This course is a study of the universe from the earth, moon and planets to the stars and the most distant galaxies. Topics include black holes, quasars, and the origin of the universe and the possibility of life on other planets. Current astronomical discoveries are discussed in class as they occur. Access to astronomical Web sites is available to students in this course. 3 hrs. lecture/wk. Note: An honors contract is available. Contact the Honors Program Office, COM 201, for more information.
Refer to the instructor's course syllabus for details about any supplies that may be required.
Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:
- Identify specific celestial objects in the night sky.
- Discuss the contributions to Astronomy made by Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton.
- Describe the general characteristics of each planet in our solar system and the spacecraft missions to each.
- Distinguish between planets, satellites, asteroids, comets and meteors in our solar system.
- Describe the basic functions of a telescope and its auxiliary instrumentation.
- Explain the process of star formation and a star’s ability to produce light and energy.
- Trace the evolutionary phases of various stars.
- Recognize the size and content of the various regions of our galaxy.
- Construct a general scenario of events in the Big Bang at the origin of the universe.
- Indicate the basic factors necessary for life to develop on other planets.
Content Outline and Competencies:
I. Observing the Universe Through the Sky Around Us A. Use celestial coordinates for positions of objects in the sky. B. Recognize constellations in the sky. C. Compare the motions of the sun, moon, planets and stars in our sky. D. Explain how seasons on Earth are determined. E. Recognize the various phases of the moon. F. Explain the conditions necessary for a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. II. History of Astronomy A. Give examples of ancient astronomical observations. B. Contrast the geocentric and the heliocentric views of the universe. C. Summarize the contributions made to astronomy by Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. D. Describe Kepler’s Three Laws of Planetary Motion. E. Identify the main characteristics of the elliptical motion of planets. F. Describe the effects of Galileo’s telescopic observations on the existing view of the universe. G. Describe Newton’s laws of motion and his law of gravitation. III. The Solar System A. Name the various types of celestial bodies in our solar system. B. Distinguish between terrestrial and Jovian planets. C. Identify the major spacecraft involved in the exploration of each planet. D. Explain the causes of tides on Earth. E. Compare the orbital properties and physical properties of the moon and Mercury. F. Differentiate between the formation processes of craters and of seas on the moon. G. Explain the currently accepted theory of the origin of our moon. H. List the distinguishing features of each of the planets. I. Summarize the discoveries of the planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. J. Compare the satellite systems of each planet. K. Describe the various types of asteroids in our solar system. L. Explain what a comet is and compare its orbital motion to that of the planets. M. Differentiate between meteors, meteorites and meteoroids. N. Explain the currently accepted theory of planetary system formation. O. List the minimum criteria believed to be required for extraterrestrial life. IV. Light and Telescopes A. Identify and describe the particle and wave characteristics of light. B. Explain the Doppler effect on light. C. Describe the processes by which an atom absorbs and emits light. D. Describe Max Plank’s theory of blackbody radiation. E. Differentiate between the two major types of optical telescopes. F. Identify the focal length, objective and magnification power of a telescope. G. Explain how CCD Cameras, Adaptive Optics, Space Telescopes and Radio Astronomy are used to study the universe today. V. The Sun and the Stars A. Compare the size and mass of the sun with the rest of the solar system. B. Identify the different regions of the sun. C. Explain the sunspot cycle on the surface of the sun. D. Describe the phenomenon of solar energy production. E. Distinguish the two methods of finding distances to stars. F. Explain the two methods of measuring starlight--absolute magnitude and apparent magnitude. G. List the spectral classes of stars and the dominant color of each class. H. Construct an HR Diagram and describe its use. I. Compute the stellar masses of stars in binary systems. J. Indicate the relation between a star’s lifetime and its location on the main sequence. K. Compare open clusters and globular clusters of stars. L. Analyze the role of interstellar materials in the formation of stars. M. Describe the formation and evolution of stars. N. Distinguish between evolutionary outcomes of high mass stars and low mass stars. O. Describe the composition of a white dwarf, a neutron star and a black hole. P. List the factors that cause nova and supernova explosions. VI. Galaxies and Beyond A. Discuss the process of discovering the size and shape of our galaxy. B. Name the various regions of our galaxy and locate the sun’s position in it. C. Estimate the amount of matter in our galaxy. D. Describe the content and shape of the four types of galaxies: spirals, barred spirals, ellipticals and irregulars. E. Explain Hubble’s Law in connection with the galaxies in the universe. F. Discuss dark matter and dark energy and their role in the universe. G. Explain what a quasar is. H. List the assumptions contained in the cosmological principle. I. Discuss the factors to be considered in determining the age of the universe. J. Explain the concepts of bound universe and an unbound universe. K. Compare the Big Bang Theory to the Ekpyrotic Theory of the origin of the universe.
Method of Evaluation and Competencies:
Evaluation of student mastery of course competencies will be accomplished using the following methods:
The Astronomy course grade will be based on a minimum of 650 points. Graded work for the course will include 4 tests, quizzes, written assignments, and a cumulative final exam. Grade Work Percentage of Course Grade 4 Tests 35 - 50% Chatroom/Discussion Participation 5 - 15% Quizzes, Paper(s) and/or Project(s) 10 - 25% Final Exam 15 - 20% Total 100%
- Students will need basic word processing and Internet searching skills for the completion of some papers, exercises and projects.
If you are a student with a disability, and if you will be requesting accommodations, it is your responsibility to contact Access Services. Access Services will recommend any appropriate accommodations to your professor and his/her director. The professor and director will identify for you which accommodations will be arranged.
JCCC provides a range of services to allow persons with disabilities to participate in educational programs and activities. If you desire support services, contact the office of Access Services for Students With Disabilities (913) 469-8500, ext. 3521 or TDD (913) 469-3885. The Access Services office is located in the Success Center on the second floor of the Student Center.