Creative Commons License Copyright © Michael Richmond. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Physics 240, "Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology"

This material can be found online at URL

Outline for the course, class schedule, etc.

Grades for the course are now available.


  1. Introduction, some background, and units. You might want to make a copy of the equations we'll use in this course.

  2. Astronomy in the News and Spectra
  3. The Milky Way (a review of sorts)
  4. Other views of the Milky Way and other galaxies.

  5. Galaxy Taxonomy
  6. The Local Group: who are the galaxies in your neighborhood?
  7. Groups and Clusters of Galaxies

  8. Here Be Monsters: Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and quasars
  9. Black Holes at the centers of galaxies

    Christmas Break

  10. Gamma Ray Bursts: The Past
  11. Gamma Ray Bursts: The Present and Future

    Midterm occurs on Tuesday, Jan 9

  12. Astronomy in the News
  13. Theory of Gravitational Lensing
  14. Microlensing
  15. What have we learned from Gravitational Lenses?

    The Cosmological Distance Ladder

  16. Step I: The Size of the Earth and Solar System
  17. Step II: The distances to nearby stars via parallax
  18. Step III: Using the color-magnitude diagram
  19. Step IV: Cepheids and the distance to the LMC
  20. Step V: Using Cepheids to measure distances to nearby galaxies
  21. Step VI: Estimating distances to distant galaxies

    Relics from the past

  22. The distance/velocity connection
  23. The Chemical Composition of Stars and the Universe
  24. The Cosmic Microwave Background

    Models of the Universe

  25. The Big Bang Model
  26. What are the proper parameters?
  27. The future of the Universe

  28. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey
  29. Astronomy in the News

  30. Suggested problems to review for the final

    Final occurs Friday, Feb 23, 9:15 - 11:15 AM, 08-2300

Homework Assignments

  1. Stellar motions near the center of the Milky Way
  2. The Andromeda Galaxy
    If you use the WWW form interface to SkyView instead of the Java interface, watch out for tricky false color images in astronomy ...
  3. Because of bad weather, some people were unable to do the "Radius of the Earth" assignment. Therefore, I've created a backup for it. You must turn in one of the two following assignments -- either is acceptable. You are free to turn in both, of course!
  4. Measure the distance to downtown Rochester

Reading material

There are two textbooks for this class. In addition, some of the material you need to read is taken from a small set of popular science magazines: Scientific American, Sky and Telescope, Astronomy, New Scientist. You can find all these in the RIT Library. I have collected articles from recent issues of these journals and placed them on electronic reserve. In order to access them, you need to know the login name and password for the course.

You can find a list of reading materials and instructions for accessing them on the Reading Materials page.

Other resources

This page maintained by Michael Richmond. Last modified Feb 20, 2001.

Creative Commons License Copyright © Michael Richmond. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.