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.
The story of figuring out what we know about astronomical objects today is a long one that extends through the entire history of humanity. We'll begin by learning what ancient astronomers determined thousands of years ago using only their eyes: how the night sky changes, why the Moon has phases, and what causes the seasons. We will learn how past astronomers such as Kepler, Galileo, and Newton applied the scientific method and simple mathematics to explain the workings of the universe as they observed it.
Once we are armed with these tools and modern-day technology, we will move outward from our planet and learn about the solar system. We'll discuss the Earth in context with the other terrestrial worlds and see just what it is that makes the Earth just right for life. We'll study the huge jovian planets of the outer solar system, and the debris leftover from the formation of the solar system that we call asteroids and comets.
From there, we will move onto larger scales and talk about how stars work, beginning with our Sun. We will learn about how stars live and die, and the spectacular results of some of their deaths. Continually looking at larger objects, we will then learn about our galaxy, the Milky Way, and compare it to other galaxies. Finally, we will reach the largest object: the universe itself. We'll study how we believe the universe began, and its possible fates.
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.