ASTR 100 Introduction to Astronomy
ASTR 100 Introduction to Astronomy is a 3-credit CORE Physical Science
course. It does not have a laboratory section, but it does have a
discussion section. There are no pre-requisites for this class.
This class is aimed at non-science majors. It will emphasize the
scientific method and means scientists use to determine what we know
about astronomical objects. The math skills required are those you should
possess upon entry to the university: some simple algebra, the use of
scientific notation and units, and how to interpret graphs.
ASTR 100 is an introduction to the science of astronomy. Its goal is
to give you a better understanding of not only what objects are in the
universe, but also what we think we know about how those objects got
that way, and most importantly, how we know. Why are there
craters on the Moon? Why do we have seasons? Why do we think there
used to be water on Mars? What is a black hole really? How will the
The most important aspect of astronomy, like any science, is that all
of our conclusions about astronomical objects are based on evidence
that has been verified by many astronomers and in some cases tested
directly in the laboratory. Because of this, the course will be
organized as a series of questions asking "how do we know" and
"why" about many astronomical objects and situations. We will begin
by asking basic questions about the Earth and the solar system, and
then extend our questioning to topics concerning stars, the galaxy,
and the universe. The schedule at the end of the syllabus lists the
questions that we will be asking and answering.
Why are you taking ASTR 100? Most likely you want to fulfill your
CORE science requirement. However, if you take full advantage of this
class, you can learn not only a lot about the universe around you, but
also other skills that will help you in any future career you choose.
To this end, I hope you will realize a number of goals by the time you
finish ASTR 100 this semester. These goals are include, but are not
limited to, astronomical knowledge.
- An understanding of our place in the universe and what other
objects are in it.
- A basic grasp of the physical processes occurring within our
solar system and in the rest of the universe.
- Knowledge of the methods and tools astronomers have used to
decipher and understand the universe.
- The ability to think critically and logically about information
- How to effectively communicate your knowledge to others.
- An enhancement of your sense of personal responsibility.
The background image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft; image
credit is to NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
The material on these webpages is Copyright ©
2008 by Melissa N. Hayes-Gehrke and may not be reproduced without my