Module Identifier PH18010  
Module Title ASTRONOMY  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Andrew R Breen  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Nicolas Labrosse  
Pre-Requisite None- Module is also suitable for non Physics students  
Co-Requisite None  
Mutually Exclusive None  
Course delivery Lecture   20 lectures  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 3 x 40 minutes multiple choice tests100%
Supplementary Exam1.5 Hours  100%

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Brief description

The sky at night has fascinated humankind since the beginning of history. Contemporary astronomy provides us with a comprehensive picture of the physical universe, yet one in which many questions remain unanswered. This module reviews in a non-mathematical manner our present understanding of the universe and highlights important gaps in our knowledge. Topics covered include : the birth, life and death of stars (white dwarfs, black holes etc.); planets, comets and asteroids; the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe; galaxies and quasars; cosmology and the big bang. The course is suitable for undergraduates of any discipline.


The sky at night : motions of the heavens, stars and planets. Astronomy through history : ancient and Greek astronomy, the birth of modern astronomy - how astronomy has changed our concept of the universe we live in. Observing the universe.

Stars and planets: the formation of the Solar System. The Terrestrial planets, formation, differentiation and the evolution of surfaces and atmospheres. Jovian planets: atmospheres and interiors. Minor bodies of the Solar System : comets, asteroids, Pluto-Charon, meteors. Extra-solar planets and life in the universe.

Stellar properties. The Sun. Star birth and interstellar matter. Stellar evolution. The deaths of stars : black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs.

Galaxies. Classification and dynamics. The problem of missing mass. Quasars and the evolution of the Universe.

Large-scale structure of the universe. Cosmology. Origin of the Universe, the "big bang" and inflation. Eventual fate of the Universe."

Transferable skills

Introductory skills for using the Internet and other electronic sources of information.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
FOR OTHERS: M. Zeilek Astronomy, The Evolving Universe 6th. Wiley
Kaufmann & Friedmann Universe
FOR PSP STUDENTS: Marc L Kutner Astronomy - A Physical Perspective 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press 0521821967


This module is at CQFW Level 4