Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics
About the Course
This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.View class sessions »
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2007.
Video and audio elements from this course are also available on:
About Professor Charles Bailyn
Charles Bailyn is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Astronomy and Physics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Astronomy at Yale. He earned a B.S. in astronomy and physics from Yale in 1981 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard in 1987. His recent research efforts have focused on observations of binary star systems containing black holes and on stellar collisions in dense star clusters. He has lectured on "How To See a Black Hole" to school groups, Yale alumni, and amateur astronomical societies. He is the author of over 100 scientific papers, and his work was featured in the PBS mini-series, Mysteries of Deep Space.
Charles Bailyn, Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Astronomy and Physics
This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.
See reading assignments for individual lectures
There will be weekly problem sets that contain both quantitative problems and essay-type questions. Policies for lateness and collaboration on problem sets are described in the short essay, Problem Sets in Theory and Practice [PDF].
There will be two in-class tests, and a final exam. All of these exams will be open book, but electronic aids, including calculators, are not allowed.
Discussion sections are required and will form a crucial part of the course: part of each section will be devoted to understanding the current problem set. There will be an optional 6-12 page paper [PDF]. It will be worth 10% and will reduce the weight of the weakest major portion of the grade from 30% to 15%. However, no problems sets or tests can be dropped altogether.
Problem sets: 30%
Two in-class exams: 30% (20% for the stronger grade, 10% for the weaker one)
Discussion section attendance and participation: 10%
Final examination: 30%
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Join a Study Group
Through a pilot arrangement with Open Yale Courses, OpenStudy offers tools to participate in online study groups for a selection of Open Yale Courses, including ASTR 160. If you wish to participate in one of these study groups, you will need to register for a free account with OpenStudy.View study group
Course Books and Other Related Titles
Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in ASTR 160 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.View the catalog for this course