Astronomy 7939
Spring Semester 2016
Classroom: Room 3 Bryant Space Science Center
Schedule: Tuesday (11:45am, 12:50), Thursday (11:45pm)

Prof. Rafael Guzman
Office: 214 Bryant Space Science Center
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 3:00-4:30pm
Phone: 352-294-1878

Course Content:

This course is a survey of the changes in our cosmological worldview over the last century with an emphasis on the discoveries of the last three decades. Since cosmology involves observations of objects very far away (therefore, very faint) advancement in our understanding of the cosmos has been very slow due to limits in our technology. This has changed dramatically in the last few years with the construction of large telescopes and the launch of space-based observatories. This course is meant to be an introduction to this new era of discoveries. In particular the student will become familiar with the observable properties of galaxies in the universe -specially at high redshift- and learn how these can be used to improve our physical understanding of cosmology.

The specific goals of this course are:

This course is intended for graduate students in astronomy, or in other physical sciences with sufficient knowledge of astronomy.

Course Organization:

Most lectures in this course will be delivered electronically, although many concepts will be expanded, clarified, or demonstrated on the blackboard. Students will be expected to participate by leading discussion on several topics related to this class.

In addition, we will spend a significant amount of time doing several activities, including oral presentations by the students, discussions of the various projects, and simple back-of-the-envelope calculations related to some of the ideas discussed in class.

Detailed information about these activities (and their due dates) are at this web site:

The class projects will consist of:

The proposals will consist of:

Students will be working on these class projects and proposals in pairs.

The topic for the seminar will be:

Students will be working on this oral presentation individually.

The poster/paper will consist of:

Students will be working on this research project in groups.


There will be no exams in this course. Grades will be given to the following activities:

Please note that, under exceptional circumstances, I may decide to change this grading scheme and introduce a final exam (e.g., if the results from the activities mentioned above are considered to be unsatisfactory). In this case, the final exam will consist of one essay type question and one mathematical excercise. The exam will be worth up to a maximum of 50 points. All the other activities will be worth up to the remaining 50 points.

In addition, up to an extra 10 points can be added to the final score as a result of the students participation in this class. This additional points may improve the final letter grade by as much as to two steps in the scale below.

A final letter grade will be assigned according to the following absolute scale:

                   A   : 94.0 - 100.0 points
		   A-  : 87.0 -  93.9 points 
		   B+  : 83.0 -  86.9 points
                   B   : 79.0 -  82.9 points
		   B-  : 75.0 -  78.9 points 
                   C+  : 71.0 -  74.9 points
                   C   : 67.0 -  70.0 points
		   C-  : 63.0 -  66.9 points
                   D+  : 59.0 -  62.9 points
                   D   : 55.0 -  58.9 points
		   D-  : 50.0 -  54.9 points
                   E   :  0.0 -  49.9 points
Students with S/U grades need to obtain at least a C in order to pass.

Reference Textbooks:

Academic Honesty:

You are all encourage to discuss work on the various activities among yourselves or with other members of the department. However, final results must be based on your own work, either individually or in pairs (i.e. don't copy someone else's project). It is degrading to impose draconian security measures to enforce honesty. Instead, we will use the honor system in this course and allow each of you to uphold your personal standards of conduct.


If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please see me as soon as possible. And please request that the Counselor for Students with Disabilities send a letter verifying your disability.