ASTR 220 Collisions in Space
Spring 2009 Course Introduction
As its name suggests, this course focuses on the many different types
of collisions that occur as part of astronomical phenomena, from
impacts between solar system bodies to merging galaxies. Our theme in
the course will be the ways in which astronomical phenomena could
injure the human race or cause it to become extinct. A large impact
by an asteroid or comet with the Earth would wipe out the human
species. The effects of the Sun's activity have serious consequences
on the Earth. The Sun will eventually die, which is bad news for the
Earth. More exotic phenomena, such as supernova explosions, gamma-ray
bursts, and black holes could cause harm on the Earth if our planet
was unlucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time. And in
billions of years, the Milky Way galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy will
This class is aimed at non-science majors. It will emphasize the
scientific method and means scientists use to determine what we know
about these astornomical phenomena. The only math skills required are
those you should possess upon entry to the university: some simple
algebra, the use of scientific notation, and how to interpret graphs.
The image in the background of this page was taken by Debra Meloy
Elmegreen and colleges at Vassar College and the Hubble Heritage Team
at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
The material on these webpages is Copyright © 2007 by Melissa N. Hayes-Gehrke and may not be reproduced without my permission.