Two new classes: asteroids and gravity!

I (finally) just watched "Guardians of the Galaxy" the other night, and this was inevitable. For more on Grote Reber, click the image. [Credit: NRAO]

It’s not terribly relevant to today’s post, but I (finally) just watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” the other night, and this was inevitable. For more on Grote Reber, click the image. [Credit: NRAO]

I’m pleased to announce the first two CosmoAcademy classes for 2015:

with two more to be announced very soon, so stay tuned! For more on these two offerings, please click on the links or scroll down. And please help spread the word to your friends!

All our classes are small — no more than eight students — and emphasize the expertise of the teachers to give our students the best experience possible. We don’t require any particular background except curiosity about astronomy and astrophysics (and a little high school-level algebra).

Asteroids! Observations, Meteorites, Missions

The asteroid Vesta [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA]

The asteroid Vesta [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA]

This year, the DAWN mission will visit Ceres, the largest asteroid in the Solar System, as a follow-up to its earlier flyby of Vesta (which is in the image accompanying this post). In this course, we’ll learn about the small bodies in our solar system, focusing on asteroids.  We’ll cover optical, infrared, and radar techniques for characterizing asteroids, both near-Earth and in the main asteroid belt, and also learn about meteorites.  We’ll also discuss recent spacecraft missions to asteroids, and look ahead to future missions. We’ll use some high school-level algebra, and if you know how to use Excel or a programming language, that will be helpful, but not a prerequisite. Bonus: The class includes a tour of the Southwest Meteorite Collection at the University of Arizona.  All participants will receive an Arecibo Observatory postcard on completion of the class.

Class status: Open for enrollment!

InstructorAlessondra Springmann

Meeting times: Tuesdays and Sundays, 7:00-8:00 PM US Eastern time (4:00-5:00 PM US Pacific time)

Course dates:

  1. Tuesday, January 20
  2. Sunday, January 25
  3. Tuesday, January 27
  4. Sunday, February 1

Enroll today!

CQX201: Gravity and Orbits

Orbits around the Milky Way’s central black hole, as obtained using the Keck telescope in Hawaii. [Credit: Keck/UCLA Galactic Center Group]

Gravity is the force of nature responsible for the motion of planets around the Sun, the waltz of binary stars, and the chain binding stars to black holes. This class introduces Newtonian gravity, the description of the force of attraction between two masses, that describes orbits from satellites to stars. Along the way, we’ll learn about Kepler’s three laws and their generalization beyond the Solar System, how the well-understood law of gravity helps us find exoplanets, and the way we can determine the masses of black holes even when we can’t see those objects directly. Finally, we’ll touch on the limits of Newtonian gravity and briefly introduce the modifications made to orbits from general relativity. This is basic introduction to the entire field known as celestial mechanics, which is the foundation of astrophysics. We’ll need a little more math than in the average CosmoAcademy class, but nothing beyond high school algebra and geometry.

Class status: Open for enrollment in two sections! US Afternoon section and US evening section

Instructor: Matthew R. Francis

Meeting times: Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00 PM US Eastern time (10:00-11:00 AM US Pacific time) and 9:00-10:00 PM US Eastern time (6:00-7:00 PM US Pacific time)

Course dates:

  1. Monday, February 2
  2. Wednesday, February 4
  3. Monday, February 9
  4. Wednesday, February 11

Enroll today! Afternoon section or evening section


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