ASTR 102 Our Solar System and Others

Last offered Spring 2014

What makes Earth different from all the other planets? What has NASA's Curiosity on Mars found about Mars's past running water and suitability for life? What is Pluto? Will asteroids or comets collide with the Earth again? What is a solar eclipse like? Astronomy 102, a non-major, general introduction to the part of contemporary astronomy that comprises the study of the solar system, will provide answers to these questions and more. We will cover the historical development of humanity's understanding of the solar system, examining contributions by Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and others. We will discuss the discovery of over 2000 exoplanets around stars other than the Sun. The course gives special attention to exciting discoveries of the past few years by space probes and by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Kepler mission. We regularly discuss the latest news briefs and developments in astronomy and relate them to the topics covered in the course. This course is independent of, and on the same level as Astronomy 101 (stars and stellar evolution) and 104 (galaxies and cosmology), and students who have taken those courses are welcome. Observing sessions will include use of the 24-inch telescope and other telescopes for nighttime observations of stars, star clusters, planets and their moons, nebulae, and galaxies, as well as use of other telescopes for daytime observations of the Sun.
Class Format: lecture (three hours per week), observing sessions (scattered throughout the semester), afternoon labs (five times per semester), and a planetarium demonstration
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on two hour tests, a final exam, an observing portfolio, and laboratory reports
Additional Info: to be eligible for the Gaudino grade, which stipulates "intellectual presence," a student must demonstrate commitment to engaging the course material in all its aspects: lectures, reading, labs, observing, homework, and exams
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference:
Department Notes: non-major course
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes:
Divisional Attributes: Division III
Other Attributes:
Enrollment Limit: 48
Expected Enrollment: 48
Class Number: 3001
ASTR 102 LEC Our Solar System and Others Division 3: Science and Mathematics Jay M. Pasachoff
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