Review Comment

[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

May 05, 2020

Bryan, Greg Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

I loved Prof. Bryan! His class is very logical - you follow the textbook chapter by chapter, so if you get stuck on something you can always turn to the chapter in the book, and it's laid out. He goes in-depth into proofs and derivations, which is incredibly satisfying and engaging - he really takes it step by step, and makes it easy to follow.
I would say if you are good at math and physics, the class is an easy A. If you struggle with doing derivations by yourself, you may struggle more. His office hours are incredibly accessible though, and he usually lingers after class to field questions.
Overall, he is an incredibly sweet person, and clearly cares about his students' success and understanding. I would recommend this class to anyone who likes physics, astronomy, or even just math! It's a fun time, and it's too stressful.

Workload:

a problem set every week. anywhere from 2-6 problems, but they are always difficult, usually you have to prove or derive a theorem. took me 3-4ish hours a week
1 midterm and 1 final exam. both are open note/open book, which was supreme. but, since they're open note, there are no simple calculation problems, most exam problems test your ability to apply concepts, not just memorize them. a lot of people did pretty poorly on the midterm because of this.

December 10, 2018

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Frits is an overall good guy. He'll answer any question you have, is lenient on homework, and isn't stuck up. However, there are negatives to him that sometimes overshadow the good. He'll answer a question for 30 minutes of the class instead of actually lecturing about the class. This is good for a lecture or two, but he'll do it consistently, which means we'll get behind and not touch on some stuff on the syllabus. This, as well as his habit to go on tangents, gets progressively worse in the beginning and end of the semester. This is especially detrimental if you want to major in astrophysics, as you'll miss some important topics. Another negative is that sometimes he makes weird noises in class, but that's just nit-picking.

Besides this, when he actually teaches about the subjects on the syllabus, he does a pretty good job. He'll make sure you understand and makes it easy for everyone to understand. His workload is also pretty easy and makes you think outside the box at the same time.

Workload:

One every two weeks
Overall pretty easy and actually pretty interesting. Makes you realize you know more than you think.

January 08, 2015

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you're interested, at ALL, in astronomy or astrophysics - Frits is your man.

Professor Paerels brought everything in this class down to a very, very, very digestible level. At times, it seemed like a lot of his lectures were oversimplified (and sometimes this was true), but at the end of the day he made sure everyone had a functional knowledge of the astrophysical topics at hand. And if you had any astronomy related question - it didn't have to be related to the coursework - he was always ready to talk it out. Sometimes, half a lecture would just go by in question-and-answer sessions with Frits. That got annoying at times, but it's also a testament to how well he can take high-level astro concepts and bring them down to a first-year undergraduate level.

As for this class specifically, it was pretty easy. The problem sets are designed to walk you through each step with very minimal math required between each part - it was a little simplistic at times, but hey, it definitely made sure everyone was working towards the right thing. Additionally, he really emphasized understanding the physical meaning of results we obtained by calculation - "what does this number mean in the real world?" We had a midterm and final. The midterm was in-class and was open-everything (as such, it was slightly more difficult than the PSets or the final; this was the only graded portion of the class in which I lost points). The final was take home and basically just another PSet. This was a pretty fun class and I'd definitely take another class with Frits if I had the chance.

Workload:

5 PSets, approximately every other week, pretty easy. In-class midterm, slightly more difficult, but open-book, open-computer, etc. Take-home final, basically another pset. Not too bad.

November 16, 2011

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Fritz is probably one of the best professors anyone potentially interested in astronomy/astrophysics/physics can meet.

The class would often be about answering our questions about the universe whether related to the current material or not (make sure to ask him about the expansion of the universe to see the face he makes,) and felt more like a professional level class then any other intro class I have ever taken.

The hw's guide you through themselves and are fairly easy, yet you actually get to figure out mathematically amazing processes and relations about stars. These derivations only exist in old papers and so it is hard/impossible to look them up, but the question asks you step by step what to do.

The midterm was take home and more like a slightly more challenging pset then a midterm. We figured out the approximately how close protons get to each other in the core of mainsequence stars through some simplifying assumptions.

Though the class does require knowledge of basic calculus, and is definitely not for those who are not interested in science.

Workload:

a pset every other week, problems are asked step by step so the questions guide you through to the answer.
take home midterm
A slightly challenging take home final just like the psets and midterm.

May 24, 2008

Bryan, Greg Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

After taking the first semester of this course with Menou, Bryan's class seemed like sitting in on a fifth grade class learning to add fractions. Much of this class is highly qualitative, and Bryan has no plans of making it more difficult. The first 15 minutes of each class are spent discussing recent developments in astronomy, and lots of time is wasted fielding stupid questions. We spent nearly an entire class just describing the expansion of the universe, which is pretty much how Bryan likes to teach. Overall, this class is a much easier A than Menou's.

Workload:

Weekly problem sets that take decent time, because you actually have to read the textbook and learn the physics behind what Bryan describes, since he doesn't actually teach it in class. Midterm, final both open book and notes, and at a fair difficulty level. Bryan is one of the easiest graders I have ever seen, he will give 5/10 for vomit on a piece of paper.

December 06, 2007

Menou, Kristen
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Menou is a self purported theorist, and is fairly apt at explaining the complex systems and processes involved in this class. However, he seems to expect his students to be able to absorb the material as fast as he can, which is obviously not always the case. His class is extremely fast paced, and you cannot lag behind or else you will find that you have no idea what's going on. The problem sets are next to impossible without collaboration, and his exams have very little to do with anything that is covered by the problem sets. This class is a little too quantitative for an intro class, and it definitely should not turn off potential astrophysics majors taking their first class in the department like it did for me. I guess the redeeming thing about Menou is that he really care a lot about how you're doing in his class, and is always available to help

Workload:

5 problem sets, takes days to do on your own, maybe a day or two to do with collaboration.
Midterm, Final next to impossible.

April 18, 2005

Spiegel, David (TA) Gold_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Dave was by far the best TA I've ever had -- like the previous reviews said, he was great at pointing you in the right direction but leaving enough room for you to have to contribute your own thought to solve the problems. He was also incredibly accomodating, often answering my questions via e-mail at all hours of the night and even early morning (not an exaggeration -- he'd still be answering my e-mails at 5am sometimes). Dave also very clearly loves the subject matter -- in the recitations when we had significant time to discuss his own areas of interest, his excitement really came to the surface. Overall, one of the most impressive and nicest people I've met at Columbia so far.

Workload:

No workload specific to the recitations.

March 29, 2005

Spiegel, David (TA) Gold_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Ditto the previous response. Dave is the man. He was alwyas helpful and avaialbale and he really TAUGHT which was briliant in a chalenging class. Always ready to go the distance for his students. If you want a TA who spits you back the answers, well, thats not qute Dave, but he does better, he tries to make you understand.

Workload:

Problem sets every other week - challenging. work in groups and with the TA - it pays. Midterm. Final. Tough, but rather fair.

March 08, 2005

Spiegel, David (TA) Gold_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Dave basically made it possible to do the homework. He was very helpful, giving the necessary prods in the right direction to help you get the answer, but without actually putting the answer on the board. It can get a little annoying when there's a problem set due the next morning and he spends the first half of recitation discussing something related to the course that he finds interesting, but he meant well, and on the days when we didn't have homework due, the discussions were enjoyable. Also, he was very accommodating- if a bunch of us needed more help, he scheduled more homework helping sessions, on his own time. Overall, a stand up guy.

Workload:

No workload of his own; recitations were optional. For course workload, see other reviews of this course.

January 29, 2005

Menou, Kristen
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Kristen's class is a little bit of a conundrum. He's a fairly dynamic lecturer, and explains concepts pretty well, but his workload is absolutely impossible. After sitting in class, you can be sure you know what's going on, but then taking a glance at the homework makes you think you picked up the problem set for the wrong class. He asks very tedious, multi-step derivation-oriented problems, and is an extremely harsh grader, so don't expect much partial credit. Be prepared to punch long strings of numbers into your calculator in a minimal amount of time on exams, and if you hit the wrong button in one of the steps, be prepared to lose most or all of the credit for the problem. All in all, a very unsatisfying course- the class was okay, but you really felt like he was out to get you with the difficulty of the exams and the grading. Do yourself a favor, and wait until Frits or someone else teaches this course.

Workload:

Problem sets due every other week, made up of 1/3 book problems (moderate) and 2/3 his own problems (moderate to extremely difficult). Problem sets are undoable without constant Q and A wth the TA. 1 midterm (pretty easy if you can do the problem sets) that was way too long, making you rush and punch the wrong keys- remember, if you are off by even a little due to careless error, you lose most or all of the credit. Also, a final from left field- he surprised us by putting a ton of calculus derivations we had never seen before, that appeared in obscure unread sections of the text. Again, graded extremely harshly, and too long to complete in the given time.

January 15, 2004

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I cant say enough good things about Frits. His lectures are very interesting, and he is the nicest guy ever. He is always willing to help you out with a problem you are having trouble with, and will spend hours helping you out if you need it. He cares more about you learning the concepts and using your brain than memorizing equations.

Workload:

about 6 problem sets, open book midterm and final.

January 06, 2003

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR 2001] Introduction to Astrophysics I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I LOVE FRITS!!!!! He is such an awesome professor and one of the best professors I have had at Columbia University. He is an excellent lecturer and often while discussing a theory, he usually tells interesting facts related to either how the scientist discovered a theory or present experiments occuring. I always looked forward to his lectures and barely missed any classes. He is very friendly and I enjoyed speaking to him during office hours. Every students who I know that has taken Frits absolutely loves him.

Workload:

about 5 problem sets, 1 midterm, final

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I Frederik Paerels 2012 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I Jules Halpern 2010 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I Kristen Menou 2009 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I Frederik Paerels 2008 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I Joseph Patterson 2006 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I K Menou 2004 Fall TR / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
ASTR / ASTR ASTR ASTR C2001: Intro to Astrophysics I Frederik Paerels 2003 Fall TR / 2:40- 3:55 PM 1