ASTR& 101: Introduction to Astronomy

Class Program
Weekly Contact Hours
Course ID
Meets Degree Requirements For
Natural Science with Lab

Explore the universe through scientific analysis of astronomical images, observations and measurements. Learn the history of astronomy, the nature of light, how to locate and identify objects in the night sky, how the solar system originated, stars, galaxies, and the expansion of the universe. Indoor and outdoor laboratory exercises.

Grading Basis

MATH 93 or higher

Course Learning Outcomes

Core Topics


  1. Apparent motions of Sun, Moon, stars and planets in the sky
  2. Solstices and equinoxes
  3. Lunar cycle and phases of the Moon
  4. Eclipses
  5. Important people and ideas in the history of astronomy
  6. Planetary orbits according to Kepler
  7. Astronomical distance measurements, units, and unit conversions
  8. Electromagnetic radiation, light, and basic spectroscopy
  9. Types of telescopes and how they work
  10. Stars, from “birth” to “death,” including Hertzprung-Russell diagrams, main sequence stars, giant stars, and dwarf stars
  11. Novae, types of explosions produced by stars: types, including kilovae as well as supernovae
  12. Stellar remains: planetary nebulae, white dwarfs, pulsars/neutron stars, and black holes
  13. Galaxies: types, distances, and distribution in the universe
  14. Expansion of the universe and its “big bang” origin
  15. Unresolved questions in cosmology: dark matter and dark energy
  16. Origin and early history of the solar system: the condensed nebula theory and its evidence
  17. Terrestrial planets and their properties, including Earth and Moon
  18. Jovian planets and their properties and moons
  19. Dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids/meteors/meteorites
  20. The search for extra-solar system planets and life elsewhere in the universe
  21. Gravitational waves: what they are, how Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted them, how they ae detected, what the spectra of binary black hole mergers and binary neutron star mergers mean
  22. Supernovae and novae: when stars explode