Outline: The aim of this obscurely named course is to understand the
radiation from astronomical objects - how it's produced and
what it tells us about the physical conditions of gas
in nebulae and near the surfaces of stars, planets, accretion
disks etc. In pursuit of this goal we will explore the
structure of atoms and molecules (i.e. quantum mechanics); along
with the physics of excitation, ionization, and radiative
transitions (involving statistical mechanics). Some of the
concepts of radiative transfer and the properties of
degenerate matter will also be covered. More details are
outlined in the syllabus.
Practicalities: We'll meet Monday / Wednesday / Friday at 10:00am in Duane E126. I will be away (for a NASA review panel) on Monday August 29th and Wednesday August 31st - there will be no class those days and we'll make up the time later in the semester. Grades will be based on problem sets and a final project / presentation. Some extra credit may be earned from lively class participation. There will be no final exam, though if APS people want to practice COMPS questions in a timed situation we could certainly organize that.
Office hours: My office is A909 in the JILA tower. There are no formal office hours - you're welcome to stop by at any time with problems, queries, suggestions etc. The best time to find me in is normally afternoons (2:00-6:00pm, excepting the Monday APS colloquium slot) - call or send email if you want to be certain I'm around.
Links: You're strongly encouraged to attend both the APS Colloquia (on Mondays) and JILA lunchtime seminars as they happen (hopefully most Fridays). It's also well worth checking the new astronomy preprints, which are posted each day on astro-ph. Essentially 100% of cosmology papers are first posted to astro-ph, and the coverage is very good for the rest of astronomy. Unfortunately very few planetary science papers (excepting extrasolar planets) are posted.
Books: The `required' textbooks for this class are Radiative Processes in Astrophysics by George Rybicki and Alan Lightman, and Statistical Mechanics by R. Pathria. You don't need to buy these, though almost all astrophysicists get a copy of Rybicki and Lightman eventually. I'd hold off buying Pathria until we get to the statistical mechanics part and you find out how easy (or difficult) you find it.