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PHSI170 Sun, Earth and Universe

Paper Description

Image of sunset over the Pacific from space (from NASA)This paper provides a primarily descriptive approach to understanding the Sun-Earth system, and its place in the wider Universe. Lecture topics include ancient, classical, and modern astronomy, stellar evolution, supernovae, black holes, cosmology, and the exploration of the solar system. Special topics included are: "The size and age of the universe", "The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence", and "What would be the effect of a large meteor impact on the Earth?" The importance of historical aspects and the progressive development of ideas will be emphasized, with a minimum of mathematics. This course is intended for students who have an interest in a broad education. We aim to facilitate a continuing interest in Astronomy and space exploration.

The course consists of 24 lectures, 6 one-hour tutorial sessions and 6 three-hour laboratory classes. There is a mid-school test and two essays.

Assessment:
Final exam 60%, Essays 15%, Mid-school test 10%, Laboratories 10%, Tutorials 5%.

Course Coordinator:
 Professor Craig Rodger

Lecture Topics

Topic
The size of the Universe, notation
A sense of time
Ancient astronomy and astrology
Parallax, astronomical systems and distance measurements
Galileo, Newton and the telescope
Spectroscopy and the classification of stars
Hertzsprung–Russell diagram and spectroscopic parallax
Fission, fusion and proto stars
Main sequence stars; death of stars
Exotic stars (Neutron stars, Black holes, etc)
Our solar system; our Sun
The biggest rulers & galaxy formation
Hubble's law, the big bang and cosmology
Life in the Universe & SETI
Textbook:Seeds and Backman (Foundations of Astronomy, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 14th edition, 2019)

 

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Details

This non-advancing paper progresses in a largely descriptive way through the essentials of our understandings of the Sun-Earth system, and its place in the wider Universe. Lecture topics include ancient and classical astronomy, stellar evolution, black holes, cosmology, and the exploration of the solar system. The importance of historical aspects and the progressive development of ideas is emphasised, with a minimum of mathematics.

Special topics included are: "the size and age of the universe", "the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence" and "what would be the effect of a large meteor impact on the Earth?" This paper is intended for students who have an interest in a broad education. We aim to facilitate a continuing interest in astronomy and space exploration.

Paper title Sun, Earth and Universe
Paper code PHSI170
Subject Physics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,059.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,627.65

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Schedule C
Science
Eligibility
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.
Contact
craig.rodger@otago.ac.nz
Teaching staff
Professor Craig Rodger
Textbooks
Text books are not required for this paper.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation. View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students completing this paper will:

  1. Be aware of the essential aspects of our understanding of the wider Universe.
  2. Know the importance of historical aspects and the progressive development of ideas.
  3. Grasp the range of scale sizes and numerical values needed to describe astronomical scales of time, space and mass.

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Timetable

Summer School

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
A1 Monday 13:00-13:50 2-7
Tuesday 13:00-13:50 2-7
Wednesday 13:00-13:50 2-5, 7
Thursday 13:00-13:50 2-7

Practical

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
A1 Thursday 15:00-17:50 2-7

Tutorial

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
A1 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 2-5, 7