WVU Center for Astrophysics

ASTR 703 – Galactic Astronomy – Spring 2017

Instructor: Dr. D.J. Pisano

Contact details: DJPisano at mail dot wvu dot edu, 304-293-4886

Class times: M/W 1530-1645 in G06 White Hall

Office hours: I am available anytime my door is open in G65 White Hall (typically from 10am-6pm) or by appointment.

Syllabus: here


  • I will be in Australia from Jan. 4-17. Instead of making up the first two classes, I will assign you readings and worksheets to do plus some homework based on these assignments. All class materials are available on this webpage.


  • Review these homework tips to avoid losing points unnecessarily on assignments.

Lecture Slides:

  • Lecture notes for the first week of class (to be reviewed by Jan. 18)

Useful Links:

Class Schedule:

This schedule is subject to change at the whim of the professor.

Jan. 9, 11: Course Overview and Galaxy Classification (SG 1.3, BM 4.1). The distance ladder, magnitudes, colors, stellar properties (SG 1,2,4,5,8; BM 2,3,5,7; BT 1)

Jan 16: MLK Day, University holiday

Jan. 18, 23: Luminosity Functions, Mass Functions, Malmquist Bias

Jan. 25, 30: The Milky Way: properties, morphology, composition, kinematics

Feb. 1, 6, 8, 13, 15: Asymmetric drift, Two-body relaxation, Weak encounters, Virial Theorem, Collisional Boltzmann Equation

Feb. 20, 22, 27: Structure and kinematics of spiral galaxies (end of midterm topics)

Mar. 6, 8: Spring Break

Mar. 1, 13, 15: Structure and kinematics of elliptical galaxies

Mar. 17: Midterm Exam due

Mar. 20, 22, 27: Galaxy interactions, Active Galactic Nuclei, and Large Scale Structure

Mar. 29, Apr. 3: The interstellar medium in different galaxies

Apr. 5, 10, 12: Measuring the star formation rate and history in galaxies

Apr. 17, 19, 24, 26: Observing distant galaxies, the theory and observations of galaxy formation and evolution

Wednesday, May 3: Final Exam due at 1:00 pm

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change any parts of the syllabus/class schedule at any time during the semester. Any changes will be announced in class and on the course website.

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