Welcome to: ASTM13 Astronomy: Dynamical Astronomy, 7.5 credits

​​​​​​​ ASTM13: Dynamical Astronomy, 7.5 credits 

Welcome to the homepage of the "Dynamical Astronomy" course.
This course, called Dynamical astronomy, deals with the determination of the kinematical and dynamical properties of stellar systems, in particular the Milky Way galaxy, based primarily on astrometric observations. This sentence already contained several terms which may require some explanation (paraphrased from Wikipedia):

Kinematics is the branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of bodies and systems of bodies without consideration of the forces that cause the motion. In stellar astronomy, it may refer to the purely geometrical description of the spatial distribution and motions of stars.

By contrast, dynamics is the study of the causes of motion and changes in motion, in other words the study of forces and why objects are in motion. The forces that we will consider are exclusively due to gravitation.

Astrometry is the branch of observational astronomy that uses very precise angular measurements to determine the positions, motions and distances of stars and other celestial bodies.

Roughly speaking, then, astrometry provides the observational data, kinematics are the immediately derived properties of the stars, and dynamics our interpretation of these properties in terms of, for example, the distribution of mass in our Galaxy. In a wider context, these investigations give important clues to some very fundamental problems in astronomy, such as how a galaxy is formed.


    The course consists of: 

  • Newtonian gravitation and dynamics. 
  • Reference systems and units. 
  • Galactic coordinates. 
  • Astrometry and the determination of the distances, motions and distribution of stars. 
  • The HR diagram and the colours, luminosities and ages of stars. 
  • Stellar kinematics. 
  • The solar motion and the Local Standard of Rest. 
  • The rotation curve, differential galactic rotation and Oort's constants. 
  • Non-circular motions. 
  • The galactic potential and galactic orbits. 
  • The phase space, collisionless Boltzmann equation and Jeans' equations. 
  • Dynamical determination of masses and mass densities.​

Term: ​Autumn        Period: ​2
Level: ​A
Language: English
Course responsible: 
Registration/Requirements: LUBAS

Form of teaching
​The teaching consists of lectures, matlab sessions and laboratory exercises (done using the programing language 'Matlab"). Lectures: ​16 hours
Matlab tutorials: 6 hours
Labs: 18 hours


In order to pass the course, you have to pass the home exam (details to be announced later) and hand in acceptable reports for P1, P2 and either P3 or P4. This is how the grading is done:

  • Each of the problems (P1-P4) as well as the exam (E) is graded on a scale from 0 to 100%. The mean grade is calculated as
  • M  = 
  • 2
  • 9
  • (P1 + P2 + Pn) + 
  • E
  • 3
  • where  Pn = P3 or P4
  • You have failed if any of P1, P2, P3 or P4, or E is <50 (but see below how you can still pass). Otherwise, you get a "Pass" (Godkänd) if M<75 or a "Pass with Distinction" (Väl godkänd) if M is at least 75.
  • As long as you have failed, you are entitled to hand in improved versions of the failed reports, or re-do a failed home exam once.
  • If you are close to receiving a "Pass with Distinction", you may also be allowed to improve the reports.

Grading scale: U-G-VG


There is no textbook for this course. We use the compendium "Dynamical astronomy: Lecture Notes for ASTM13" (60 pages, Lund Observatory, 2010) which will be on sale at Media-Tryck (Sölvegatan 14, house I) price is 80 SEK.
Course responsible and lecturer
  • David Hobbs (DH)​​​​, david.hobbs@astro.lu.se
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