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 Introduction to Astronomy


This course will present an introduction to astronomy and cover the following topics: science and the universe, observing the sky, orbits and gravity, radiation and spectra, astronomical instruments, the Solar System, comets and asteroids, the Sun a nuclear powerhouse, stars and analyzing starlight, black holes and curved spacetime, the Milky Way Galaxy, the evolution and distribution of galaxies, the Big Bang, and life in the Universe.  Some course materials will be derived from the free OpenStax book on Astronomy. Emphasis will be more on conceptual, as contrasted with mathematical, comprehension.

There will be weekly laboratory exercises which will primarily involve use of computer simulations. Some of these laboratory exercises will involve rudimentary programming in Python.  There will be weekly homework. Some of these homework exercises will involve evening observing sessions using binoculars and/or small telescopes. A minimum of two evening observing sessions are planned. A student who is taking this course is assumed to be ready and willing to participate in evening observing sessions when skies are clear. Some of these homework exercises may also involve writing reports of guest lectures on specialist topics.

There is a written midterm exam and a written final exam. By the end of the course a student will have obtained a reasonable familiarity with the nature of the physical universe.​


Dr. Andrew Brooks