Sep 27, 2023  
2019 - 2020 Catalog 
2019 - 2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)

AST 111 - Introduction to Astronomy

Credits: 3
Instructional Contact Hours: 3

Observes celestial objects in the night sky and studies their motions. Discusses the origin, characteristics, and evolution of the solar system, stars, and galaxies. Emphasizes the way in which our understanding of the universe has changed over human history through the study of astronomy and uses astronomical instruments. 

Prerequisite(s): READING LEVEL 2 and WRITING LEVEL 2 and MATH LEVEL 2.
Corequisite(s): None
Lecture Hours: 45 Lab Hours: 0
Meets MTA Requirement: Natural Science
Pass/NoCredit: Yes

Outcomes and Objectives
  1. Explain aspects of science related to the night sky.
    1. Describe how the positions of objects in the sky change both nightly and monthly.
    2. Discuss both the celestial sphere and also the system of celestial coordinates of the sky (horizon and equator systems).
    3. Describe how our time-keeping and seasons are connected to the changing night sky.
    4. Explain the phases of the Moon from the Moon's motion around the Earth.
    5. Explain eclipses from the relative motion of the Earth, Sun, and Moon.
    6. Discuss both the precession of the North Celestial Pole and also equinoxes.
    7. Interpret star maps.
    8. Discuss the consequences of light pollution.
  2. Explain foundations of astronomy and the history of space exploration.
    1. Explain how astronomy is primarily an observational science.
    2. Explain the importance of the scientific method in astronomy.
    3. Use scientific notation with astronomical measurements and calculations.
    4. Identify astrology as a pseudoscience.
    5. Discuss the controversy over the benefits of space exploration.
    6. Evaluate the chance of finding life elsewhere in the universe.
    7. Explain some of the techniques used to search for extraterrestrial life.
  3. Explain aspects of the history of astronomy.
    1. Describe how ancient civilizations attempted to explain the heavens in terms of the Earth-centered model of the universe (Geocentric model).
    2. Identify some ancient societies that had relatively sophisticated knowledge of celestial objects and features of the Earth.
    3. Explain the modern view of the Sun-centered solar system (Heliocentric model) and its supporting evidence.
  4. Explain aspects of the primary science used in astronomy.
    1. Explain Kepler’s law of planetary motion.
    2. Explain the concept of gravity and its relation to planetary motion.
    3. Describe how stellar distances are determined.
    4. Explain that radiation consists of more than visible light.
    5. Explain the basic concepts of modern spectroscopy.
    6. Describe the different types of spectra.
    7. Describe how motion changes our measurements of radiation.
    8. Describe how we know the Universe is expanding.
    9. Explain how the temperature of an object is determined by its emitted radiation.
    10. Describe the different types of optical telescopes and how they work.
    11. Identify the advantages of radio astronomy.
  5. Explain aspects of our solar system.
    1. Describe the major steps in the evolution of the solar system.
    2. Explain the motion of the planets both as seen from Earth and also as viewed in the solar system.
    3. Compare and contrast the properties of the terrestrial and Jovian planets.
    4. Compare and contrast the atmospheres of the terrestrial planets in terms of temperature, pressure, and chemical composition.
    5. Explain how Earth became the only planet with abundant life.
    6. Compare and contrast the geologic and atmospheric development of both Venus and also Earth in terms of their respective greenhouse effects.
    7. Explain how Earth’s atmosphere is changing and what the risks of those changes are.
    8. Describe the nature and origin of the Earth’s magnetosphere and the causes of the northern and southern lights.
    9. Compare and contrast the major moons of the Solar System.
    10. Explain what we have learned about Earth’s Moon.
    11. Discuss the origin of asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
    12. Describe the relationship between meteoroids, meteorites, meteors, and meteor showers.
    13. Discuss the possible risk to Earth from collisions with near-Earth asteroids or comets, including evidence of previous collisions.
    14. Discuss and explain recent discoveries within the Solar System.
  6. Explain aspects of stellar evolution (including our Sun) and of galaxies.
    1. Describe stellar evolution.
    2. Restate properties of the Sun.
    3. Describe how our Sun relates to other stars.
    4. Identify the major types of solar activity.
    5. Explain why stars shine.
    6. Explain the difference between absolute and apparent brightness.
    7. Describe how stars are charaterized according to their brightness and surface temperature (Hertzprung-Russell Diagram).
    8. Describe supernova.
    9. Explain how neutron stars and black holes fit into the theory of stellar evolution.
    10. Describe how black holes can trap matter and radiation.
    11. Describe the basic properties of ordinary galaxies.
  7. Demonstrate how to observe the universe both with the unaided eye and also with a telescope.
  1. Record naked eye observations.
  2. Record solar observations using various filters.
  3. Record observations of the Moon, planets, and deep space objects with a telescope.

Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)