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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ana M. Larson
ASTR 101
Seattle Campus


Introduction to the universe, with emphasis on conceptual, as contrasted with mathematical, comprehension. Modern theories, observations; ideas concerning nature, evolution of galaxies; quasars, stars, black holes, planets, solar system. Not open for credit to students who have taken ASTR 102 or ASTR 301; not open to upper-division students majoring in physical sciences or engineering. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

We start with the fundamentals needed to grasp astronomy and what astronomers do today: our place in the Universe, gravity and the other 4 forces, light and telescopes. We then move onto a study of our Sun and an appreciation for the power that drives its life-giving energy. Stars are viewed in the context of objects that are born, live, and die. Their characteristics, classification, and unique populations are examined closely, and students will learn why the mass of a star determines everything about its life. When we move onto galaxies, the students will find out that there are many different kinds of galaxies and will examine the various theories that attempt to explain why there is such a variety. As the course closes, the students will learn how the expansion of the Universe leads to the concept of a violent beginning, a start. We examine newly forming galaxies observed at the edge of the observable universe and how we use "look-back time" to trace the evolution of galaxies. The quarter ends with a bang -- the "Big Bang" -- and a discussion of astrobiology and the probability of life elsewhere in the Milky Way.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Interactive lectures plus student-involved sections. The "Course Pak" is required, and may be downloaded from our web page or purchased from the University Book Store. It is to be brought to every class session, lecture and section. NOTE: If you cannot take the final exam at the scheduled day and time, please do not sign up for this course.

Recommended preparation

Review of high school algebra. A desire to learn about our place in the Universe. A willingness to work hard.

Class assignments and grading

Combination of lecture tutorials, understanding worksheets, single concept activities, and multi-leveled exercises.

Exams, exercises, activities, homework, participation

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Ana M. Larson
Date: 10/13/2009