Galaxies, Cosmology and the Accelerating Universe

Syllabus and Recommended Reading

Class Slides

Class 1: Perspectives (printable version)
Class 2: Distances (printable version)
Class 3: Starlight and Stars (printable version)
Class 4: Mapping the Universe (printable version)
Class 5: The Expanding Universe (printable version)
Class 6: Living in an Expanding Universe (printable version)
Class 7: The Standard Hot Big Bang (printable version)
Class 7: The Standard Hot Big Bang (as presented)
Class 8: The Evolution of the Universe and Beyond (printable version)

Videos used in the class

The Illustris simulation of galaxy formation Very very amazing.

More Recommended Books

A very good, free, online astronomy textbook for first-year non-science college students

Best book for this class: Beyond the Galaxy: How Humanity Looked Beyond Our Milky Way and Discovered the Entire Universe

A new popular book about General Relativity from an historical point of view is The Perfect Theory

A rather strange book that claims to teach all mathematics you need to know to do General Relativity from scratch is A Most Incomprehensible Thing. I doubt very much if you can learn all the mathematics involved from just reading this book, but if you're mathematically educated through calculus you may find this book enlightening

A book appropriate for senior undergraduate physics students is An Introduction to Modern Cosmology. If you were a physics or chemistry major at university, and recall (and enjoyed) the physics, particularly Newtonian mechanics and thermodynamics, you might enjoy this book. It gives a flavor of how we know about the history and geometry of the Universe.

Interesting Links

There is a lot of fantastic material out there on the web, including free courses at every level.You must take care, though, to be aware whether what you are reading is generally accepted. The following websites are safe, and other websites that say something inconsistent with these should be treated with skepticism.
A great site about our understanding of the geography of the Milky Way is Galaxy Map
For galaxy pictures it's pretty hard to beat The Hubble Space Telescope
But amateur astrophotgrapher Rob Gendler comes pretty close

The Scale of the Universe in both directions. An interactive "Powers of Ten".
Cosmic Journey from the American Institute of Physics
Everyday Cosmology from the Carnegie Institution. This is a simpler site, concentrating on personalities and timelines
The History of the Universe treated as a calendar year
Recent New York Times article on measuring the Hubble constant
Get the history of the universe and the big bang on a placemat! And lots of other good science education
Of course Wikipedia is generally pretty reliable, if sometimes incomplete.

Here is my astrophotography web site, showing what you can do for a few thousand dollars from central Marin