NGC2207 and IC2163
The Home Page for Dr. Harkay's Astronomy Class
Updated 200

Hope everyone is doing great at Keene State and enjoying Astronomy!
Keep checking profnotes for class information!

 View the astro picture of the day at this link!

Jump directly to: [Web assignments] [Study session info] [Optional Supplementary questions] [Downloads] [Links] [Chat room and Forum] [Other KSC/Physics dept. links]

Web assignments for Section I:
Include with your homework you hand in for Exam I

Assignment #1: Link to Chandra X-Ray Observatory and browse the site. What kind of discoveries have already been made using Chandra? and Why is it important to have a satellite which enables astronomers to "see" in the X-ray portion of the spectrum?
Includes work from the Chandra Oberservatory, which astronaut Cady Coleman who visited us fall, 2000 launched.

Assignment #2: Point your browser to the GEMINI SITE and briefly summarize the importance of these ground-based telescopes and why they are unique. Then link to the sections on adaptive optics and infrared astronomy. Briefly, what is meant by adaptive optics and what are the advantages? Why is seeing in the infrared portion of the spectrum so important to astronomers, and what enables them to do so with GEMINI?

Assignment #3: Go to and click on the image gallery of Hubble photos. View some stars, supernovae, nebulae, and galaxies. Describe briefly what you see and why having a telescope in space provides superior images.

Assignment #4: Some history of women in astronomy. Link to and take a look at the list of notable women astronomers. Write a SHORT summary of the accomplishments of Henrietta Leavitt, Margaret Geller and any two others. The list spans a century. How has the role in astronomy changed over the past 90 years? Do you think a similar list for men might be longer?


Web assignments for Section II:

(Due with homework at Exam II)

Assignment #1: Click on "Best of SOHO on the sidebar at and describe the images you see. At which wavelengths do you think the details are observed? About how many sunspots are visible now?

Assignment #2: Can't do this one after 10/20/06--site is now password protected. Link to and go to student resources. You must click on the center image (with a galaxy). Next choose chapter 12. Click on animations, and observe stellar evoution for three stellar mass stars.
Click on "show lifetracks" to see the evolutionary tracks on the H-R diagram. Answer the following:
1. How does the evolution of a 15 solar mass star differ from that of a 5 solar mass star, including the rate at which they evolve?
2. What do evolutionary tracks actually represent?

Assignment#3: Now let's look at auroras! Visit , view some auroras and briefly describe their appearance. How are they related to solar activity? 

Assignment #4: Some of you have expressed interest in other worlds. Link to (a site called Extrasolar Visions). How many planets have been found so far orbiting other stars? Look at the masses and distances. What do they have in common? Do you see a pattern which might be related to the methods used to find them? Do you see any whch might be similar to Earth?

Assignment #5: Link to and go to "Falling into a Black Hole" and take the plunge!! What do you observe that surprises you? For the curious-scroll down to other options and take a look at diagrams and explanations of wormholes. Is space travel via wormholes possible?

Assignment #6: Look at images of REAL black holes at How do we "see" them if light cannot escape from these regions? Note: in order to view the images at the left, you must click on the links to them.

Web Assignments for Section III:

(part of homework due at Exam III)

Assignment #1: Go to the NASA site about Chandra at and read about how X-Ray data from Chandra can also be used to help determine the Hubble Constant and the fate of the universe. What is the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect, and how can it be used to provide a new, independent method for determining H?

Assignment #2: Go to the Astronomy Cafe at, pick your three (or more) favorite questions and write them down, along with the answers. You should be able to handle intermediate and advanced questions at this point.

Assignment #3: Visit . What test of the Big Bang Theory are available? What are the current limitations of our Big Bang model? How do we measure the rate of expansion? What theories lie "beyond the Big Bang"? (This information is found under the Universe tab. Click on the Mission tab to see the results of the WMAP mission and how much better they are than previous attempts at measuring anisotropy.)

Assignment #4: Go to and take a look at the latest news about our Mars exploration efforts. Report on the the news for this week. Next, click on "Ask an Astrobiologist". Select a question that interests you and report briefly on what you learned. If the above site is not working when you try it, go to and log onto the main page. you should get a welcome and you can visit Mars from there! (or anything else NASA is doing) Go to current Mars missions by typing Mars into the search box or click on the Mars image when it comes up. Plenty of news and pictures and student resources. 

Assignment #5: Go to and view the astro picture of the day. Interpret, briefly, what you see and relate it to what we've covered in astronomy 101.


Additional outside assignment (not mandatory): Go to the library and watch "A Whisper from Space" by Phillip Morrison. Its old, but such an elegant presentation of Wien's Law, Thermal Equilibrium, and the Cosmologically-redshifted 3-degree microwave background! If you are having trouble grasping any of these difficult concepts or just want to see one of the best astronomy flicks ever made, this is a must. Film majors take note--one of the best science documentaries ever made. I would like to show it in class, but would come up short on time. I have a collection of videos which can be borrowed, as well.

Study Sessions:
I have been running weekly study sessions after class on Monday.  I am currently looking for someone to do so for the remainder this semester and in the future. it is nice to offer a student's perspective. Please let me know if you know of a qualified individual who might be interested. .

Now available: All the questions for the course in word format (these are supplemental only--see syllabus to see if they are assigned)
Section One questions only
Section Two questions only
Section Three questions only
If you do not have word, you may view the Section 1 questions in HTML format
Section 2 and 3 HTML files coming soon!!!

You may download a copy of an astronomy CD which (older than the one currently in use but still pretty neat)has planetarium software by going to our Password Protected Page.

Also on this website for students are the syllabi for Astro 101 and 307

Download Dance of the Planets demo version in .ZIP format here

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Yahoo has some great astronomy links here

A great astronomy site may be found at

You may link to the web site for the publisher of our textbook by clicking on

If you have a key (password) you may also use the web study guide and tutor at

Lots of other Astronomy related links here!!!

Talk live to fellow students in our Astronomy Chatroom!

Or post and read messages in our Astronomy forum!

and go to discussion board.

Chapter reviews and other text resources at: http:/

The Bravenet forum below is temporarily disabled.


You may also link to the following KSC sites:

Keene State College Main Page   Physics Main Page

Courses:   Physics Courses   Astronomy Courses  
Majors/Minors:   Chem/Physics Major   Math/Physics Major  
   General Science Education Major   Physics Minor  
Faculty:   Faculty Main Page  
Assorted:   Potential Physics Major Letter Links Page Physics Phun Page
KSC Society of Physics Students

For current KSC students: (Intro Astronomy)-


Please note all content and layout of this website remains the intellectual property of the Keene State Physics Department and the designer of this site.

Visitors since March 14, 2000: