Like most of the Rochester physics and astronomy faculty, Dan Watson teaches a wide variety of courses, from large non-science-major classes to tiny advanced graduate tutorials. Also like most of his colleagues, he develops and continuously redevelops a lot of electronic media for his courses. He strongly prefers to leave these materials publically accessible, though he often password-protects homework and exam solutions. If you are an instructor of similar classes and want access to the protected sections, just ask Dan.
Here are links to the most recent versions of his more-presentable course websites. During his term as Department Chair he won't be teaching -- with the isolated exception of AST 106, Fall 2015 -- and is interested in seeing just how short the shelf life is for the astronomy courses.
Animation by Robert Hurt (SSC)
Astronomy 102: black
holes, time warps, and the large-scale structure of the Universe. A
course on relativity and relativistic astrophysics presented
minimally-mathematically, and aimed at non-science majors. All
homework and exams are administered on line, using the
WeBWorK system. Taught by
Dan in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009;
occasionally also taught by Frank Wolfs and Laura Arnold.
Astronomy 106: the cosmic
origins of life. An account of the evolution of the Universe, the
Galaxy, the Solar system, and life and civilization on Earth. Aimed
primarily at non-science majors. All homework and exams are
administered on line, using the
WeBWorK system. Taught by Dan in 2010, 2012 and 2015;
occasionally also taught by Laura Arnold and Adam Frank.
Astronomy 111: the Solar
system and its origins. Suitable for freshmen but taught at the
honors level, this course is an introduction to planetary surfaces, interiors
and atmospheres, celestial mechanics and planetary rings, asteroids
and comets, protoplanetary disks and planet formation, and
exoplanets. Normally includes nighttime observations with the
24-inch telescope at UR's Mees Observatory. Taught by Dan in 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011; also
frequently taught by Alice Quillen and Eric Mamajek.
introductory astrophysics. A sophomore, honors-level course on the
physics of stars, interstellar matter, galaxies, and the large-scale
structure of the Universe. Normally includes nighttime observations
with the 24-inch telescope at UR's Mees Observatory. Taught by Dan
in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013; also
frequently taught by Alice Quillen and Eric Mamajek, and
occasionally by Eric Blackman.
astronomical instruments and techniques. Intended for senior
undergraduates and beginning graduate students, this was an advanced
class in geometrical and physical optics, interferometry, detectors,
noise and the theory of light detection, all applied to astronomical
imaging and spectroscopy. Taught by Dan in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995,
1997 and 1999. It was popular at first, but as opportunities for
research in astronomical detectors and instrumentation dwindled in
the late 1990s, the course lost its audience, and is on the books
only as a reading course now.
Astronomy 241: stellar
astrophysics. A course for junior and senior physics and astronomy
majors in stellar atmospheres, interiors and evolution, including
an introduction to circumstellar accretion disks. Operates more like a tutorial or workshop than a lecture- and textbook-based
course, as most of the work involves a great deal of mathematical
exposition and numerical simulation. Dan taught this course in 1995,
1997 and 2005; it is also frequently taught by Eric Mamajek.
Physics 122: electricity
and magnetism for science and engineering majors. Accent on the
engineering, in this case. Dan taught this class for the first
time in 2012, on the occasion of our department's decision to split
this rapidly growing course into two lecture sections. Regina Demina
taught the other one; she frequently teaches this course, as do
Kevin McFarland, Frank Wolfs, Nick Bigelow, and several others of
Dan's faculty colleagues.
Physics 217: electricity
and magnetism I. The first semester of our junior-level E&M course
for physics and astronomy majors, mostly covering electrostatics and
magnetostatics. Taught by Dan in 1990 and 2002; this course is
frequently taught by Steve Teitel.
Physics 218: electricity
and magnetism II. The second semester of our junior-level E&M course
for physics and astronomy majors, covering light, the interaction of
light with matter, and the physics of radiating charges, currents
and fields. Taught by Dan in 1991 and 2004, it is most often taught
these days by Pierre Gourdain or Steve Teitel.