This is an introductory course in astronomy focusing on planets in our Solar System, and around other stars (exoplanets). First we review the formation, evolution and properties of the Solar system. Following an introduction to stars, we then discuss the exciting new field of exoplanets; discovery methods, earth-like planets, and extraterrestrial life. Core values of the course are quantitative analysis and hands-on experience, including telescopic observations. This STN course is designed for the non-science major and has no prerequisites past high school algebra and geometry. See www.astro.princeton.edu/planets for important changes
Fall 2016 Undergraduate Courses
Modeling and Observing the Universe: Research Methods in Astrophysics
How do we observe and model the universe? We discuss the wide range of observational tools available to the modern astronomer: from space-based gamma ray telescopes, to globe-spanning radio interferometry, to optical telescopes and particle detectors. We review basic statistics and introduce students to techniques used in analysis and interpretation of modern data sets containing millions of galaxies, quasars and stars, as well as the numerical methods used by theoretical astrophysicists to model these data. The course is problem-set-based and aims to provide students with tools needed for independent research in astrophysics.
Instructors: Jenny E. Greene, Michael Abram Strauss
Life in the Universe
This course introduces students to a new field, Astrobiology, where scientists trained in biology, chemistry, astronomy and geology combine their skills to discover life's origins and to seek extraterrestrial life. Topics include: the origin of life on Earth; the prospects of life on Mars, Europa, Enceladus and extra-solar planets. Students will also compete in class to select landing sites and payloads for the next Mars mission. 255A is the core course for the Planets and Life certificate.
Instructors: Christopher F. Chyba, Michael H. Hecht, A. James Link, Tullis C. Onstott, Edwin Lewis Turner