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Official Course Information

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Fall 2012

Astronomy Courses:

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AST107 - Astronomy
Credits: 3

Catalog Description: Introduction to the universe and the techniques used to study it. Topics include laws of planetary motion, the solar system, types of stars, stages in a star's life, galaxies, cosmology, and telescopes and other instruments. Note: Basic mathematical skills, such as multiplication and division done on a calculator, are required in this course. Two class hours, two laboratory hours.

Lecture: 2 hrs.
Lab: 2 hrs.

Course Student Learning Outcomes (CSLOs):
Students must demonstrate

*1. The ability to explore natural phenomena using scientific methods, in the course's laboratory. "Natural phenomena" means actual objects or processes, preferably observed firsthand by the students themselves. (The actual sky will be observed to the maximum extent allowed by the weather. Inside, there will be laboratory experiments and work with images or catalogs of observations made by others. Computer simulations or other fictitious information may be used for some topics where no other approach is possible.) "Laboratory" means an appropriate facility containing necessary equipment, as defined by the list included in the Course Outline. For a minimum of nine of the two-hour labs, students will observe something real, in the presence of the instructor.

Students must earn at least two thirds of the possible lab points to receive credit for the course.

To accomplish this objective, lab sessions must end no earlier than 11:00 pm in the summer, and no earlier than 10:00 pm in the spring or fall. Lab sessions will be scheduled for a minimum of ten (preferably fifteen) different nights; any fewer makes the odds of hitting clear nights too small.

*2. The ability to apply data, concepts, and models in the field of astronomy, by how they answer the questions on the quizzes, exams and comprehensive final. (These consist primarily of conceptual questions. Brief quantitative problems, at the level of basic arithmetic, will also be included to a limited extent.) Since this is not intended to serve as a prerequisite for any other course, there is some flexibility in the instructorâ??s choice of specific topics; however, the following will be demonstrated:
a.. the ability to interpret graphs.
b. the ability to do certain, selected calculations.
c. the ability to give correct verbal answers to questions about
- the methods used to study astronomy. (Telescopes, spectroscopy, the Doppler effect, parallax and other distance
finding techniques.)
- familiarity with the solar system, stars, and the Universe ("knowing your way around" in space), and how they change
over time (their origins, evolution, and ultimate fates).
- the principles which govern astronomical objects and systems. (The relevant physics, laws of planetary motion,
causes of seasons and eclipses, and principles causing stellar and cosmic evolution.)
- a little of Astronomy's history (as an example of what science is and how it works.)

* This course objective has been identified as a student learning outcome that must be formally assessed as part of the College's Comprehensive Assessment Plan. All faculty teaching this course must collect the required data (see Assessing Student Learning Outcomes form) and submit the required analysis and documentation at the conclusion of the semester to the Office of Assessment and Special Projects.


Content Outline:
I. The sky: apparent motion of the celestial sphere, laws of planetary motion.

II. Telescopes, other instruments, and the nature of light.

III. The Solar System
a. Overview
b. The Earth
c. The Moon
d. The terrestrial planets & asteroids
e. The outer planets
f. Meteors & Comets
g. The Sun

IV. The stars: distances, types, etc.

V. Stellar evolution
a. Formation of stars
b. Formation of our solar system
c. Evolution into a red giant
d. Final stages: Pulsating variables, Eruptive variables
e. Remnants of dead stars: White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars & Black Holes

VI. Galaxies & Cosmology
a. Galactic structure
b. Clusters of galaxies & the overall structure of the Universe
c. Redshifts & Hubble's Law
d. The creation, evolution & fate of the Universe




Effective Term: Fall 2009