Astronomy and Astrophysics

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
II - July 21–August 7, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
James H. Applegate

One year each of high school chemistry and physics are strongly recommended but not required. Because this class takes a quantitative approach, participants should be comfortable using their math skills to solve problems. Calculus is useful but not necessary.

“I loved learning about our universe, and the activity about going to Mars was super fun! I think I also learned a lot about group work and collaborating efficiently.”  – Jacqueline C. | Oakland Gardens, New York

Course Description

This course traces our knowledge of the universe from astronomy’s ancient roots to the modern study of extrasolar planetary systems, cosmology, and black holes. We begin with Newton’s laws of motion and universal gravitation, Kepler’s laws, orbital dynamics, and space travel. Next we take up the nature of light, the structure of matter, the emission and absorption of light by matter, and nuclear physics. We apply this knowledge to describe the properties of our sun and of the planets of our solar system, the properties and fate of stars in general, and the discovery of planets around other stars. Further topics include galaxies and the dark matter and black holes they contain, supernovae and the creation of chemical elements, and the expansion of the universe. We end with Einsteinian cosmology, the cosmic microwave background, dark energy, and the fate of the universe.


James H. Applegate

James H. Applegate is a professor of astronomy at Columbia University. He received his B.S. in astrophysics from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in physics from SUNY at Stony Brook. He was a Bantrell Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology and has served as chair of Columbia’s Astronomy Department. 

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.