Introduction to Astronomy

University of Szeged, Faculty of Sciences
4 semesters (for students of astronomy, facultative for others)

Lecturer: dr. Szatmáry, Károly assoc. prof., e-mail:
Dept. of Experimental Physics and Astronomical Observatory,
Béke-épület I.em. 42. Tel.: 54-4666
Practice: Szabó, Gyula PhD student, Tel.: 54-4668,

1st semester (3 hours lecture + 2 hours practice weekly)
Solar system, space research
1. Origin and short history of astronomy. Astronomy and other sciences.
    Fields of astronomy. Main methods of studies. Important steps in space research.
2. Discovery of the solar system. Main properties, structure. Modern instruments in
    space and on the ground.
3. The Sun: global character, structure, energy production, energy transfer. Magnetic
    fields. Solar activity: sunspots, faculae, protuberances, flares, CMEs. SOHO etc.
4. Earth-like planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars. Origin of satellites.
5. Giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Atmospheres and inner structure.
6. Rings and satellite systems. Planetology.
7. Minor planets. Asteroid belt, distributions, families, forms, types. Troians,
8. Comets, meteors, interplanetary matter, zodiacal light. Outer parts: Kuiper-belt,
9. Cosmic impacts, craters. PHAs, NEOs. Spaceguard. Evolutionary effects.
10. Origin of solar system.
11. Exobiology, life in the solar system.
12. Exoplanets: methods of discovery, results.

2nd semester (3 hours lecture + 2 hours practice weekly)
Spherical astronomy, astrometry, celestial mechanics, instruments
1. Celestial sphere. Magnitude scale. Constellations. Maps, charts. Criticism of
2. Coordinate systems (horizontal, equatorial I., II., ecliptical, galactic).
3. Transformations between coordinate systems. Fundamental astrometry.
    Hipparcos, GAIA.
4. Motions of the Sun and Moon. Eclipses and transits.
5. Definition of orbital elements. Time units (day, month, year). Sidereal time, solar
    time, UT, UTC. Polar motions, rotation of the Earth.
6. Calendar, Julian Date. Geographical position determination, GPS, Galileo.
7. Refraction, aberration, parallax, precession, nutation. Proper motion of the stars.
    Evidence for rotation and orbital motion of the Earth.
8. Changes of orbital elements. Glacial periods, ice-ages, Milankovic-Bacsák theory.
    Climatic changes.
9. Celestial mechanics. N-body problem. Two-body problem, planetary orbits.
10. Three-body problem, libration points. Stability of Troians. Transit orbits between
      planets. Paradox in celestial mechanics. Orbits of satellites. Orbit of exoplanets.
11. Astronomical telescopes, instruments. Optical systems, aberrations. Observatories,
      giant telescopes. VLBI. Space telescopes in all wavelengths (gamma, X, UV, vis.,
      IR, radio).
12. Photometry, spectroscopy, astrometry. Detectors, PMT, CCD. Digital image

3rd semester (2 hours lecture + 2 hours practice weekly)
1. Basic parameters of the stars (mass, radius, surface temperature, luminosity).
2. Basic parameters of the stars (absolute and apparent magnitudes, chemical
    composition, age, magnetic field, rotation, stellar wind).
3. Stellar spectra (continuum and spectral lines, emission, absorption).
4. Vogt-Russell theorem. Stellar models.
5. Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.
6. Evolution of stars: birth, life cycle, final stages.
7. Nuclear reactions in stars, creation of chemical elements.
8. Double and binary stars (visual, astrometric, spectroscopic, eclipsing binaries).
9. Variable stars (pulsating, eclipsing, spotted, eruptive, cataclysmic variables).
10. Analysis of the light curves. Spectral characteristics.
11. Period determination (O-C diagram, Fourier-analysis, wavelet, time-frequency
12. Solar physics. Solar activity and oscillations.

4th semester (2 hours lecture + 2 hours practice weekly)
Galactic astronomy, cosmology
1. Interstellar matter. Gas-, dust- and molecular clouds. Star formation.
2. Star clusters (associations, globular and open clusters).
3. Structure of the Milky Way (nucleus, bulge, disk, halo, corona, spiral pattern).
4. Galaxies, clusters of galaxies. Active Galactic Nuclei, quasars.
5. Interaction between galaxies. Simulations.
6. Redshift of spectral lines, Hubble-law, distance determination.
7. Observational pieces of evidence of hot Universe model (CMB, H-He ratio).
8. Evolution of the Universe, models, cosmology.
9. Gravitational waves (origin, detectors).
10. Gravitational lenses (micro- and macrolensing). Problem of dark matter.
11. Astronomical implications of the theory of general relativity.
12. Neutrino astronomy, neutrino detectors.