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Physics in Astronomy

  • 03/03/2021
  • 04/14/2021
  • 6 sessions
  • 03/03/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 03/10/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EST)
  • 03/24/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EDT)
  • 03/31/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EDT)
  • 04/07/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EDT)
  • 04/14/2021, 7:00 PM 9:00 PM (EDT)
  • Online
  • 8


Physics in Astronomy

A survey of key physics underlying astronomy. Familiarity with planets, the sun, and stars is helpful. Calculator needed.

March 3: Force and Motion

Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion. Newton’s Laws of motion and force, and gravitation. Orbits. Newton’s form of Kepler’s Laws. Deriving g from G.

March 10: Understanding Telescopes

Representations of light. Reflection and refraction. Lenses and telescopes. Three functions of telescopes. Design and features of different telescope types. Math of brightness, resolution, magnification. Purchasing considerations.

March 24: Light, Electromagnetic Waves, Spectra

General wave characteristics. Light and E/M waves. Color. Speed. Dispersion by prisms & diffraction gratings. Uniqueness of each E/M wave for research.

Spectra: demo, types, information obtained from. Color index of stars. Doppler shift. Cosmic Background Radiation of 2.725 K and relevance to Big Bang theory.

March 31: Star Energy, Temperature, Heat Flow

Details of the fusion reaction in stars. Nature of temperature: °C, °F, K. Mechanisms for heat transfer.

April 7:  Star Brightness, Distance, Class

Key star variables- M, m, L, T (°K). Distance via inverse square law. H-R diagram.. Wien’s and Stefan’s laws. Big Bang and 2.725 °K cosmic background temperature.

April 14: Relativity, Gravity Waves

Primer on special and general relativity. Evidences and technological adaptions of each. LIGO and gravity waves.

Location: Classes will be online using Zoom. Sign-in with an ID code given to you the weekend before the first day of class. Class recordings available during the course and for 4 weeks after.

Time: 7-9 PM, Wednesdays

Cost: $60, AAA Members only. Not a Member? Join for $35.

InstructorDavid Kiefer holds various Masters degrees, including a M.S. in astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia.  He has taught physics and astronomy at colleges in New York and New Jersey, and is presently a lecturer at Brooklyn College.  A member of the AAA, Mr. Kiefer observes at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and at upstate sites. He also teaches AAA Classes and is in the Class Coordination Committee.

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