Courses

Graduate Courses

Note that further info about courses is on our PhD program page. Also note that the timeline of the courses can be in flux, but we work to be sure that all students can take the coursework in a timely manner. So if a course description below indicates a frequency, it is still wise to check UCF’s course schedule!

AST 5145 Asteroids Comets Meteors

This course covers the physical, compositional, and structural properties of solar system small bodies, and their interrelationships. Usually offered in even falls. Usually taught by Prof. Campins.

AST 5151 Physics of Planetary Processes

This course covers several specific electrodynamics and quantum mechanics topics that are directly related to planetary science. Usually offered in even falls. Usually taught by Prof. Bennett.

AST 5154 Advanced Planetary Geophysics

This course covers the physics of planetary evolution, of planetary interiors, and of planetary surface processes. Usually offered in odd springs. Usually taught by Prof. Britt or Prof. Donaldson Hanna.

AST 6165 Planetary Atmospheres

(Site link) This course covers the basics of atmospheric physics and chemistry, and applies it to planets (including Earth) and satellites in our solar system as well as those orbiting other stars. Usually offered in even springs. Usually taught by Prof. Harrington or Prof. Ramirez.

AST 5263 Advanced Observational Astronomy

This course covers experimental designs and experimental techniques, spherical astronomy, and the physics of telescopes and of common astronomical detectors. Usually offered in even springs. Usually taught by Prof. Fernandez or Prof. Donaldson Hanna.

AST 5334 Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs

This course covers the physics of substellar-mass objects, their formation, evolution, dynamics, detection, and environments. Offered occasionally. Usually taught by Prof. Karalidi.

AST 5765 Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis

(Site link) This course covers concepts on advanced astronomical data formation and acquisition, detector physics, measurement extraction, error analysis, modeling, computer programming, statistics, interpretation, and written and oral presentation of results. Usually offered every fall. Usually taught by Prof. Harrington or Prof. Fernandez.

AST 5937 Special Topics: Astrobiology

This course covers the physics, chemistry, and biology of life on Earth as they relate to astrophysical concepts. Offered occasionally. Usually taught by Prof. Bennett.

AST 6112 Origin and Evolution of Planetary Systems

This course covers the observations and properties of extrasolar planets and circumstellar disks through physics of disk evolution and planet formation. It also covers the dynamical evolution of planetary systems. Usually offered in odd springs. Usually taught by Prof. Colwell.

AST 6156 Current Topics in Planetary Science

A seminar style course, but with significant student participation. The topic is usually a current NASA mission and its destination, or a deep-dive into a particular technological, scientific, and engineering aspect of space exploration. The iterations of this course have been: • Spring 2014, Pluto, Charon, and the New Horizons mission. • Fall 2015, Phobos, Deimos, and possible missions. • Spring 2017, in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) in space. • Spring 2018, sample return from a near-Earth asteroid with OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa-2. • Spring 2020, the economic geology of lunar and asteroid resources. • Spring 2021, science in planetary radar, in Earth’s atmosphere, and in astrophysics at Arecibo Observatory. Offered occasionally, and can be repeated for credit. Taught by several faculty.

AST 6938 Special Topics

A seminar style course, but with significant student participation. The topic is usually a current NASA mission and its destination, or a deep-dive into a particular subset of planetary science. The iterations of this course have been: • Spring 2013, Vesta, Mercury, the Dawn mission, and the MESSENGER mission. • Spring 2021, physics of comets, asteroids, and dust. Offered occasionally, and can be repeated for credit. Taught by several faculty.

Undergraduate Courses

AST 2002 Astronomy

General education, covers all of astronomy and planetary sciences at the introductory level. This course satisfies one of the GEP requirements. Offered every fall and every spring. Taught by many faculty.

AST 2037 Life in the Universe

Introductory material on astrobiology. Thought provoking journey through solar system environments and extrasolar planets to establish the probability of life on other planets in our solar system and beyond. Offered occasionally.

AST 3110 – Solar System Astronomy

Interdisciplinary approach to the dynamics of the Solar System through application of Physics, Atmospheric Science, Chemistry and Geology. Usually offered in even falls. Usually taught by Prof. Dove or Prof. Jerousek.

AST 3114 Space Weather in the Solar System

How the solar weather forms and solar weather effects on the solar system, including geomagnetic storms, aurorae, and impacts to electronics/GPS systems. Usually offered in the fall.

AST 3211 Stellar Astrophysics

The physics and dynamics of stars, including star formation and stellar formation. Usually offered even springs. Usually taught by Prof. Cooney or Prof. Jerousek.

AST 3402 Galaxies and Cosmology

Study of the different types of galaxies, their evolution, their relationship to active galaxies and quasars, and the evolution of the Universe. Usually offered odd falls. Usually taught by Prof. Cooney.

AST 4142 Asteroids Comets and Meteorites

Asteroids, comets, and meteorites and their role in the origin and evolution of our solar system. Usualy offered even falls. Usually taught by Prof. Campins.

AST 4152 Planetary Geophysics

Physics of planetary evolution, planetary interiors, and planetary surface processes. Usually offered odd springs. Usually taught by Prof. Britt or Prof. Donaldson Hanna.

AST 4700 Experimental Methods in Astronomy

This course covers important concepts regarding the actual planning of telescopic experiments in astronomy. Students gain a more detailed and more elaborate understanding of how our rotating platform of Earth constrains what we can see in the Universe at any given time. Students also learn the physics behind telescopes, detectors, and other astronomical equipment. Usually offered even springs. Usually taught by Prof. Fernández or Dr. Schambeau.

AST 4762 Astronomical Data Analysis

This course covers astronomical data formation and acquisition, detector physics, measurement extraction, error analysis, modeling, computer programming, statistics, interpretation, and written and oral presentation of results. Offered approximately every fall.  It meets with AST 5765 but has a project and homework appropriate for the undergraduate level. Offered every fall. Usually taught by Prof. Harrington. Satisfies a lab requirement, by petition. PREREQ: Ability to program a computer. Students unprepared in programming often find this course overwhelming! PHZ 3150 was developed to satisfy this requirement. See the web site, above, for more. Usually offered every fall. Usually taught by Prof. Harrington or Prof. Fernandez.

MET 2104 The Earth’s Climate

An introduction to the history, physics, and dynamics of the Earth’s climate. There are no prerequisites for this course. Offered occasionally. Usually taught by Prof. Britt.

PHZ 3150 Introduction to Numerical Computing

To be a STEM researcher, you have to be able to program a computer to process and simulate data.  This introduction for first-time programmers uses Python, the most popular free language used for data analysis in the physical sciences.  Students learn on their own computers, so they will have access to programming after the course is over.  Topics also include the Unix shell, shell scripting, revision control, planning and debugging, object-oriented programming, and a selection of numerical topics including Monte Carlo simulation, integration and differentiation, interpolation, and 2D and 3D visualization. Satisfies the programming prerequisite for AST 4762/5765. Taught by Prof. Harrington.

Forthcoming course schedule

Here is the forthcoming schedule as we expect it to happen, as of July 2021. However there are several things to note: (i) We may have to change the schedule depending on student demand and on faculty availability. (ii) We may have to change the instructor for a given course. (iii) Undergrads generally take 2000-, 3000-, and 4000-level courses; they can take 5000-level courses if they have the right preparation, but cannot take 6000-level without doing a lot of paperwork. (iv) Graduate students generally only take 5000- and 6000-level courses.

  • Fall 2021 – an odd-numbered fall
    • AST 2002 and 2002H – Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course), taught by several faculty.
    • AST 3402 – Galaxies and Cosmology, taught by Prof. Cooney.
    • AST 4700 – Experimental Methods in Astronomy, taught by Dr. Schambeau.
    • AST 5151 – Physics of Planetary Processes, taught by Prof. Bennett.
    • AST 5263 – Advanced Observatory Astronomy, taught by Prof. Donaldson Hanna.
    • PHY 6246 – Classical Mechanics, taught by Prof. Fernandez.
  • Spring 2022 – an even-numbered spring
    • AST 2002 and 2002H – Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course), taught by several faculty.
    • AST 3110 – Solar System Astronomy, instructor TBD.
    • AST 3211 – Stellar Astrophysics, instructor TBD.
    • AST 4762 – Astronomical Data Analysis, taught by Prof. Fernandez.
    • AST 5765 – Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis, taught by Prof. Fernandez.
    • AST 6165 – Planetary Atmospheres, taught by Prof. Ramirez.
  • Academic year 2022-2023
    • We anticipate offering AST 4142, AST 4152, AST 5145, AST 5154, AST 5937, and AST 6112 during this academic year, with instructors TBD.
    • We also anticipate continuing to offer AST 4700, AST 4762, and AST 5765 on an annual basis.
    • All this is subject to change!