University of Saskatchewan
Physics and Engineering Physics

Astronomy 103.3 2011
A Descriptive Introduction to Stellar Astronomy

Site Contents
Course Outline

Course Outline


Dr. Rob Pywell, P.Phys                                            Stan Shadick
Room: Physics 251                                                    Room: Physics 132.1
Phone: 966 6404                                                      Phone: 966 6434
E-mail:                                    E-mail:

Course Objectives

The top student in ASTR 103 in 2010-2011 will be eligible to receive the C.W. Lake Prize in Astronomy awarded each year by the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics.


The general topics to be covered are:

See the Lecture Schedule for a more detailed list of topics.

Required Materials

  1. Universe: Stars and Galaxies, Fourth Edition, by Roger Freedman,William J. Kaufmann, and Robert Geller. (Freeman) Note that this is part of the larger text book Universe, Ninth Edition, which would also be suitable for this course.
  2. TurningPoint RF Response Card (Clicker) from Turning Technologies, Available from the Campus Computer Store.
  3. You will need to use a calculator.  Any scientific calculator may be used.


PHYS 115 or GE 124. (A prerequisite waiver may be given for students without the prerequisite provided he/she has knowledge of basic algebra and has some high school physics.)

Class Web Page

The class web page,, will be used throughout the course for posting announcements, assignment questions and solutions, test solutions, assignment and test marks, and many other supplementary materials. You can access it through PAWS or directly through the above link.




Classroom Participation


Mid-Term Test




Final Examination




Note: The laboratories are an integral part of this course. Completion of all the laboratory experiments is mandatory to receive a passing grade in the course. If you do not complete all the labs your grade calculated without the laboratory component, or 49%, whichever is less, will be your final grade.

Note: Attendance at the final examination is mandatory for receiving a passing grade. If you do not write the final examination your grade calculated without the final examination component, or 49%, whichever is less, will be your final grade. If you miss the final examination you may, depending on the circumstances, be able to apply for a Deferred or Special Deferred examination.

Mid-Term Test and Final Examination

Mid-Term Test will be 50 minutes long and will be on the lecture material that was covered to about a week before date of the test. The Final Examination is 3 hours long and covers the whole year’s work. The Mid-Term Test will be scheduled during the tutorial time.

The Tests are scheduled:

Mid-Term Test

Friday March 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Final Examination

April, 2010 (TBA)

Information on exam rooms, details of the exam format, and the material that will be covered on each test, will be announced prior to each test.


Homework assignment questions will be will be given out usually each week. You will have one week to complete each assignment and hand it in. Assignments will be graded and will count 15% toward your final grade.

Academic Honesty

Cheating in any form, including plagiarism (copying), is treated as a serious offence by the University. You should familiarize yourself with the material contained on the University website


Fridays, 3:30 pm – 4:20 pm, Room 103 Physics Building

Tutorials will be held regularly throughout the term, but not necessarily every week. The purpose of the tutorials is to
provide additional opportunity to ask questions.
provide more examples and illustrations than are possible in the lectures.
provide additional material that will help you prepare for Examinations.
provide additional opportunity to interact with your instructors and class mates.
provide for group activities such as “Group Challenge Questions.”

Classroom Participation

During the lectures questions will be asked for which you will be able to give an individual response using the clickers. These questions will help your instructor gauge your understanding of the material and help you think about the concepts being presented. You will not be graded on your responses but you will be expected to participate in these interactive activities. Part of the “classroom participation” grade will be awarded for your participation.

During some of the tutorials you will be expected to participate in “Group Challenge Questions” in which you will work with a group of students to answer a question. The group response will be marked and will also contribute to the classroom participation grade.

Mathematics Requirements

This course is primarily a descriptive introduction to stellar astronomy, however some use of basic algebra will be needed to help illustrate and explain the basic concepts. This includes the use of scientific notation for very large or small numbers. Reviews of the required mathematics will be given in the lectures where needed. The use of a scientific calculator will be needed for some aspects of the course.

Office Hours

For Dr. Pywell: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 1:30 – 2:30 in Room 251 Physics.

You are welcome to come and see Dr. Pywell about any aspect of Astronomy 103. He will endeavour to be in my office and available at the above times during term, however there will be times when he is unavoidably called away. He will try to let you know in advance if he is not going to be available at the above times. You are welcome to come to see him at other times as well, if he is available.

For Stan Shadick: No Formal office hours but he is usually available for consultation about any aspect of astronomy on most weekday mornings or afternoons in Room 132.1 (office) or in physics lab rooms 125, 131 or 204.


Students registered in lab section L02 (CRN: 27934) will have their weekly labs on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 pm – 9:50 pm.
Students registered in lab section L03 (CRN: 27935) will have their weekly labs on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 pm – 9:50 pm.

There will be a total of 5 laboratory sessions for this course. Attendance is compulsory. You will be notified by email prior to 6:30 pm when labs are cancelled or if the meeting location is changed. Unless advised otherwise by email, labs will meet in the Arts and Science Computer Laboratory (ASCL) in Room 6 Physics building.

Some labs will involve learning the basics of telescope observing and basic CCD monochrome imaging. Other labs will involve computer simulations of telescope projects. As it is often very cold when observing at the telescope on winter evenings, you should dress appropriately (winter hat, coat, gloves, etc.)

Two days before each scheduled lab, you will need to complete the prelab described in the relevant files posted in the laboratory folder of the files section of the ASTR 103 course homepage on PAWS.

The first labs are tentatively scheduled for the evenings of January 11 and 12, 2011.
For this lab, you will meet at the campus observatory on Wiggins Road at 7:00 pm.
Following a brief observing session of Jupiter and its moons, you will walk to Room 6 Physics to complete a computer simulated laboratory examining the orbital motion of Jupiter’s moons. Check your email at 6:30 pm in case the meeting place is changed due to cloudy weather.

The ASTR 103.3 laboratory coordinator is Stan Shadick.
Room: 132.1 Physics
Phone: 966 6434
Please see him about any questions related to the laboratories.

Campus Observatory

The campus observatory is open to the public on every Saturday evening in January and February from 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm and in March from 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm. You are welcome to visit the observatory and observe a variety of celestial objects on any clear Saturday evening.

Astronomy Minor Program

Arts and Science students may obtain an Astronomy minor when completing a degree in any other subject. (Physics students may receive an Astronomy specialization.) To receive an Astronomy Minor, students must complete 18 credit units of Astronomy courses. The additional 15 credit units will normally be selected from 5 of the following Astronomy courses. These courses are also open to students in any college as electives without participating in the Astronomy Minor program. Some prerequisites may be waived in special cases.

ASTR 102.3 Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology
(Next offered in Term 1 of 2011-2012)
The course provides an overview of the large scale structure of the universe on a descriptive level. Topics include the structure of our own galaxy, the local group of galaxies, the classification of galaxies, and galaxy clusters. Galactic and extragalactic distance scales are also introduced. Further topics include the energy and matter content of the observable universe, evidence for dark mailer and dark energy, and the history of the universe from the big bang to the present epoch.
No Prerequisite

ASTR 213.3 Astronomical Photometry

(Likely next offered Term 1 2012-2013)
Students will use telescopes equipped with CCD cameras to perform photometric studies of a star cluster, asteroid and variable stars (eclipsing binaries, pulsating stars, erupting stars, exploding stars).
Prerequisite: ASTR 101 or 103 or PHYS 111 or 115 or 121 or 128 or 155.

ASTR 214.3 Astronomical Spectroscopy
(Likely next offered Term 1 2011-2012)
Students will use telescopes equipped with CCD cameras to perform spectroscopic studies of a stellar orbits, temperatures and galaxies plus obtain colour images of nebulae.
Prerequisite: ASTR 101 or PHYS 111 or 115 or 121 or 128 or 155.
ASTR 310.3 Galactic Astronomy & Cosmography
(Likely next offered Term 2 in 2012-2013)
The class will study galaxies, the Quasar -Supermassive Black Hole connection and galactic cannibalism. Big Bang cosmological models will be studied in detail.
Prerequisites: (ASTR 101 or 103 or 213 or 214) and (PHYS 128 or 251) and (MATH 224 or 226, 238)

ASTR 312.3 Stars and Stellar Evolution

(Likely next offered Term 2 in 2011-2012)
This class will study models of stellar structure and evolution including dwarfs, giants, novae, supernovae, black holes, pulsars and binary stars.
Prerequisites: Same as for ASTR 310.
ASTR 320.3 Astronomy of the Solar System
This class will study the formation, evolution and dynamics of the solar system.
Prerequisites: Same as for ASTR 310.

ASTR 411.3 Gravitation and Cosmology
(Likely next offered Term 2 in 2012-2013)
This class will study General Relativity and its applications to Gravitation and Cosmology.

Prerequisites: MATH 338 and (EP 315 or PHYS 251) and 3 cu of Astronomy.
If you wish to join this program or wish to take some of these courses as electives, then you should contact Stan Shadick for additional information about prerequisites and program rules.

Lecture Schedule

Here, approximately, are the topics that we will be covering in each lecture. Also listed are the chapters of the text book (Universe: Stars and Galaxies, Fourth Edition, by Roger Freedman, William J. Kaufmann, and Robert Geller.) which are most relevant for that lecture.  Please note that this list will almost certainly change as the year progresses. Updates will be posted on the web site as changes are made.

Term 2 - 2011






Thur. Jan. 6

Introduction to the course. Distance scales.



Tues. Jan. 11

Unit conversions. The Celestial Sphere. Angle Units. The Solar System: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe Models.

1, 2 & 4


Thur. Jan. 13

Kepler’s Laws, Galileo’s Observations, Newton’s Laws.



Tues. Jan. 18

Newton’s Law of Gravity.  Tides. Basic Telescope Properties.

4 & 6


Thur. Jan. 20

Basic Telescope Properties (cont.).



Tues. Jan. 25

Stellar Distances: Parallax. Spectral Classification: Light, Blackbody Radiation, Stellar Temperatures, Spectral lines.

5 & 17


Thur. Jan. 27

Spectral Classification of Stars, Measuring Stellar Temperatures, Stellar Luminosity. Apparent and Absolute Magnitudes. Stellar Radii.



Tues. Feb. 1

The Atom. Photons. Stellar Spectra.

5 & 17


Thur. Feb. 3

Stellar Spectra (cont.). Measuring Stellar Spectra. Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram. Spectroscopic Parallax



Tues. Feb. 8

Binary Stars – Stellar Mass Determination. Mass-Luminosity Relation. The Doppler Effect, Spectroscopic Binaries.



Thur. Feb. 10

Spectroscopic Binaries (cont.). Eclipsing Binaries. The Sun. Thermonuclear Fusion. Mass-Energy.

17 & 16


Tues. Feb. 15

Thermonuclear Fusion (cont.). A Model of the Sun



Thur. Feb. 17

Solar Neutrinos. The Sun (cont.). Magnetic Fields. The Surface of the Sun.



Feb. 21-26

Mid-Term Break



Tues. Mar. 1

The Surface of the Sun (cont.). Stellar Evolution: The Birth of Stars – Nebulae.

16 & 18


Thur. Mar. 3

The Formation of Stars.



Tues. Mar. 8

Star Clusters. Molecular Clouds. Star Formation (cont.). Stellar Evolution. The Main Sequence.

18 & 19


Thur. Mar. 10

Main Sequence Stars. Red Dwarves. Red Giants. Helium Fusion.



Fri. Mar. 11

Mid-Term Examination



Tues. Mar. 15

The Evolution of Stars. Stellar Clusters. Stellar Populations. Variable Stars. Cepheid Variables.



Thur. Mar. 17

Cepheid Variables (cont.). Binary Stars. AGB Stars. Planetary Nebulae.

19 & 20


Tues. Mar. 22

White Dwarves. Supergiant Stars. Core Collapse Supernovae.



Thur. Mar. 24

Supernovae (cont.). Supernovae Remnants. Neutron Stars.

20 & 21


Tues. Mar. 29




Thur. Mar. 31

Millisecond Pulsars, X-ray Bursters.



Tues. Apr. 5

Escape Velocity. Special Relativity, General Relativity.



Thur. Apr. 7

Black Holes. Gamma-Ray Bursters. Supermassive Black Holes.