ASTR 241: Week-by-week Log

1. Solar System Overview

The first week introduced key elements of the Solar System, including the Sun, terrestrial and giant planets, smaller bodies, and the solar environment. Planetary motion was briefly described, but Kepler's laws were deferred until week 4.

Slides: Solar System Overview, 27 August 2013.

Assignment: Problem Set #1: Due 5 September 2013.

2. Planetary Atmospheres

This week covered thermal equilibrium of planets, thermal escape of atmosphere, hydrostatic equilibrium, and temperature structure of planetary atmospheres.

Assignment: Problem Set #2: Due 12 September 2013.

3. Terrestrial Planets

This week covered the internal structure and processes in terrestrial planets. Topics included evidence for differentiation, gravitational energy release, radiogenetic heating, geothermal flux, mantle convection and consequences, and impacts.

Slides: Terrestrial Planets. II, 12 September 2013.

Blackboard: Rotational FlatteningFlattening & Internal Structure.

Assignment: Problem Set #3: Due 19 September 2013.

Links: Magnetization of the Sea Floor and Seafloor Spreading.

4. Orbital Motion

This week covered Kepler's Laws and their derivation from Newtonian mechanics, the general 2-body problem, and bound vs. unbound orbits.

Blackboard: Kepler's EquationSolving Kepler's EquationConservation of Angular MomentumOne-body ⇒ Harmonic OscillatorOrbits & Conic Sections.

Assignment: Problem Set #4: Due 26 September 2013.

5. Earth, Moon, Sun

The Earth-Moon system. Tidal force. Response of idealized and real oceans. Tidal friction. Synchronous rotation. Evolution of the Moon's orbit. Precession of Moon's orbit.

Blackboard: TidesTidal ResponseTidal TorquesPrecession of Moon's OrbitPrecession (cont.).

Assignment: Problem Set #5: Due 10 October 2013.

Links: TideTidal Wave!Precession of the Earth-Moon system.

6. Review #1

Handout: Review Questions #1.

7. Problem-solving

Handout: Discussion Problems.

8. Giant Planets & Satellites

Slides: Giant Planets. I, 15 October 2013, Giant Planets. II, 17 October 2013.

Blackboard: Giant Planets: Internal StructureHydrogen: Phase DiagramGas Sphere: A Toy ModelRotation & FlatteningRoche RadiusHill RadiusGravity of Oblate PlanetOrbits Around Oblate PlanetDriven Harmonic OscillatorShapes of Satellites.

Assignment: Problem Set #6: Due 24 October 2013.

9. Rings & Comets

Slides: Rings, 22 October 2013, Comets, 24 October 2013.

Blackboard: OrbitsResonances with MimasKeeler Gap StructureOutgassing RatesComet LifetimesPluto & CharonMutual Eclipses.

Assignment: Problem Set #7: Due 31 October 2013.

10. Asteroids &NEOs

Slides: Asteroids, 29 October 2013, Near-Earth Objects, 31 October 2013.

Blackboard: Asteroid ShapeLagrange PointsImpact PhysicsNEO PopulationsSources of NEAsNon-gravitational Forces.

Assignment: Problem Set #8: Due 6 October 2013.

11. Solar System Formation

Slides: Other Planetary Systems, 5 November 2013, Solar System Formation, 7 November 2013.

Blackboard: Planets, Brown Dwarfs, StarsRadial Velocity MethodEccentricity EffectsTransit MethodStar Formation: ContextVirial TheoremCollapseProto-Planetary DiskDust Grains to Proto-PlanetsGiant Planet FormationLate Stages.

12. Review #2

Handout: Review Questions #2.

13. Solar Interior. I

Blackboard: Homogenious ModelGas SpheresWaves & ParticlesBohr Model of HydrogenPhysical State in SunCouloumb BarrierTunneling to the RescueParticles & Conservation LawsCore Stability.

Assignment: Problem Set #9: Due 3 December, 2013.

14. Solar Interior. II

Blackboard: Energy TransportOpacityRadiative ZoneRadiative Energy TransportEstimating LsunConvective TransportStructure of SunTests.

15. Space Weather

Slides: Space Weather. I, 3 December 2013, Space Weather. II, 5 December 2013.

Blackboard: Space WeatherSolar AtmosphereHydrostatic EquilibriumCorona & Solar WindMagnetic FieldsLorentz ForceSolar Magnetic CycleSunspotsFlaresAlfven WavesAlfven RadiusPlanetary Magnetospheres.

16. Review #3

Handout: Review Questions #3.

Joshua E. Barnes      (barnes at
Updated: 9 December 2013
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