Welcome to the course webpage for ASTR 405: Exoplanetary Science.

Class Announcements:

2016-02-21: This radial velocity simulator is useful for visualizing the orbits we discussed in class. Note that the "longitude" shown on this page appears to be related to periastron argument by ω = 90° - longitude.

2016-02-08: There are several programs available online for solving Kepler's equation, including this one written in MATLAB.

2017-01-26: Starting January 31, classes will be held in the new classroom of BUS 130.

2017-01-23: Class announcements will appear here periodically.

Contact details:

  • Instructor: Stephen Kane
  • Office: TH 309
  • Office hours: Wednesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm
  • Phone: 415-338-2451
  • Email: skane@sfsu.edu (write ASTR 405 in subject)

Download the class syllabus here.

Class times:

  • Tuesday, 11:00pm-12:15pm BUS 130
  • Thursday, 11:00pm-12:15pm BUS 130


  • "The Exoplanet Handbook" by Michael Perryman
  • I also recommend "Exoplanets" edited by Sara Seager

Important Dates:

  • February 10: Last day to drop without a W
  • February 17: Last day to add by exception
  • March 16: Literature Review due
  • March 20-24: Spring Break (No class)
  • April 24-28: Kane travel (No class)
  • May 4: Data Project report due
  • May 16: Last class meeting
  • May 18: FINAL EXAM 10:45pm-1:15pm in BUS 130

Useful Links:



  • Homework (40%): There will be five homeworks during the semester. Most problems will require analytic solutions, however there will usually be one problem per assignment that will involve graphing and numerical solution with computer software such as Mathematica, MATLAB, or any programming language.
  • Literature Review (15%): Students will be required to write a 4-page critique of a published paper. The chosen paper must be exoplanet-related and published in a refereed journal. The critique must include a summary of the paper, why the paper was chosen, and discuss aspects such as key results, their significance, and original ideas on future work. There are several places to find exoplanet papers, such as the NASA Astrophysics Data System. The easiest method may be to use the astro-ph.EP category of the preprint archive. Check the "Important Dates" section for the due date.
  • Data Project (15%): Students will be required to complete a project using exoplanet data using the NASA Exoplanet Archive, the Exoplanet Data Explorer, the Habitable Zone Gallery, or the Systemic Console. The written report may be up to 5 pages long (including plots). Guidelines on writing lab reports may be found here.
  • Final Exam (30%): The final exam will test on all material covered during the semester. Exam dates are listed in the ``Important Dates'' section, please take note and arrive on time. If you arrive after someone else has finished the exam, you may not take that exam.

Final Grades:

  • A = 90% to 100%
  • B = 77% to 89%
  • C = 65% to 76%
  • D = 50% to 64%
  • F = below 50%