Ast 102 Stars, Galaxies, Universe Initiator: Gary Mechler ceu/Credit Hours: 3 Campus: West Lecture Periods

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AST 102 Stars, Galaxies, Universe
Initiator: Gary Mechler CEU/Credit Hours: 3

Campus: West Lecture Periods: 3

Date: 3/11/2013 Lab Periods:

Introduction to the universe beyond the solar system. Includes the nature of light, how astronomers and

telescopes work, and the possibilities of alien life in the universe. Also includes the lifetime of stars, exotic objects such as quasars, pulsars and black holes; and the origin, nature, and future of the universe. Also includes scientific thinking as an application of critical and quantitative thinking, and science in contrast to pseudoscience.
Corequisite: AST 102LB

Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate improvement in critical and quantitative thinking by applying the scientific method to fact and theory in classroom learning, activities (some quantitative and mathematical), and assignments (some quantitative and mathematical).

  2. Distinguish science from pseudoscience.

  3. Induce or expand global awareness with the cosmic perspective on earth offered by describing the general hierarchical structure and individual components of the observable universe.

  4. Explain theories of the origin of the universe.

  5. Describe the nature of stars and starlight.

  6. Delineate the characteristics of galaxies.

  7. Indicate major technical developments assisting greater understanding of the universe.

  8. Discuss the probabilities of life elsewhere in the universe.

Course Outline:

  1. General Introduction

    1. What is science?

    2. The role of mathematics in science

      1. Quantitative vs. qualitative understanding

      2. Linear and angular measurement

      3. Unit conversion

      4. Equations

      5. Graphing

    3. What is astronomy?

    4. Value of astronomy and benefits to the individual

    5. Scientific method and the central role of skepticism

      1. Contrasts with pseudoscience

      2. Possible pseudosciences related to astronomy

        1. UFO’s (“flying saucers”)

        2. Ancient astronauts

        3. Scientific creationism as related to the age and origin of the Universe

  1. Nature of Starlight

    1. Magnitude system

    2. Electromagnetic spectrum

    3. Physics: what light tells us

      1. Radiation Laws (Planck, Wien, Stephan-Boltzmann)

      2. Doppler effect

  2. Modern Astronomy

    1. Major observatories

    2. Telescopes

      1. Optics

      2. Instruments

    3. Celestial coordinates

  3. Stars

    1. Physical nature

    2. Distances

    3. Motions

    4. Associations

    5. Clusters

      1. Open or galactic

      2. Globular

    6. H-R diagram

    7. The Sun and stellar evolution

  4. Galaxies

    1. Milky Way

    2. Galaxy morphology

    3. Quasars

    4. Clusters, superclusters, and voids

  5. Universe

    1. Description of present-day Universe and modern discoveries

      1. Hubble expansion

      2. Superclusters

      3. 3K cosmic microwave background

    2. Theories of origin

      1. Steady state

      2. Big Bang

      3. Inflationary

    3. Future of Universe

  6. Life in the Universe

    1. The nature of life

    2. Probability estimates

      1. Simple life forms

      2. Complex life forms

      3. Intelligence

    3. Pseudoscience: UFO’s and ancient astronauts

  7. Cosmic Perspective: Beyond Global Awareness

    1. Our location in space and time

    2. Astronomical numbers

    3. Specialized units

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