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
- 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
- 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
- Astro 140 Life in the Universe (3:3:0) (GN). Prerequisite: Astro 001
- 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:
- Historical and multicultural development of cosmology over the past
two millenia, up to the modern worldview. Provides a cosmic perspective on
- 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:
- 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.