Astronomy 151

ASTR 151
Astronomy I

1. Catalog Entry

ASTR 151
Astronomy I

Credit hours (3)
Prerequisites: MATH 137 or equivalent

A quantitative introduction to astronomy for science majors. Survey of astronomy including history of astronomy, nature of light and gravity, telescopes and astronomical observations, evolution and dynamics of Earth and our solar system, dwarf planets and exoplanets. Students may not receive credit for both ASTR 111 and ASTR 151.

2. Detailed Description of Course

The major topics covered in this course range across the spectrum of topics in modern astronomy. The course deals with the foundations of astronomy, including the phenomena of eclipses and observations of planetary motions made by ancient astronomers; Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Newton's law of universal gravitation; history of human space flight; the nature of light, spectroscopy, and the fundamentals of optics and telescopes; planetary astronomy including a general view of our solar system and its formation; terrestrial and Jovian planetary structure including their atmospheres; Kuiper Belt objects, dwarf planets, exoplanets and methods for their discovery.

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will employ both descriptive and quantitative methods to the study of a variety of astronomy concepts. Students are expected to learn new vocabulary and ways of reasoning with regards to astronomical situations. Problems, review questions, and thought questions are assigned regularly and discussed in class. Current events in astronomy will be discussed through written responses to articles, and daily astronomical images. Students will regularly use astronomical images to develop qualitative and quantitative interpretation skills along with an understanding of astronomical data. A few observational and computer-based activities will be assigned for classwork and homework. The latest data and images from a variety of sources will be employed for analysis by students.

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

By the end of the course students will be able to:
    1) Describe the development of astronomy throughout history.
    2) Apply basic laws of physics including Newton’s Laws of Motion to astronomical situations.
    3) Describe and use Kepler’s laws of planetary motion in problems of orbital mechanics.
    4) Understand planetary surfaces.
    5) Understand planetary atmospheres and how the same principles apply to stellar atmospheres.
    6) Describe the location of objects in the solar system and why they are found in specific places.
    7) Describe the difference between terrestrial planets, Jovian planets, and moons.
    8) Identify different types of telescopes including optical and non-optical instruments.
    9) Understand how principles of physics applied to astronomical observations return specific information about deep space objects.

5. Assessment Measures

Student mastery of the material will be assessed via homework, tests, written responses to current astronomy-themed articles assigned by the instructor, and a cumulative semester exam.

6. Other Course Information


Review and Approval

April 23, 2014