Discover the Universe

Course:AST 1002
Discover the Universe
GenEd:Physical Sciences (P)
Astronomy Department
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

This course offers a broad overview of modern astronomy. We will examine how observation, experimentation and exploration have led to our present day understanding of the Earth environment and the Universe we live in.

Our goal is to help students gain a physical understanding and an appreciation of the cosmos, and more generally, of the scientific method and how scientific discoveries impact society. Along the way, we will use and practice critical thinking skills and learn how to formulate empirically testable hypotheses.

What topics will we cover?

  • Observing the sky
  • Tools of Astronomy
  • Our solar system
  • The nature and lives of stars
  • The search for extraterrestrial life
  • The nature of our Milky Way Galaxy
  • Properties of other galaxies
  • The origin and fate of the Universe

What are the learing objectives and outcomes?

  • To provide students with a broad overview of modern astronomy. This will be accomplished through weekly videos, reading assignments, interactive animations and discussions. Students will be able to define common astronomical terms and explain basic concepts and theories for a range of astrophysical phenomena.
  • To teach students the scientific process and how we can understand the Universe using basic physical laws derived on Earth. This will be accomplished through weekly discussions and biweekly online projects. These projects guide students through the process of doing scientific research so that students can gain an understanding of how the scientific method is applied to the field of astronomy.
  • To review the major scientific developments in astronomy and summarize their impacts on society and our environment such as recognizing our place in the Universe, comparing energy sources, and how atmospheric effects of planets influence climate change. Students will be able to critically evaluate the difference between good science and bad science. Evaluations will be based on discussions, and weekly quizzes.
  • To teach scientific reasoning. Scientific reasoning is the use of logic, observations, and critical thinking to interpret the world around you. This will be accomplished through discussions and projects. Students will formulate empirically-testable hypotheses derived from the study of physical processes and phenomena and apply logical reasoning skills through scientific criticism and argument. These skills will serve them in their daily lives regardless of what career they pursue.
  • To improve scientific literacy. Literacy in the basic concepts and terminology of science is necessary if they wish to follow science stories in the news or make informed decisions (such as voting) on issues that pertain to science. This will be accomplished through discussions about current news topics in astronomy and as part of the projects.
  • To help students learn to communicate scientific ideas clearly and effectively using written or graphic forms. This will be done through discussions and as the written component of the projects.

Find out more about the course

Current students

Talk to your Academic Advisor to see how this course could fit into your academic plan. We’d love for you to join us in this online learning adventure.

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