Fall 2018 Astronomy 30500 PR Course Description

ASTRONOMY 30500 PR                         METHODS IN ASTRONOMY                       City College Spring 2018


Monday and Wednesday 2:00 to 3:50 PM – Room MR 3

                Dr. Michael Lubell                               E-Mail: mlubell@ccny.cuny.edu                                             Office Hours

Mark W. Zemansky Professor of Physics           Telephone: 212-650-5610                                        Tu 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

                   Office: MR 325            Join me on LinkedIn & Follow me on Twitter @mslubell                  Th 4:00 – 5:00 PM



Designed to fulfill the 30000-level core science requirement, the course covers the fundamental physical laws that underlie the motions of heavenly bodies, including Newtonian mechanics and Einstein’s theory of relativity, planetary, stellar and galactic evolution; the methods, techniques and instruments used by modern astronomy, including the Hubble Space Telescope and planetary space probes.



  • To understand the physical principles that govern the origin and behavior of the universe and its elements, including the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, the planets, stars, galaxies and galactic clusters.
  • To develop an appreciation for the history of astronomy, beginning with ancient civilizations and ending in the modern era.
  • To gain an understanding of the experimental techniques that scientists use to investigate astronomical phenomena, including terrestrial and space-based optical telescopes, radio telescopes and space probes.
  • To develop an appreciation for the phenomena that make astronomy such an intriguing and dazzling science, including supernovas, pulsars and black holes.
  • To grasp the extraordinary nature of the body of knowledge scientists have developed in astronomy and cosmology and to appreciate how much still remains to be discovered and explained.


Demonstration of the mastery of objectives through verbal communication and written examinations.



The course will meet twice a week for 100 minutes each.  Most classes will consist of Power Point presentations, and a number will include videos that will make astronomy come alive.  Although the class size is very large, students are expected to participate by posing and answering questions interactively.  Homework will be assigned for each class.  Lectures will be posted on “Blackboard,” generally within 48 hours.



The required text is Explorations: An Introduction to Astronomy, Eighth Edition by Thomas T. Arny and Stephen E. Schneider (McGraw Hill, New York, 2017), digital version available by registering at McGraw Hill Connect: http://connect.mheducation.com/class/m-lubell-fall-2018-section-pr-tu-th-2-4.The cost is $87.50.



Total points will be based upon the following: Exam I 30 points, Exam II 30 points, Final Exam 60 points, augmented by bonus points for Class Participation and homework questions through McGraw Hill Connect. Exams I & II will have 30 multiple-choice questions each; the Final Exam will have 60 questions. On each exam half the questions will come directly from the assigned “Test Yourself” questions in the text. The remaining questions will stress information contained in the lectures. Two unexcused absences per third will be allowed without penalty.



Michael S. Lubell is the Mark W. Zemansky Professor of Physics at the City College of the City University of New York (CCNY) and the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute/PBS NewsHour Partnership on Science and Society. Dr. Lubell earned his B.A. (1963) from Columbia University and his M.S. (1965) and Ph.D. (1969) from Yale University. He was a member of the Yale faculty from 1971 to 1980 before joining the Physics Department at CCNY in 1980, where he was Department Chair from 1999 to 2006. From 1994 to 2016 he also served as Director of Public Affairs of the American Physical Society. He has held fellowships from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst. He has also held concurrent positions at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of Texas-Austin, the Santa Barbara (Kavli) Institute of Theoretical Physics and Universität Bielefeld. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and his biography appears in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering and Who’s Who in American Education.


Dr. Lubell's publications comprise more than 250 articles and abstracts in scientific journals and books covering subjects in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) physics, energy research and science policy. His use of polarized electrons to probe fundamental processes in atoms, nuclei and nucleons is internationally known. His science research interests now center on AMO studies of quantum chaos and simple molecular systems, energy efficiency and innovation. He has delivered more than 150 invited lectures and has appeared often on radio and TV in North America and Europe. He is one of the experts most frequently quoted by the national and scientific media on science policy issues and is credited as being one of the pioneers of science advocacy in Washington. He has served on many scientific advisory committees inside and outside government. Dr. Lubell has also been a newspaper columnist and a regular contributor to Roll Call and The Hill, two Capitol Hill newspapers. He has been active in local, state and national politics for more than forty years and has served as an advisor to members of Congress and state and national officials. His new book, Navigating the Maze: How Science and Technology Policy Shape America and the World is due out later this year.