hashtag: #nyuObsAst

NYU Observational Astronomy

This syllabus is for the Spring 2017 semester.

CAS Bulletin Description

PHYS-UA 13 Prerequisite: The Universe: Its Nature and History (PHYS-UA 7) or higher, or permission of the instructor for nonscience majors and minors; no prerequisite for science majors and minors or those who have satisfied the Core Natural Science I requirement. Lecture and laboratory. Offered every year. 4 points.
Introduction to the theory and practice of technical amateur astronomy. The approach is hands-on, with weekly evening laboratory/observing sessions. Topics include astronomical coordinate systems, optics, how to use a telescope, and the phenomena that can be seen in the urban night sky. Observing sessions involve the use of eight-inch telescopes.


name contact office
professor David W. Hogg ude.uyn@ggoh.divad 726 Broadway, 939
instructor Nitya Doddamane ude.uyn@dmaytin 726 Broadway, 943
admin William LePage ude.uyn@egapel Meyer 424

Aims and scope

This course will teach you how to observe the sky carefully with your naked eye, binoculars, and a small telescope. You will learn the basics of observable lunar and planetary properties, and the basics of astronomical coordinates and observations. The goal is for you to be able to understand and describe what you see in the sky at night, and to be able to use charts and coordinates to predict it.


There will be reading each week. You are expected to have completed the reading before coming to class, and also (sometimes) answered a few questions about that reading (which will be due at the beginning of class).


component percentage
labs 60
midterm exam 10
final exam 30
total 100

The “labs” number will be the mean of your lab scores, with the lowest score dropped.



Do the reading before each lecture. The following table is subject to change; please check back here frequently.

Monday lecture subjects reading
2017-01-23 view from a moving planet
2017-01-30 constellations and angles Kaler 4.1–4.8, Pasachoff 1–26, 32–38, 46–50
2017-02-06 celestial coordinates Kaler 1.6–1.10, 2.1–2.4, Pasachoff 495–498, Atlas 1–7
2017-02-13 the changing sky Kaler 3.1–3.13, Pasachoff 499
2017-02-20 President's Day holiday—no lecture or labs this week
2017-02-27 Moon Kaler 9.1–9.5, Pasachoff 348–359, Atlas 34–35
2017-03-06 planetary motions Kaler 11.1–11.7, Pasachoff 385–395, 402–403
2017-03-13 spring recess—no lecture or labs this week
2017-03-20 planets Kaler 11.17, 12.1, Pasachoff 418–454
2017-03-27 stars 1 Kaler 4.10, Pasachoff 144–149
2017-04-03 stars 2 Kaler 4.11–4.15, Pasachoff 194–204
2017-04-10 eclipses Kaler 10.6–10.12, Pasachoff 359–363, 474–487
2017-04-17 comets and meteors Kaler 12.1–12.5, Pasachoff 455–473
2017-04-24 optics and telescopes Kaler 13.8–13.16, 13.21–13.23, Pasachoff 503–508
2017-05-01 planets around other stars
2017-05-08 the history and future of the Universe
2017-05-15 take-home final exam due by 17:00 today at Prof Hogg's office.

This page is coded in valid XHTML with valid CSS. Prof Hogg loves and obeys standards!