Introduction to Astronomy is
specifically designed for non-science majors at Monroe Community
College. It is not meant to be a “fluff” course. We will studying the
science of astronomy, that is, what do we know about the universe, and
how do we know it. We will look at scientific theories and analyze them
critically. I will try to minimalize the amount of math in the course,
although some calculations will be required. The concepts covered in
this introductory course have been selected to give the students a
basic survey of astronomy. These are concepts that I consider important
for all educated people to know!
To achieve these goals, students are expected to do assignments in a
timely manner and to participate in class activities. I also
ask students to let me know if I have not covered a concept
sufficiently, so I can correct the oversight as soon as possible.
Concepts in astronomy build upon each other, so you cannot fall behind
and expect to do well in this course. As it stands now, my office hours
will be 12:00 PM - MWF in Room 11-307 (the Geosciences
Of course, you can also reach me by telephone or email:
We will be using the textbook: The Cosmos by Pasachoff and
Filippenko, the Third Ediction. Let me know if you cannot find this
text! (If you have an older version, don't waste money buying the
latest edition. Very little has changed except some graphics).
Reading assigned text will help you to understand astronomic concepts
better, but it is not a substitute for attending class
regularly. Additional material is always covered during class ti
me. Taking good notes is definitely recommended!
Also, bring a calculator to class. It will often come in handy.
|These are the basic topics of
study for this course in astronomy:
(1) Where are We in the Universe?
(2) Light and Energy
(3) The Rise of Modern Astronomy
(4) The Earth in the Solar System: planets, satellites, comets,
(5) The Sun as a Star: hydrogen fusion, layers of the sun, solar
(6) Stars Near and Far, Large and Small, Hot and Cool
(7) Galaxies and the “Big Bang” theory
(8) Life Beyond the Earth
See the descriptions in the left margin for more details!
This class will be evaluated by the following criteria:
| • Examinations:
be three exams during the course for each of the major units (50%)
• Weekly quizzes: These will
usually be quick 5-10 short answer quizzes (15%)
• Assignments based on reading
(20%) This grade includes
attendance! Points are lost fro poor attendance and tardiness, and
extra points are awarded for excellent attendance.
• Presentation to class (as an
individual or as a group) (15%)
Your success (or lack thereof) in this astronomy course will depend on
your task commitment. There are no shortcuts to success;
time and effort are required by all class members.
Your attendance at every session is important. Please let me
know if you cannot attend a class, or if you will be late.
We can then work out a plan so you can make up missing work. If you
are absent more than three times without a medical excuse, I
recommend that you drop the course and a form will be sent to the
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