Introduction to Astronomy - 1st year

A course in descriptive astronomy which covers the entire panorama of the universe from the origin and structure of the solar system, to the properties, origin and evolution of stars, galaxies and cosmology.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. Conceptualize the structure of the solar system and the universe;

2. Classify and explain the reason for the differences between the planets in our solar system, stars in the sky and types of galaxies in the universe;

3. Construct drawings correlating various planetary, stellar and galactic motions;

4. Trace the evolution of stars and the universe;

5. Relate the earth, our sun, our galaxy and in general, our location to the rest of the universe.


Course topics will include the following:

A. Basic Observation

B. Ancient Astronomers

1. Greek astronomy
2. Copernican revolution
3. Kepler’s Laws, Galileo’s observations
4. Newton: Forces and Gravitation

C. Moon

1. Eclipses
2. Phases
3. Physical characteristics
4. Formation and evolution

D. Solar System

1. Discovery of planets
2. Individual planets
3. Individual characteristics
4. Asteroids, comets and meteoroids
5. Origin and evolution

E. Properties of Stars

1. Brightness, distance, motion, temperature
2. Classification
3. H-R Diagram

F. Stellar Evolution

1. Star Formation
2. Evolution
3. Death of stars
4. Black holes, pulsars, white dwarfs

G. Milky Way Galaxy and Clusters of Stars

1. Sun’s position
2. Milky Way-shape and structure
3. Star clusters

H. Galactic Types and Structure

1. Classification: Spirals, Ellipticals, Irregulars
2. Comparative structure
3. Formation and evolution
4. Galactic clusters
5. Hubble Law

I. Cosmology

1. Hubble Law
2. Olbersi Paradox
3. Possible topologies
4. Steady State Universe
5. Evolutionary (Big Bang) Universe

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Discussion

3. Slide Presentations

Types of Assignments:

1. Reading assignments

2. Preparation for quizzes and exams

Sample Text:

1. Astronomy Today, 4th ed., Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan, (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2002).