AST 111: Origins of the Solar System (Fall 2016)

Professor: Alice Quillen, B+L424, 275-9625
aquillen at

Natural color view of Saturn's rings made from images captured by Cassini July 21, 2004. Credit NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
TIs: Josh Rosser, Saad Usmani
Tuesday and Thursdays 11:05am-12:20 in Dewey 2110E
Labs and Workshops:
Thursday 6:15-8:55pm and Friday 2:00-4:40pm in Bausch and Lomb 203H

AST 111 Course Information

MEES data





Lecture 1a,  Lecture 1b
Solar system overview, Celestial sphere, Orbital elements
Homework 1,   solutions
due Friday 6pm on Sept 9
The Celestial Sphere
Reading: Chap 1 of Lissauer and de Pater (LdP)
Lecture 2a,  Lecture 2b
Kepler's laws as following from Newton's laws, Radial velocity exo-planet searchs, orbital resonances, Keplerian orbits, escape velocity, transfer orbits
Short assignment,   Homework 2,   solutions
Homework 2 is due Friday 6pm on Sept 23, but the short assignment is due Friday 6pm on Sept 16.
Astrometry and Photometry
Reading: Chap 2 of LdP
Lecture 3a,  Lecture 3b
Tidal Forces, Lagrange Points, Horseshoe and Tadpole orbits, Radiation forces, Poynting Robertson Drag, Gas Drag, Hill radius, synchronous orbits
Homework 3,   solutions
due Friday Sept 30
Reading: finish Chap 2 of LdP
Lecture 4a,  Lecture 4b
Astronomical magnitudes, Electromagnetic spectrum, Black bodies, Telescopes, diffraction limit, Magnification, Focal length, Poisson statistics and sky background
Homework 4,   solutions
due Friday Oct 7
Reading: About Telescopes from Kutner's book. The book is on reserve and I uploaded a set of notes from it onto blackboard.
Lecture 5
Energy Balance and Transport. Albedo. Equilibrium temperature. Diffusive transport. Heat conduction. Radiative energy transport. Thermal inertia. Greenhouse effect.
Homework 5,   solutions
due Friday Oct 14
Reading: LdP, On energy transport: Chap 4.
Midterm Exam Tuesday Oct 25 Exam1, Solutions Practice exam/Review, Solutions
Lecture 6
Hydrostatic equilibrium. Adiabatic index. Convective energy transport. Dry lapse rate. Atmospheric structure. Atmospheric escape.
Homework 6,   solutions
due Friday Nov 4
Reading: LdP, On atmospheric escape: Section 5.7, On thermodynamics and hydrostatic equilibrium: Sections 3.1,3.2
Lecture 7a,  Lecture 7b
Atmospheres and Meteorology. Cloud formation and precipitation. Geostrophic and cyclostrophic flows. Hadley cells, Thermal tides, Condensation flows. Wet and dry adiabatic lapse rates.
Homework 7,   solutions
due Friday Nov 11
Reading: Chap 5 of LdP
Lecture 8a,  Lecture 8b
Meteorites, Isotopic composition, Radioactive Dating, Asteroids
Homework 8,   solutions
due Friday Nov 18
Reading: Chap 11,12 of LdP
On Climate of Proxima B:
Ribas et al., Turbet et al., Barnes et al., Meadows et al.
Lecture 9
The 'Nice' model
Project assignment   Reading: Chap 15 of LdP
Lecture 10 
Planetary Surfaces, Craters: formation and history of bombardment, Weathering and Erosional Processes, Plate tectonics
Reading: Chap 6 of LdP
Midterm Exam Tuesday Dec 13 Exam Review problems