Astronomy Minor

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Overview

This minor provides students with an opportunity for additional study in astronomy in order to build a secondary area of expertise in support of their major or other areas of interest. It will provide students with a broad foundational background in astronomy in preparation for graduate studies in astronomy or astrophysics. The minor is interdisciplinary and offered jointly by the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.

The program code for Astronomy Minor is ASTRO-MN.

Curriculum for Astronomy Minor

Course
Prerequisites
MATH-181
Project-Based Calculus I
This is the first in a two-course sequence intended for students majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering. It emphasizes the understanding of concepts, and using them to solve physical problems. The course covers functions, limits, continuity, the derivative, rules of differentiation, applications of the derivative, Riemann sums, definite integrals, and indefinite integrals. (Prerequisite: A- or better in MATH-111 or A- or better in ((NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275) and NMTH-220) or a math placement exam score greater than or equal to 70 or department permission to enroll in this class.) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
MATH-182
Project-Based Calculus II
This is the second in a two-course sequence intended for students majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering. It emphasizes the understanding of concepts, and using them to solve physical problems. The course covers techniques of integration including integration by parts, partial fractions, improper integrals, applications of integration, representing functions by infinite series, convergence and divergence of series, parametric curves, and polar coordinates. (Prerequisites: C- or better in (MATH-181 or MATH-173 or 1016-282) or (MATH-171 and MATH-180) or equivalent course(s).) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
PHYS-211
University Physics I
This is a course in calculus-based physics for science and engineering majors. Topics include kinematics, planar motion, Newton's Laws, gravitation, work and energy, momentum and impulse, conservation laws, systems of particles, rotational motion, static equilibrium, mechanical oscillations and waves, and data presentation/analysis. The course is taught in a workshop format that integrates the material traditionally found in separate lecture and laboratory courses. (Prerequisites: C- or better in MATH-181 or equivalent course. Co-requisites: MATH-182 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
PHYS-212
University Physics II
This course is a continuation of PHYS-211, University Physics I. Topics include electrostatics, Gauss' law, electric field and potential, capacitance, resistance, DC circuits, magnetic field, Ampere's law, inductance, and geometrical and physical optics. The course is taught in a lecture/workshop format that integrates the material traditionally found in separate lecture and laboratory courses. (Prerequisites: (PHYS-211 or PHYS-211A or PHYS-206 or PHYS-216) or (MECE-102, MECE-103 and MECE-205) and (MATH-182 or MATH-172 or MATH-182A) or equivalent courses. Grades of C- or better are required in all prerequisite courses.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
PHYS-213
Modern Physics I
This course provides an introductory survey of elementary quantum physics, as well as basic relativistic dynamics. Topics include the photon, wave-particle duality, deBroglie waves, the Bohr model of the atom, the Schrodinger equation and wave mechanics, quantum description of the hydrogen atom, electron spin, and multi-electron atoms. (Prerequisites: PHYS-209 or PHYS-212 or PHYS-217or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Required Course
PHYS-220
University Astronomy
This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of astronomy and astrophysics for scientists and engineers. Topics include the celestial sphere, celestial mechanics, methods of data acquisition, planetary systems, stars and stellar systems, cosmology, and life in the universe. (Prerequisites: PHYS-211 or PHYS-211A or PHYS-207 or PHYS-216 or (MECE-102 and MECE-103 and MECE-205) or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Astrophysics
Choose one of the following:
    PHYS-370
   Stellar Astrophysics
This course presents concepts of stars and stellar systems at an intermediate level. Topics include the observed characteristics of stars, stellar atmospheres, stellar structure and evolution, interaction of stars with the interstellar medium, and the populations of stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and PHYS-220 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 .
    PHYS-371
   Galactic Astrophysics
This course describes the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way galaxy. It provides an overview of the major constituents of the Milky Way, their interactions, and the methods by which astronomers study them. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and PHYS-220 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
    PHYS-372
   Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology
This course provides a survey of the structure of the universe on the largest scales, including galaxies and clusters of galaxies. The course also provides an overview of the history of the universe from the Big Bang to the current day, and describes the observational evidence for our current values of the cosmological parameters. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and PHYS-220 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Experimental
Choose one of the following:
   IMGS-513
   Multi-wavelength Astronomical Imaging
This course surveys multi-wavelength astronomical observing techniques and instrumentation. Students will study the requirements, strengths, and limitations of telescopes, detectors, and instrumentation at major ground-based and space-based observatories spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to X-rays; learn how these facilities function; and gain an understanding of how to process and analyze the data they generate. Examples of facilities to be scrutinized include the largest ground-based observatories (e.g., Keck, Gemini, and the VLT); radio interferometers (e.g., the Very Large Array and the Atacama Large (sub)Millimeter Array); optical/IR space telescopes (e.g., the Spitzer, Hubble, and James Webb Space Telescopes); and X-ray space telescopes (e.g., Chandra and XMM-Newton). Students will plan and carry out a project involving archival multi-wavelength imaging data on a topic of their choice. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program must also complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
   IMGS-528
   Design and Fabrication of Solid State Cameras
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with hands-on experience in building a CCD camera. The course provides the basics of CCD operation including an overview, CCD clocking, analog output circuitry, cooling, and evaluation criteria. (Prerequisites: PHYS-111 or PHYS-211 or PHYS-207 or PHPS-106) Lab 6, Lecture 1 (Fall).
    PHYS-373
   Observational Astronomy
This course provides a practical, hands-on introduction to optical astronomy. Students will use the RIT Observatory's telescopes and CCD cameras to take images of celestial objects, reduce the data, and analyze the results. The course will emphasize the details of image processing required to remove instrumental effects from CCD images. (Prerequisites: PHYS-220 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lab 2, Lecture 2 (Spring).
Electives
Choose two of the following:
    IMGS-361
   Image Processing and Computer Vision I
This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of digital image processing. The student will be exposed to image capture and image formation methodologies, sampling and quantization concepts, statistical descriptors and enhancement techniques based upon the image histogram, point processing, neighborhood processing, and global processing techniques based upon kernel operations and discrete convolution as well as the frequency domain equivalents, treatment of noise, geometrical operations for scale and rotation, and grey-level resampling techniques. Emphasis is placed on applications and efficient algorithmic implementation using the student's programming language of choice. (Prerequisites: IMGS-180 and IMGS-261 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
    IMGS-362
   Image Processing & Computer Vision II
This course is considers the more advanced concepts of digital image processing. The topics include image reconstruction, noise sources and techniques for noise removal, information theory, image compression, video compression, wavelet transformations, frequency-domain based applications, morphological operations, and modern digital image watermarking and steganography algorithms. Emphasis is placed on applications and efficient algorithmic implementation using the student’s computer programming language of choice, technical presentation, and technical writing. (Prerequisites: IMGS-361 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
    IMGS-451
   Imaging Detectors
This course provides an overview of the underlying physical concepts, designs, and characteristics of detectors used to sense electromagnetic radiation having wavelengths ranging from as short as X-rays to as long as millimeter radiation. The basic physical concepts common to many standard detector arrays will be reviewed. Some specific examples of detectors to be discussed include photomultipliers, micro channel plates, hybridized infrared arrays, positive-intrinsic-negative (PIN) detectors, and superconductor-insulator-superconductor (SIS) mixers. The use of detectors in fields such as astronomy, high energy physics, medical imaging and digital imaging will be discussed. (Prerequisites: IMGS-251 and IMGS-341 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
    IMGS-513
   Multi-wavelength Astronomical Imaging
This course surveys multi-wavelength astronomical observing techniques and instrumentation. Students will study the requirements, strengths, and limitations of telescopes, detectors, and instrumentation at major ground-based and space-based observatories spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to X-rays; learn how these facilities function; and gain an understanding of how to process and analyze the data they generate. Examples of facilities to be scrutinized include the largest ground-based observatories (e.g., Keck, Gemini, and the VLT); radio interferometers (e.g., the Very Large Array and the Atacama Large (sub)Millimeter Array); optical/IR space telescopes (e.g., the Spitzer, Hubble, and James Webb Space Telescopes); and X-ray space telescopes (e.g., Chandra and XMM-Newton). Students will plan and carry out a project involving archival multi-wavelength imaging data on a topic of their choice. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program must also complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
    IMGS-528
   Design and Fabrication of Solid State Cameras
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with hands-on experience in building a CCD camera. The course provides the basics of CCD operation including an overview, CCD clocking, analog output circuitry, cooling, and evaluation criteria. (Prerequisites: PHYS-111 or PHYS-211 or PHYS-207 or PHPS-106) Lab 6, Lecture 1 (Fall).
   PHYS-370
   Stellar Astrophysics
This course presents concepts of stars and stellar systems at an intermediate level. Topics include the observed characteristics of stars, stellar atmospheres, stellar structure and evolution, interaction of stars with the interstellar medium, and the populations of stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and PHYS-220 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 .
    PHYS-371
   Galactic Astrophysics
This course describes the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way galaxy. It provides an overview of the major constituents of the Milky Way, their interactions, and the methods by which astronomers study them. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and PHYS-220 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
    PHYS-372
   Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology
This course provides a survey of the structure of the universe on the largest scales, including galaxies and clusters of galaxies. The course also provides an overview of the history of the universe from the Big Bang to the current day, and describes the observational evidence for our current values of the cosmological parameters. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and PHYS-220 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
    PHYS-373
   Observational Astronomy
This course provides a practical, hands-on introduction to optical astronomy. Students will use the RIT Observatory's telescopes and CCD cameras to take images of celestial objects, reduce the data, and analyze the results. The course will emphasize the details of image processing required to remove instrumental effects from CCD images. (Prerequisites: PHYS-220 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lab 2, Lecture 2 (Spring).
    PHYS-493
   Astrophysics Research
This course is a faculty-directed student project or research involving observational or theoretical work in astrophysics that could be considered of an original nature. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Research (Fall, Spring, Summer).

* At least two courses must be taken at the 300-level or higher.