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ASTR 1020H

This is an archive of the Common Course Outlines prior to fall 2011. The current Common Course Outlines can be found at   
Credit Hours   3   
Course Title   Stellar And Galactic Astronomy (Honors)   
Prerequisite(s)   Exit or exemption from Learning Support mathematics and exit or exemption from Learning Support reading or all ESL requirements except ENSL 0091 and acceptance into the Honors Program/College   
Corequisite(s)   None Specified   
Catalog Description   
The study of the sun and stars, physical properties and evolution, interstellar matter, star clusters, our galaxies, and the origin of the Universe.

This course is ASTR 1020 for honors students.
Expected Educational Results   
As a result of completing this course, the student will be able to:

1. Identify the contributions made to astronomy by the following people: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton;

2. Identify the phases of the moon and their causes;

3. Identify the causes of eclipses;

4. Relate the historical development of man’s view of the universe from the Geocentric Model to modern interpretations;

5. Identify the laws* which describe and govern planetary motion and qualitatively predict the implications of these laws; (*Kepler’s laws and Newton’s law of gravitation)

6. Describe and account for the physical properties of the Earth such as structure, surface features, and the composition and evolution of the atmosphere;

7. Describe the motions of the Earth and relate them to our system of time keeping (daily, monthly, seasonally, and yearly);

8. Compare and contrast the terrestrial and jovian planets including the following:
1.  interior structure,
2.  surface features,
3.  atmospheres,
4.  satellites and rings,
5.  magnetic fields;

9. Identify the planets based on their unique significant properties and describe those properties;

10. Identify the planets based on their unique significant properties and describe those properties;

General Education Outcomes   
This course has primary responsibility for general education outcome number six:

Recognize and apply scientific inquiry in a variety of settings.

It is intended that the course meets this objective in the following ways:

1. Any science class deals inherently with scientific inquiry, by the nature of the course.  This, therefore, will be an underlying theme throughout the course.

2. Coverage of the above specific objectives will give direct instruction toward the  general objectives: 1, 4, 5, 9.

Course Content   
Students will write a research paper of at least five pages with a minimum of six citations and six different sources on an astronomical topic approved by the instructor. Students will present this paper as an oral report to the class.
I. Introduction to Astronomy
A. *Our place in space
B. *The scale of things
C. *The obvious view
D. **The motion of the Sun and stars
E. *Celestial coordinates
F. **The motion of the moon
G. **Eclipses
H. *The measurement of distance
I. **The scientific method

II. The Copernican Revolution
A. *Ancient astronomy
B. *The motion of the planets
C. **The geocentric universe
D. **The heliocentric Model of the solar system
E. **The birth of modern astronomy
F. **Kepler’s laws of planetary motion
G. *Solar system dimensions
H. **Newton’s laws

III. Telescopes
A. *Optical telescopes
B. *Telescope size
C. **High resolution astronomy
D. *Radio astronomy
E. **Interferometry
F. **Other astronomies
G. **Full spectrum coverage

IV. The Solar System
A. *Exploring our planetary system
B. *The overall layout of the solar system
C. **Planetary properties
D. **Terrestrial and jovian planets
E. **Planetary atmospheres
F. *Interplanetary debris
G. **Comparative planetology

V. The Earth -- Moon System
A. **The Earth and Moon in bulk
B. **Lunar surface features
C. **Gravitational deformation
D. **Earth’s atmosphere
F. **Interiors
G. *Magnetospheres
H. **Surface activity
I. **Lunar cratering
J. *Origin of the Moon
K. *Geological history of the Earth -- Moon system

VI. The Terrestrial Planets
A. *The view from Earth
B. **The terrestrial planets in bulk
C. **Rotational rates
D. **Atmospheres
E. **The surface of Mercury
F. **The surface of Venus
G. **The surface of Mars
H. **Internal structure and geological history
I. **Atmospheric evolution on Earth, Venus, and Mars
J. **The moons of Mars

VII. The Jovian Planets
A. *Jupiter and Saturn from Earth
B. *Discoveries of Uranus and Neptune
C. **The jovian planets in bulk
D. **Rotation rates
E. **Rings and moons
F. **Jupiter’s atmosphere
G. **The atmospheres of the outer jovian worlds
H. **Internal heating
I. **Interior structure
J. **Jovian magnetospheres

VIII. Moons, Rings, and Pluto

A **The moons and rings of the outer planets
B. **The Galilean moons of Jupiter
C. **The large moons of Saturn and Neptune
D. **The midsized jovian satellites
E. **Saturn’s spectacular rings
F. **The rings of Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune
G. *The formation of planetary rings
H. *The discovery of Pluto
I. **Pluto in bulk
J. *Pluto’s origin

IX. Interplanetary Debris
A. *Asteroids
B. *Comets
C. *Meteorites
D. *Modeling the origin of the solar system
E. *The condensation theory
F. *The differentiation of the solar system
G. *The role of catastrophes
H. *The angular momentum problem

* Topic which is recommended to be included in the course.
** Topic which is required (by the objectives) to be included in the course.

Assessment of Outcome Objectives   

Assessment of Honors students will place an emphasis on high-level critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.

1. The final course grade will be determined by the course instructor.  The instructor may use (but is not limited to) some or all of the following areas: unit tests, quizzes, homework, or special projects.  A final exam is required and must constitute no less than 25% of the course grade.

2. The final exam is to be comprehensive in nature.  It shall contain questions requiring students to write answers on the basis of the above objectives.


This course will be assessed every five years.  During the assessment quarter, the final exam shall consist of objective-type multiple choice questions.  Construction of these questions will be the responsibility of a college-wide astronomy faculty committee. This committee will meet and review the course in the year prior to the assessment.  This review process will include re-evaluation of assessment instrument - the objective questions on the final exam, review of the quarterly departmental final exams, proposal and adoption of recommendations for curriculum modifications or changes, if necessary.


The results of the final exam questions will be summarized by the Department of Institutional Effectiveness.  The astronomy curriculum committee will meet to discuss the implications of the findings, and to make recommendations for the revision of the course where necessary.  A summary of this analysis along with a time table for implementation will be provided to the division dean.  A follow up report will indicate the success or failure on the implementation of the recommended changes.


Last Revised: Aug. 04, 2011
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