Introduction to Astronomy

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Introduction to Astronomy
Science Course
Course CodeSTAR
Year Opened2001
Sites OfferedBRI, SCZ
Previously OfferedEST
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Course Description

In the 17th century, Galileo looked into the sky with a simple pair of lenses and saw the moons of Jupiter—a discovery that had a profound effect on astronomy. As in Galileo’s time, the past 80 years have been filled with far-reaching discoveries, enabling a deeper understanding of the universe in which we live.

In this course, students investigate light, optics, and other areas of physics employed in the study of modern astronomy. They start their tour of the universe learning about the planets in the solar system, examining their physical, chemical, and geological properties, as well as the mathematics of orbiting bodies.

Students then use the visual and calculated stellar brightness scales to calculate distances to stars. They investigate the lifecycle of stars, including the Sun, by plotting sunspots and distinguishing solar types based on temperature, color, and luminosity. Additionally, students learn about the evolution of galaxies and use data from drifting galaxies to approximate the Hubble Constant. Finally, they discuss exotic objects such as quasars and black holes.

To reinforce concepts learned in class, students visit a local observatory, planetarium, or science center, combining theory with practical applications of astronomy.