Review Comment

[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

May 11, 2016

van Gorkom, Jacqueline
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

This is one of my favorite classes I've taken at Columbia. Professor Van Gorkom managed to make this class simultaneously clear and deep. This class wasn't difficult but I learned a lot. This class works for both science majors and non-science majors. She's one of the only science professors I've had who really enjoys teaching.

Workload:

Some problem sets, a midterm and a final.

April 19, 2016

van Gorkom, Jacqueline
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

Professor van Gorkom is one of my favorite professors at Columbia. She was incredibly approachable, easy to speak to, and she was also very interested in the subject matter. She is an accomplished radio-astronomer and she often speaks about how her own work relates to the things that we discuss in class. I found the class very easy, and the problem sets interesting as well. Maybe the fact that this class is so enjoyable and the things that we discussed were so interesting made me form a bias in favor of this professor, but I honestly think that she is one of the sweetest, most genuine, and quite frankly hilarious, professors that I have ever had. I hope that I can take another class from her in the future. If you have the opportunity to take this class, please do it. You don't even have to go to class to get a decent grade (based on several friends that skipped often), but I think you will find the material so interesting that you won't want to miss it.

Workload:

A few problem sets before and after the midterm, a fairly easy midterm and a manageable final. Overall, a pretty light workload if you find the subject material interesting and don't mind studying for a bit.

December 27, 2010

Putnam, Mary
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

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

Putnam is a decent professor. Not extremely engaging, but tries to make the material interesting (this is coming from someone who is not inherently interested in the subject matter at all).... but the work is HARD! it's minimal (like 8 problem sets and a midterm and final), but you have to know what's what on the tests! If you're not going to do the reading, and if you're not good at science, getting above a C isn't a guarantee. That said, it was a semi-enjoyable class and i dont regret taking it to fulfill the science req.

Workload:

problem sets, midterm, final, yada yada

December 22, 2010

Putnam, Mary
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

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

This class was a lot of fun, and would be a great way for to fill a science requirement or dabbled in astronomy. Professor Putnam brought us through Special and General Relativity, galaxy formation, and the Big Bang, with discussion of dark matter, dark energy, etc. in there, too. It was a pretty conceptual class, with almost no math involved. Sometimes Professor Putnam told us about ongoing research being done on certain things we were talking about.

Exam reviews were fun, too. Professor Putnam used a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire program to make a game out of the review, with students picked out of a hat playing for prizes including candy, a Luke Skywalker action figure, and bonus points on a homework.

If you are looking for a more rigorous understanding of astronomy, I suggest you jump right to the astrophysics I and II courses. This is definitely an introduction. Nonetheless, you learn a lot and it's all pretty interesting.

Professor Putnam herself is not the most engaging lecturer, but she's not bad, by any means. Most people kept coming to lecture, and Professor Putnam tried her best to keep it interesting by showing movie clips and NASA photos and making sci-fi references/jokes (for instance, when discussing wormholes, she described the way faster than light travel is achieved in the Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica universes).

Workload:

Tiny. An easy and short problem set every two weeks or so, a midterm and a final, both mostly multiple choice with some short answer. The textbook is good but entirely unnecessary.

June 07, 2010

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

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

To any BC student looking to fulfill the math requirement: Take. This. Class. Yes, it's a ton of math that seems insanely overwhelming to those of us who can barely multiply, but Frits is *so* nice and *so* helpful, that you'll never worry about asking for help. More importantly, his midterm and final are completely open note, meaning that as long as you organize your notes and problem sets before the exam, you're likely to find the answers to the questions right in your notebook. No need to spend hours studying the night before! Seriously...take this class. You'll reduce your stress level, and you'll actually learn something!

Workload:

Not bad. 4-5 problem sets, with about a week to complete each one. One midterm, one final. Problem sets took me about an hour to complete (looking things up online helped a LOT), and I barely studied for the exams, and I ended up with a B+.

May 09, 2010

Paerels, Frederik Silver_nugget
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

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

Frits is great! He is willing to help you with anything all you have to do is ask. He's easy going and approachable and not a stuck up asshole like some other professors are across both schools. He views his students as people far more then some other professors. I felt like I was respected and my lack of math knowledged and struggling was taken into consideration. He is a wonderful person and its been a pleasure having him as a professor!

Please be advised if you are not good in MATH do NOT take this class. Despite how easy it may seem the concepts involve math that can be challenging.

Workload:

3-4 problem sets, midterm, and a final

January 19, 2009

Johnston, Kathryn Silver_nugget
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

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

I thought this was an absolutely delightful course! Professor Johnston is a cheerful, open and extremely friendly person who, at least in our class, was really good at engaging the class and lecturing engagingly. It would probably help a lot if you are naturally interested in galaxies, space, or physics, but in general this class wasn't too difficult. It is challenging, and I found myself having to go to see Professor Johnston on a number of occasions for homework help/talking about random interesting things. I didn't take the lab, so i have no idea what happened there, but in terms of this class i would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in astronomy. The only problem i had with this class was that we had to move on to different topics- aka i found everything fascinating.

Workload:

several problem sets, midterm, final. the great thing about this class was that we only had homework every 2 weeks, when we had a problem set, and usually these could be tackled in an hour or two. very light daily work.

December 29, 2008

Johnston, Kathryn Silver_nugget
[ASTR C1420] Galaxies and Cosmology

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

A great course and a great professor! Professor Johnston was able to successfully engage the class in discussions and lectures about the universe, a topic which many people don't really know much about. I can't recommend this course to people interested in the physics behind everything, though. Take an astrophysics course you are one of these people. But if you are even remotely interested in gaining an in-depth layman's understanding of the way galaxies are formed and how the universe is structured, definitely take this course!

Workload:

6 problem sets, very easy. Little to no math involved on most of them. Very easy midterm and final. Attend lecture, take notes if need be, and you have your A.

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