Astronomy 161
Lecture Audio Podcasts
Autumn 2007

These lecture podcasts are audio recordings of the daily lectures from my Autumn Quarter 2007 section of Astronomy 161. They were recorded live, unscripted, unedited, each day.

These podcasts are primarily intended as an additional study resource for the class. For example, if you must miss a lecture because of illness or an off-campus trip (sports teams, etc.), you can listen to a recording of the lecture you missed while reading along with the class notes and get mostly caught up. Many students have told me that they use the podcasts as study guides, listening to all or just part of a lecture again to go over material they didn't quite get the first time through. This can help later when studying for the Final as you can listen to lectures again from earlier in the quarter. Overall, students found them very useful, so I will do my best to get good-quality recordings of all lectures up on the web quickly.

Despite their name, you do not need an iPod to listen to a podcast. Any MP3 player, either a portable player or software running on your personal computer or laptop, will work just fine. I don't have an iPod myself, and instead listen to these recordings on my Windows XP computer using the iTunes software.

However, beware: these podcasts are a supplement to the lectures, not a substitute for attending class regularly. This class uses a lot of graphics, and lectures often include physical demonstrations of key ideas. If all you do is listen to the audio portion, you'll miss a lot of the key ideas from a lecture! The new technologies are wonderfully enabling, but they can also be dangerously seductive.


All recordings are Copyright © Richard Pogge, all rights reserved. You are allowed to make personal copies for your own listening, but you may not share or otherwise distribute these audio files to others. If others are interested in listening to them, please point them to this URL.

By downloading any of the audio files from this website, you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of the copyright statement above.

Getting the Recordings

You have a number of options for downloading these recordings:

Method 1: Subscribe to the Podcasts

There are several ways to subscribe to a podcast using various podcast receivers. My preferred way is to use Apple's free iTunes player. This will run on Window or Mac, and doesn't care if you own an iPod or not. Other players like other programs like Winamp and Juice work similarly, and are known to work well with these podcasts. My examples will be for iTunes, since most students and I use that.

Subscribe with iTunes

This is probably the easiest way to get the Podcasts. Your computer needs to have iTunes installed to do this. The latest version is 7.0, make sure you update iTunes before subscribing:

Subscribe to the Ast161 lecture podcasts using iTunes

Clicking on the link above will launch iTunes and access the Astro161 podcast page via the iTunes Store (subscribing is free despite the silly name). If you are using a Windows computer, may be asked permission to launch iTunes before you see the iTunes page with the podcast feed.

When you get to the iTunes Astro161 podcast page, click on the iTunes Subscribe Button button to subscribe to the podcast and start downloading lectures. You can also download individual lecture, write a review, read reviews, etc. After a brief pause, the podcast should appear in your "Podcasts" Library in iTunes.

Note: if you try to download individual lectures from the list in the iTunes window by double-clicking on the lecture title, it will download a short preview, not the entire recording. To download an entire single recording, click on the "Get Episode" button at the far right side of each line of the table in the iTunes window.

Subscribe to the Podcast RSS Feed

To subscribe to the podcast RSS feed directly, copy and paste the URL below into the appropriate "Subscribe to Podcast..." form on your podcast player (in iTunes, use the "Advanced" menu; other programs behave similarly):
Your player should automatically download the available lecture recordings, and most podcast readers can be setup to automatically download new lectures as they become available.

A few web browsers (for example, recent version of Firefox or Mac's Safari browser) know how to initiate a podcast download from an XML source file. Try it with this button:

XML Podcast Feed

If it succeeds, you'll see a page with the current offerings. However, if it fails you'll see a screen full of hard to read text (the raw XML code of the podcast feed). That gunk is your browser's way of telling you to try one of the other methods.

Either way you choose to do it, by subscribing to the podcast, you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of the copyright statement above.

Method 2: MP3 Audio File Download

As an alternative to subscribing to the podcast RSS feed, you can download individual lecture MP3 audio files. The lectures listed below are in chronological order. Each MP3 file is about 16Mb in size.
Welcome: The Astronomy 161 Podcasts
Lecture 01: Introducing Astronomy 161 (2007 Sept 19)
Lecture 02: Astronomical Numbers (2007 Sept 20)
Lecture 03: The Starry Night (2007 Sept 21)
Lecture 04: Measuring the Earth (2007 Sept 24)
Lecture 05: Mapping Earth & Sky (2007 Sept 25)
Lecture 06: Daily & Annual Motions (2007 Sept 26)
Lecture 07: The Four Seasons (2007 Sept 27)
Lecture 08: The Phases of the Moon (2007 Sept 28)
Lecture 09: Eclipses of the Sun & Moon (2007 Oct 1)
Lecture 10: Telling Time (2007 Oct 2)
Lecture 11: The Calendar (2007 Oct 3)
Lecture 12: The Wanderers: Planetary Motions (2007 Oct 4)
Lecture 13: The Harmony of the Spheres: Greek Astronomy (2007 Oct 8)
Lecture 14: The "Revolutions" of Nicolaus Copernicus (2007 Oct 9)
Note: Due to a recorder malfunction, only the first 15 minutes were recorded.
Lecture 14 from Au2006: Copernicus lecture from Ast161 in Autumn Quarter 2006.
Same basic material, to make up for the failed recording of 2007 Oct 9. Oops...
Lecture 15: "The Watershed": Tycho Brahe & Johannes Kepler (2007 Oct 10)
Lecture 16: "The Starry Messenger": Galileo Galilei and the Telescope (2007 Oct 11)
Lecture 17: "On the Shoulders of Giants": Isaac Newton & The Laws of Motion (2007 Oct 12)
Lecture 18: The Apple and the Moon: Newtonian Gravity (2007 Oct 15)
Lecture 19: Orbits (2007 Oct 16)
Lecture 20: Tides (2007 Oct 17)
Lecture 21: Dance of the Planets (2007 Oct 18)
Lecture 22: Light the Messenger (2007 Oct 22)
Lecture 23: Worlds Within: Atoms (2007 Oct 23)
Lecture 24: Matter & Light (2007 Oct 24)
Lecture 25: Measuring Light: Spectroscopy (2007 Oct 25)
Lecture 26: Telescopes (2007 Oct 26)
Lecture 27: Deep Time: The Age of the Earth (2007 Oct 29)
Lecture 28: Inside the Earth (2007 Oct 30)
Lecture 29: The Earth's Atmosphere (2007 Oct 31)
Lecture 30: The Moon (2007 Nov 1)
Lecture 31: The Family of the Sun (2007 Nov 5)
Lecture 32: The Origin of the Solar System (2007 Nov 6)
Lecture 33: Battered Mercury (2007 Nov 7)
Lecture 34: Venus Unveiled (2007 Nov 8)
Lecture 35: The Deserts of Mars (2007 Nov 9)
Lecture 36: Worlds in Comparison: The Terrestrial Planets (2007 Nov 13)
Lecture 37: The Gas Giants: Jupiter & Saturn (2007 Nov 14)
Lecture 38: The Ice Giants: Uranus & Neptune (2007 Nov 15)
Lecture 39: The Moons of Jupiter (2007 Nov 19)
Lecture 40: The Saturn System (2007 Nov 20)
Lecture 41: Planetary Rings (2007 Nov 21)
Lecture 42: Asteroids (2007 Nov 26)
Lecture 43: Icy Worlds of the Outer Solar System: Pluto, Eris and the Kuiper Belt (2007 Nov 27)
Lecture 44: Comets (2007 Nov 28)
Lecture 45: ExoPlanets: Planets Around Other Stars (2007 Nov 29)
Lecture 46: Are We Alone? Life in the Universe (2007 Nov 30)

By downloading any of the audio files from this website, you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of the copyright statement above.

About the Recordings

All audio recordings are being captured live, and are offered unedited, uncut, and as-is. I usually get them converted to MP3 and on the website on the same day as the lecture.

The lectures were recorded using an Olympus WS-200S portable digital voice recorder and lapel microphone (Olympus ME-15). This device records the audio track as a single-channel Windows Media Audio (WMA) file (32Mbps, 44100Hz). I convert this WMA file into a 115kbps MPEG Layer-3 Audio (MP3) format files using the open-source winLAME encoder. The recorder is set for mono recording with the mic on low-gain (high gain causes too much room noise pickup). A typical lecture recording converted into MP3 format is about 16Mb in size (or around 40 minutes in duration).

Overall, the sound quality is uniformly good, with minor background noise pickup and clipping on occasion. Given the equipment, the lower registers tend to be lost or muted, so everything sounds slightly higher pitched. Professional recording and editing gear this is not, but it seems to suffice, and the spoken material comes through clearly on all playback methods we've tried thus far.

If you have comments or questions, please don't hesitate to send me an email. I especially want to hear from students or anyone else who has found these recordings useful.