Age vs. Redshift

Dust in the Universe


The following computational problem sets are optional. For reference on the Runge-Kutta method of numerical integration, please see Numerical Recipes in Fortran, Chapter 16.1.

1 The Kepler Problem (PDF) (PDF - 2.5 MB)
2 Stellar Polytropes (PDF) (PDF - 1.6 MB)
3 White Dwarf Models (PDF)  
Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2006
Learning Resource Types
assignment_turned_in Problem Sets with Solutions
grading Exams