ASTR 100 Introduction to Astronomy

Spring 2010

Course Information

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.

Subject Matter

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 universe end?

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.

Astronomical goals:

General goals:
The background image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft; image credit is to NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
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