Astronomy 122: Astronomy of Stars and Galaxies





Dmitri Pogosian
Phone: 780-492-2150
Office: CEB 254B
Office Hours: Tuesday 2pm - 4pm
(or email me to set up an appointment at another time)
email: pogosyan at

Course Website:
Lecture material and announcements will be posted on the course homepage:

Course Objective:
This course will provide an overview of the current understanding of stars, galaxies and cosmology. The emphasis will be on understanding the physical processes underlying astronomical phenomena.

High School Physics (Physics 30) and Math (Pure Math 30)

You have a choice of three options:
  • "Universe: Stars and Galaxies" by Roger A. Freedman & William J. Kaufmann. 3rd Edition with WebAssign
  • "Universe", by Roger A. Freedman & William J. Kaufmann, 8th Edition. with WebAssign
  • "Universe", eBook , by Roger A. Freedman & William J. Kaufmann, 8th Edition. WebAssign must be purchased additionaly at

Marking Scheme:
Homework (Approx. every week): 30%
Midterm Test (Fri Feb 12th, for alternative arrangements please send me an e-mail): 25%
Final Exam (date to be determined): 45%
A grade out of 100 will be calculated using the grade breakdown given above. In past years a letter grade has been assigned using the conversion between percentage and letter grade given below for rought guidance. The percentage ranges are subject to adjustment at the end of the course to fit the curve.

Description    Letter Grade     Grade Point Value    Percentage Range (rough guide only)
Excellent A+ 4.0 [95-100]
A 4.0 [90-95)
A- 3.7 [85-90)
Good B+ 3.3 [78-85)
B 3.0 [74-78)
B- 2.7 [70-74)
Satisfactory C+ 2.3 [67-70)
C 2.0 [64-67)
C- 1.7 [60-64)
Poor D+ 1.3 [55-60)
Minimal Pass D 1.0 [50-55)
Failure F 0.0 [0-50)

  • Homework will be done (predominantly, but perhaps not exclusively) with WebAssign at
    You must ensure that you have purchased WebAssign access (either with the textbook or separately) and create an account on WebAssign by January 13th ! To do that
    • Refer to the help page and in particular The Quick Start Guide.
    • We shall use "self-enrollment" method, where you create your account by yourself. The class key you should use is
      ualberta 2534 6780

    • Please use your University login name for WebAssign account if at all possible.
    • Let me know by e-mail immediately if you have any issues with registration.
    • WebAssign has a grace period until Jan 20th during which you can use it for free. So do not hesitate to register even if you are not certain you will stay in this class
  • Homework problems will be assigned approximately once a week. I expect around 10 assignments.
  • Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • Homework solutions will be posted on the web or WebAssign.
  • While it is expected that students will discuss the homework with each other, it should be remembered that outright copying is plagiarism (an offense which could lead to expulsion from the university).
  • Exact rules will be posted here before the tests.
  • A formula sheet will be provided on the midterm and final exams.
UofA Observing facilities:
Although this course will not have a direct observing component this year the students are encouraged to make use of the campus observatory, temprarily located on the roof of FAB building. The observatory is open every Thursday evening, follow the link for details of the programs and times.

Topics Covered

Astronomy and the Universe (Chapter 1):
Powers of 10; Angles; Small Angle Formula
Approx. 1 lecture

Light (Chapter 5):
The Nature of Light; Continuous Radiation; The Atom and Spectral Lines
Approx. 3 lectures

Optics and Telescopes (Chapter 6):
Types of Telescopes; Properties of Telescopes
Approx. 1 lecture

The Sun (Chapter 18):
Internal Structure; Solar Atmosphere; Solar Wind; Sunspots
Approx. 3 lectures

Nature of Stars (Chapter 19):
Positions, Magnitudes and Spectra; Fundamental Properties
Approx. 5 lectures

The Birth of Stars and Planets (Chapter 20):
Star Clusters; The Interstellar Medium; Star Formation
Approx. 2 lectures

Stellar Evolution: After the Main Sequence (Chapter 21):
Stellar Structure; Nuclear Reactions and Energy Transport; Stellar Evolution
Approx. 3 lectures

The Death of Stars (Chapter 22):
Late Stages of Stellar Evolution; White Dwarfs; Supernovae; Supernova Remnants
Approx. 3 lectures

Neutron Stars (Chapter 23):
Neutron Stars; Pulsars; X-ray Sources
1 lecture

Black Holes (Chapter 24):
Relativity; Black Holes
Approx. 2 lectures

The Milky Way Galaxy (Chapter 25):
Distances; Properties; Spiral Structure; Dark Matter; The Galactic Centre
Approx. 2 lectures

Galaxies (Chapter 26):
Properies of Galaxies; Distribution of Galaxies
Approx. 4 lectures
Active Galaxies and Quasars (Chapter 27):
Active Galaxies; Supermassive Black Holes; Gamma-ray Bursts
1 lecture

Cosmology (Chapter 28):
The Expanding Universe; Big Bang Model; The Accelerating Universe
Approx 3 lectures

The Early Universe (Chapter 29):
Inflation; Particle Physics; Nucleosynthesis
1 lecture