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Professor Bailyn introduces the course and discusses the course material and requirements. The three major topics that the course will cover are (1) exoplanets--planets around stars other than the Sun, (2) black holes--stars whose gravitational pull is so strong that even their own light rays cannot escape, and (3) cosmology--the study of the Universe as a whole. Class proper begins with a discussion on planetary orbits. A brief history of astronomy is also given and its major contributors over the centuries are introduced: Ptolemy, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton.
In this course, Yale Prof. Charles Bailyn focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2007.