University of Hawai˙i at Mänoa


Astronomy 426 (10:30 MWF)


 Foundations of Astronomy


Course Information and Policies


Paul H.I. Coleman

Fall Term 2016


Course Overview


This class is an introduction to the modern extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, i.e., the part of astrophysics that deals with the structure and evolution of the universe as a whole, and its major constituents: dark matter, dark energy, galaxies, quasars, large-scale structure, and intergalactic gas.  It will cover the subjects including: relativistic cosmological models and their parameters, extragalactic distance scale, cosmological tests, composition of the universe, dark matter, and dark energy; the hot big bang, cosmic nucleosynthesis, recombination, and cosmic microwave background; formation and evolution of structure in the universe; galaxy clusters, large-scale structure and its evolution; galaxies, their properties and fundamental correlations; formation and evolution of galaxies; star formation history of the universe; quasars and other active galactic nuclei, and their evolution; structure and evolution of the intergalactic medium; diffuse extragalactic backgrounds; the first stars, galaxies, and the reionization era.  Whew!   It follows old notes from classes taught at Caltech, Ohio State, Yale, and Virginia Tech.


Teaching Staff


This course will be given by Paul H.I. Coleman. Prof. Coleman received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985 while working for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. After a year as a visiting assistant professor at Virginia Tech, He accepted a position at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen, The Netherlands. He was a member of the scientific staff there for eight years.  Then he returned to the United States with a series of appointments at New Mexico Tech, Yale University, and the University of Puerto Rico, before accepting his current position with the Institute for Astronomy here in Hawai˙i.


Prof. Coleman's research interests are primarily in studying the large scale structure of the universe. He is an advocate for fractal mathematical methods in the analysis of astronomical objects.  He is also very interested in Hawaiian astronomy since he is a local boy and native Hawaiian.


Along with his office on the 4th floor of Watanabe, Prof. Coleman has an office (Room C206) in the Institute for Astronomy complex at 2680 Woodlawn Drive, right next to the new Mänoa public library.  This is a short ride on the faculty housing line of the Rainbow Shuttle – be warned!! It is the second stop on the way back towards campus.   His phone number is 956-7598, and his e-mail address is


Office Hours


Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – for about the hour before class and for about an hour after class in Prof. Coleman’s 4th floor Watanabe office. No appointment is needed. You are encouraged to come at these times to ask questions about the course, discuss larger intellectual, University, or personal issues, or just to have a general conversation and get to know each other. Prof. Coleman will also be happy to see students at his Institute for Astronomy office, but it is probably a good idea to make an appointment by phone or e-mail first.  This year, the graduate students assigned to all the Astronomy 110 lectures are pooling their office hours and you should feel free to go to any of their contact hours for assistance with any phase of the course.  The current schedule will be announced in class.




There is no required text for this course.   Prof. Coleman is busy looking into three possibilities and will try them out on you. This is the first time this course is being taught as a part of the larger Bachelor of Astrophysics degree which we are now offering.  For this first term, readings will come from everywhere!


Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology: An Introduction , by P. Schneider, Springer, ISBN-13: 978-3642069710


Introduction to Cosmology by B. Ryden. Addison Wesley, ISBN-13: 978-0805389128


Cosmology: The Science of the Universe by E. Harrison, Cambridge U. Press, ISBN-13: 978-0521661485


An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, B.W. Carroll and D.A. Ostlie, Addison-Wesley is a comprehensive (encyclopedic) general astrophysics text for the junior/senior level and is a good book if you are planning to continue on to one of our degrees in astronomy/astrophysics. Remember, astronomy is a constantly changing field and you might want to get the most up-to-date information as an easy reference – the latest version of Carroll and Ostlie fits that bill.


Relation of Tests to Lectures


Examination topics for this course will be taken from the lectures, reading assignments, and homework questions. There is more material in the readings than will be covered in the lectures, and some of the material presented in the lectures will not be found in the assigned reading. 


Mathematics and Physics


In this course, you will be expected to be familiar with math and physics at the level of the prerequisites for the course.  The professor will assume that you are familiar with phrases like “integrate the function” and “add up the vector sum of all the forces in the problem”.  If either of these two statements is alien to you, this course is probably over your head and you should seriously consider dropping the course.




The grading scheme will be the rather traditional – 2 midterms and a final augmented by homework and in-class discussions.  


Make-up tests will be offered only for serious emergencies. If this happens to you, you must speak with Professor Coleman as soon as you are able. Make-up tests, if permitted, may consist of essay-type questions. Permission to take make-up quizzes for athletics-related absences must be obtained in advance of the missed test; otherwise no make-up will be offered. Finally, one of the tests may be oral – giving you a chance to show off your verbal skills as well (and see what is in store for you if you continue on to a higher degree in astronomy or astrophysics)


Homework etc.


Homework will eventually be assigned approximately once a week, normally on Friday. The content of the homework is part of the examinable material of the course and some of the exam questions will probably be directly taken from the homework. The homework may require answers of a few sentences, simple calculations, or perhaps a drawing a graph. In very rare situations, you will be asked to derive something important. They are designed to help you to work with the ideas and concepts presented in the course. The homework will normally be due the next Wednesday. Homework papers will be collected at the beginning of the lecture on the day they are due. Late homework papers will not be accepted since the solutions will be discussed and published on the due date.  The average of the homework/class participation marks will count for some small but important percentage of the final grade – (10-15%).



Class lectures in powerpoint (pptx) and .pdf will usually be linked below after each lecture:



01aug22.ppt       02aug24.ppt         03aug26.ppt      

04aug29.ppt       05aug31.ppt


 Labor Day         07sep07.ppt         08sep09.ppt

 09sep12.ppt       10sep14.ppt         11sep16.ppt   

12sep19.ppt        13sep21.ppt         14sep23.ppt

15sep26.ppt        16sep28.ppt         17sep30.ppt


18oct03.ppt        19oct05.ppt          20oct07.ppt

21oct10.ppt        22oct12.ppt          23oct14.ppt

24oct17.ppt        25oct19.ppt          26oct21.ppt 

27oct24.ppt        28oct26.ppt          29oct28.ppt 


                           31nov02.ppt         32nov04.ppt 

33nov07.ppt      34nov09.ppt         veterans day

35nov14.ppt      36nov16.ppt         37nov18.ppt       

38nov21.ppt      39nov23.ppt         thanksgiving 2

40nov28.ppt      41nov30.ppt


43dec05.ppt      44dec07.ppt