AAA Early Spring 2017 Astronomy Class: Measuring Distances in Space

This specialty course focuses on the topic of astrometrics. We survey nine methods used by astronomers to estimate the vast distances in space, and review the physics upon which each method is based.

Please note that this is an advanced course. An understanding of basic astronomical concepts is assumed.  Presentations will include math examples, so a calculator is required.


Part A – Measuring Distances within the Solar System and Our Galaxy

Wednesday, February 1 – Early Greek attempts, Kepler’s laws and transits of Venus, radar

Wednesday, February 8* – Trigonometric parallax

Wednesday, February 15 – Spectra, inverse square law, star magnitudes, HR diagram

Wednesday, February 22 – Spectrographic Parallax


Part B – Measuring Distances Beyond Our Galaxy

Wednesday, March 1 – Standard Candles: Cepheids, SN 1A, Tully-Fisher

Wednesday, March 8* – Applying Hubble’s Law


Time:  classes start at 6:30 PM and finish around 8:30 PM.

Location: all classes are held at Cicatelli Center, 505 8th Ave, at 35th St. in Manhattan, 20th Floor. *Note: the  Feb 8 and March 8 classes will be in the Training Room on the 19th Floor.

Instructor: David Kiefer

David Kiefer holds various Masters degrees, including a M.S. in astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia. He has taught physics and astronomy at colleges in New York and New Jersey, and is presently a lecturer at City College and at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York. A member of the AAA, Mr. Kiefer observes regularly at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

Registration:  Closed