Understanding how stars work - what makes them shine - is one of the great accomplishments of 20th-century science. The theory of stellar structure allows us to investigate the interiors of stars, even though what we observe is radiation from their outer atmospheres. This theory also helps us determine how old stars are, how they create heavier nuclei from lighter nuclei in their centers, and how they evolve from birth to death, ending as a white dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole. This course introduces you to the concepts behind and applications of this crucial breakthrough. We will review the physical principles - gravity, pressure, radiation, and how radiation interacts with matter - and apply these principles to further our understanding of stellar structure. We will collect our own measurements of stellar properties, such as the temperatures and luminosities of stars, using robotic telescopes controlled via the internet. Using these and other data, we will test the theory of stellar structure and explore what it can tell us about the universe. While it is not required, students who have taken this course in the past have found it beneficial to bring their own laptops to class if they have them.
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