Astronomers Finds Dark Energy

Dramatic Jupiter

Launching the Galileo Mission

Galaxy Blazes with New Stars

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Course Credit: One high school honor level science credit. Excellent preparation for science-related career. College credit can be earned by taking a proctored final exam.

Course Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify contributions and major theories related to the study of astronomy in ancient and modern times; Describe the basic features and motions of the night sky.
  • Identify and describe the theories related to the beginning, evolution and fate of the Universe; Explain how galaxies, including the Milky Way, are formed and distributed; Identify types of galaxies and their properties.
  • Describe the formation and evolution of the solar system and its planets and bodies; Identify and describe the major characteristics of the Sun, planets, moons, and small bodies in the solar system, including meteoroids, asteroids, and comets.
  • Describe the formation, evolution, and death cycle of a variety of different star types.
  • Identify theories related to the origin of life and describe predictors of life on other planets.
  • Describe the physics of light and the electromagnetic spectrum and explain how telescopes can be used to detect and study both

This course has virtual lab assignments and activities.

Course Topics

The Historical Background of AstronomyExamines how ancient peoples used astronomical objects to tell time. Describes the scientific field of astronomy and how astronomy developed in ancient history. Differentiates between models of the universe, and explores the contributions of Kepler, Brahe and Galileo.
The Basics of AstronomyDiscusses the horizon and equatorial coordinate systems and planets of the solar system. Defines precession and the lunar and solar eclipse. Describes the cycle of the seasons in astronomy and important points on the celestial sphere.
The Physics of AstronomyProvides definitions and descriptions of light, photons, the law of universal gravitation and the speed of light.
Understanding Orbits in AstronomyTeaches ways orbits are influenced by gravity and energy, and explains of orbits of the planets, trajectories for celestial objects and differences between circular and escape velocity.
The Earth-Moon SystemExplains Earth’s formation and four spheres, the structure of the atmosphere and the moon’s formation, rocks, motion, atmosphere and phases.
The Solar SystemIntroduces solar nebula theory, the solar system’s layout and characteristics as well as methods for determining its age. Teaches what caused planets to form, and describes planetisimals, the Jovian problem and planetary geology.
The Inner Solar SystemDescribes the inner planets of the solar system and the surface and atmosphere on Mercury, Venus and Mars.
Gaseous Planets in the Solar SystemDiscusses outer planets of the solar system. Explains the properties of Jupiter, characteristics of Saturn and moons and atmosphere of Uranus and Neptune.
Comets, Moons & AsteroidsExamines how satellites are formed, and lists characteristics of asteroids, meteoroids and comets. Identifies moons of the Jovian planets, classifications of meteorites and dwarf planets of the solar system.
Understanding the Science of the SunTeaches about the sun’s structure, atmosphere and life cycle. Defines the photosphere and chromosphere, and discusses sunspots, helioseismology and the heliosphere. Provides details about the solar corona, solar wind, solar flares and solar prominences.
Types of Stars in the UniverseLists types of stars and star clusters, and defines main sequence and binary stars. Describes the planets around distant stars, constellations and zodiac constellations.
Formation & Evolution of StarsDetails how stars form, and provides a description of the interstellar medium. Examines different types of nebulae, young stellar objects and protostellar disks, giant stars and forces keeping stars in a stable equilibrium.
Stellar Death & RemnantsEducates on the definitions of planetary nebulae, white dwarfs, pulsars, cosmic rays, neutron stars and supernova remnants. Explains how lower-main-sequence stars die, and describes the origin of gamma-ray burst and cosmic recycling.
Formation & Structure of the Milky WayOutlines how the Milky Way galaxy formed and it was discovered. Describes the structure and mass of our galaxy, nucleus of a galaxy and differences between population I and II stars.
Properties & Characteristics of GalaxiesIntroduces Hubble’s law and Hubble’s constant, dark matter, quasars and supermassive black holes. Discusses the collision of galaxies and distribution of galaxy properties, and describes types of spiral galaxies and galaxy clusters. Teaches about active galactic nuclei and how to measure the properties of distant galaxies.
Cosmology OverviewShares facts about the origins of the universe, evidence for the Big Bang theory, the cosmological principle, cosmic inflation and three models of the universe. Distinguishes between the observable universe and entire universe, and describes the evolution of the early universe.
Relativity in Space & TimeDefines classical, general and special relativity. Discusses time dilation, space contradiction and the relationship between mass and energy.
Overview of Life in the UniverseExamines the basic nature of life and origin of life on Earth. Examines intelligent life in the universe and planetary predictors of extraterrestrial life. Compares the human lifetime to the lifespan of the universe.
Tools & Instruments for AstronomyDescribes types and limitations of telescopes. Explains how telescopes measure and detect light, and outlines factors that hinder astronomical observations on Earth.