Introductory Courses in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Every semester, the Department offers several popular courses that fulfill the Natural Science General Education requirements. Astro 0xx-1xx level courses are designed for non-Science majors, while Astro 2xx level courses are designed for Science or other technical majors. Some course materials are available electronically via Courseware.
Astro 001 Astronomical Universe (3:3:0) (GN).
A broad introduction to all of astronomy including historical development of our understanding; basic physics of gravity, light and atoms; planets, moons and other objects in our solar system; the Sun and other stars; the evolution of stars including red giants, neutron stars, supernovae and black holes; the Milky Way and other galaxies; quasars and other active galactic nuclei; the expanding Universe and Big Bang cosmology; the role of intelligent life in the Universe. This course consists of 3 lectures/week.
Astro 010 Elementary Astronomy (2:2:0) (GN).
Similar to Astro 001, but skipping some topics. This course consists of 2 lectures/week.
Astro 011 Elementary Astronomy Laboratory (1:0:2) (GN).
Hands-on laboratory, usually held in the evenings so the heavens can be observed on clear nights. Includes knowledge of the sky and its motions, optics, star and galaxy properties. Observing sessions take place on the roof of Davey Laboratory with several telescopes from 8" to 24" diameter. Some sessions use a small planetarium or computer sky maps. This course is often taken simultaneously with Astro 010, but can be taken with Astro 001 or in isolation.
Astro 020 Freshman Seminar in Astronomy (1:1:0)
Topics of current interest in astronomy. Meets once a week.
Astro 110 Archeoastronomy (3:3:0) (DF) Prerequisite: Astro 001 or 010.
Astronomical structures and alignments at archeological sites, and related cultural implications, are discussed.
Astro 120 The Big Bang Universe (3:3:0) (GN). Prerequisite: Astro 001 or 010.
Explores extragalactic astronomy and cosmology: the birth and ultimate fate of the Universe, formation of galaxies and quasars, and the enigma of 'dark matter'.
Astro 140 Life in the Universe (3:3:0) (GN). Prerequisite: Astro 001 or 010.
Study of the origin of the stars, planets, and life on Earth, with emphasis on the possibility of life elsewhere in the Galaxy. Analyzes modern Searches for Extraterrestrial Intelligences.
Astro 230 The Construction of Modern Cosmology (3:3:0) (GN). Prerequisite: Engl 015.
Historical and multicultural development of cosmology over the past two millenia, up to the modern worldview. Provides a cosmic perspective on planet Earth.
Astro 291 Astronomical Methods and the Solar System (3:3:0) (DN). Prerequisites: Phys 201 or Phys 215.
Astro 292 Astronomy of the Distant Universe (3:3:0) (DN). Prerequisite: Astro 291.
This is a year-long sequence covering the same topics as Astro 001, but at a more detailed level. Basic astrophysical processes are discussed and calculated. Astro 291 is offered Fall semester and Astro 292 in the Spring.