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Advanced Astrophysics


31 weeks

About the Course

This course is a rigorous, year-long, upper-level physical science course designed to deepen one’s appreciation for, and understanding of physics through the broad lens of astronomy and astrophysics. Traditional physics topics such as rotational kinematics and dynamics, angular momentum, energy, gravitation, and oscillations will be integrated with topics of radiation, optics, physical chemistry, and thermodynamics to address the diverse phenomena in the cosmos. Quantitative reasoning skills, such as order of magnitude estimation, will be solidified through meaningful applications, and modern statistical techniques and scientific computing will be introduced and used throughout the year. Students will learn how to use the Thacher Observatory, gain experience working collaboratively, deepen their capacity to give and receive constructive feedback, develop scientific communication skills in both written and oral form, and build fluency employing the foundational elements of scientific inquiry. 

Prerequisites: Integrated Science 1 and 2, Math 4H, OR consent of the science department

Your Instructor

Dr. Jon Swift

Dr. Jon Swift

Jon was born in New York but grew up surfing and playing sports in North County San Diego. His first loves are poetry and music. However, Jon’s fascination with the natural world led him into the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, where he has published research in several areas of specialization, including cosmology, star formation, exoplanets, and astronomical instrumentation. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a BS in physics, and earned an MA and a PhD in astronomy & astrophysics from UC Berkeley. At the Thacher School, Jon redesigned and renovated the campus observatory which now includes a fully automated, research-grade telescope. In addition to directing the observatory and maintaining a vibrant astronomy program where students are able to participate in relevant research, Jon teaches astronomy, physics, mathematics, and data science. Outside the classroom, Jon has developed the Thacher surfing program, which he coaches in the fall. Jon lives on the Thacher campus with his wife Gloria, daughter Annika, and son Ansel.

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