Astronomy 126: The Interstellar Medium

Prof. David Cohen

Fall 2016
Wednesday 1:15 to 4:15
Science Center 113




Our first seminar meeting is Wednesday, August 31.

David will bring the snack to the first seminar, and we'll set up a rotating schedule for a different student to bring snack each week after that.


Archive of old announcements.


posted Aug 23:

Read the seminar guidelines posted in the Class Information section on the right side of this page.

The assignment for our first seminar meeting is ready: week 1: Overview of the Galactic ISM [pdf]. The focus is the first chapter of Dyson and Williams. But you will also read a similar introduction to another, graduate-level, textbook. I've asked you to skim the ISM chapter of your Astro 16 textbook as well, and you'll use the textbook – as needed – for the short presentations you'll each give in order to help the seminar review some important physics topics that are relevant for our study of the ISM.

In addition to the reading and presentations, there are a small number of problems for you to solve. For some of them, your write-ups are due on Monday by 1:00 pm. The others you'll hand in at the beginning of seminar on Wednesday. The assignment also includes some questions and concepts for you to answer and think about in preparation for our discussion in seminar – I recommend you write down a few notes for these, but there's nothing to hand in. For the presentations, I'm asking you to meet briefly with me on Monday so we can review what you've put together. And finally, I'm also asking you to post one question about the reading by Tuesday night at 9:00 pm. All this information is detailed in the assignment pdf, linked above. The reading is available in Cornell Library (and I expect you all to have your own copies of Dyson and Williams by our first seminar meeting), but because many of you will not be on campus for a few days, I've made all the reading available on our seminar's Moodle page. Indicate your presentation topic choice there, too.

from the summer:

Each week's assignment and any associated reading will be posted here.

The first assignment will be posted no later than the Monday before classes start. And there will be something for you to hand in to me by the following Monday – two days before seminar meets.

Upcoming Events

Check the departmental colloquium schedule. (It is not yet fully updated for the fall; but it will be soon.) As members of the department, you are expected to attend these talks. Some of them may even mention the ISM.

There are telescope public viewings the second Tuesday of each month, at the Peter van de Kamp Observatory on the roof of the science center. The next one is on September 13, at 9 PM. Further information is available. I'd welcome help from any of you in running these events.


Class Information

Our primary textbook (and the only one I will require you to buy – you'll want to bring your copy to seminar each week; and it is small, paperback, and inexpensive) is Dyson and Williams's The Physics of the Interstellar Medium (2nd ed.) We will supplement it with a lot of other reading, all of which will be available in Cornell Library and/or online. The College bookstore will stock Dyson and Williams, but you might want to buy it online instead. It is paperback, and available both new and used. Make sure you get the 2nd edition (published in 1997).

posted Aug 23: This short document contains the guidelines for the class [pdf], including information about preparing for each week's seminar meeting.

posted Aug 28: This syllabus [pdf] will be updated, but gives an overview of the topics that we will cover.

posted Aug 28: Please read this information about accommodation [pdf] and let me know if there's anything you'd like to talk about – I'm happy to do whatever I can. Or talk to Leslie Hempling in the Deans' Office directly.

posted Aug 28: Everyone will bring snack to seminar two times during the semester. Consult the snack schedule and put your dates in your calendar.


Astronomy picture of the day

observatory website
department website

our seminar's Moodle page


This page is maintained by David Cohen
cohen -at- astro -dot- swarthmore -dot- edu

Last modified: August 28, 2016