Courses

ASTRON 0086: Observational Astronomy

Astron 0086
Credits: 3

This course is for students who have a desire to become familiar with the nature and motions of celestial objects in the night sky and techniques to observe them. Each week students meet for two 50 minute lectures on campus and one evening session at Allegheny Observatory. Transportation to the Allegheny Observatory is provided by the University during the Fall and Spring terms. The course will be given at a level suitable for both science and non-science majors who want to learn how to use a telescope and enjoy observational and practical astronomy. The course will make use of existing Observatory facilities. The activities will focus on:

  1. Practical astronomy from the standpoint of understanding the motions of objects in the sky (including constellations versus celestial coordinate systems)
  2. Telescopes and their use
  3. Observational astronomy using a digital CCD camera
  4. The nature of astronomical objects which are observable with the unaided eye or a small telescope.
ProfessorCourse YearCourse SemesterDownload
John Stein 2017-2018FallSyllabus: DL

ASTRON 0087: Basics of Space Flight

Astron 0087
Credits: 3

This is a self-contained course for students not majoring in the physical sciences. Topics covered include overview of the solar system, gravitation and mechanics, the history of space flight, rocket propulsion, the Moon landings, interplanetary trajectories and planetary orbits, light, remote sensing, interstellar space travel and life in the universe. Specific examples of planetary space missions and their scientific instruments, goals and results will be discussed. Particular emphasis will be placed on current missions. At the end of the course the students will have a deeper understanding of space flight, its difficulties, and its inherent dangers. The lectures are based, in part, on a NASA WWW document available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/basics/. It is supplemented by additional WWW material, and notes and material from the instructor. This course fulfills the Physical Science course requirement for School of Arts and Sciences students.

ProfessorCourse YearCourse SemesterDownload
Fernando Salviatto Zago 2017-2018FallSyllabus: DL

ASTRON 0088: Stonehenge to Hubble

Astron 0088
Credits: 3

This is a self-contained course for students not majoring in the physical sciences. Lectures focus on practical astronomy and provide a historical perspective of our place in the Universe. Phenomena that can be readily observed with the unaided eye or a small telescope are discussed. The historical perspective starts with the earliest views, and discusses scientific discovery as a process leading up to the modern idea of the expanding Universe of galaxies. Part of this course includes the requirement of one evening "field trip" to the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory. The purpose of these trips will be to tour the facility and, if possible, make observation with a telescope. On any one evening only a small fraction of the class will make a trip, so it should be possible to accommodate the students' evening schedules. Nominally, the trips will take place on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Bus transportation from the Oakland campus to the Observatory will be provided. A small percentage of the course grade will be based on participation in these field trips.

ProfessorCourse YearCourse SemesterDownload
Jeffrey A Newman 2017-2018FallSyllabus: DL

ASTRON 0088: Stonehenge to Hubble

Astron 0088
Credits: 3

This course is a self-contained historical introduction to astronomy for students not majoring in the physical
sciences. Astronomy is a vast field of study, and it is impossible to even mention all of its major areas in a single
course, so ASTRON 0088 is very general and mostly descriptive in nature. Some of the lectures will make use of
simple arithmetic and geometry because astronomy is a quantitative science. My primary goals are to cultivate
an understanding of the scientific method and an appreciation for critical thought that students can apply well
beyond this course, to develop an interest in astronomy, and to have fun! The course aims to give an historical
perspective of astronomy, beginning with a discussion of the earliest views of the Universe and the role of astronomy
in primitive civilizations. The course proceeds with the development of our current understanding that we live on
a planet in one of many solar systems, on the edge of a galaxy that contains billions of stars, and is but one of a
hundred billion galaxies in the observable Universe. The underlying theme will be the process of scientific discovery
and advancement. Understanding the nature of scientific discovery remains critically important in the world of
today, especially because science is often misrepresented or described incorrectly in the media, popular literature,
and public debate.
 
ProfessorCourse YearCourse SemesterDownload
Carlos Badenes 2016-2017FallSyllabus: DL

ASTRON 0089: Stars, Galaxies, and the Cosmos

Astron 0089
Credits: 3

This is a self-contained course for students not majoring in the physical sciences. The Universe in which we live is a unimaginably vast and rich place that is understandable through the same physical laws that govern our existence here on Earth. By exploring topics from our nearest neighboring stars and their alien worlds to the farthest galaxies newly formed after the Big Bang, this course will engage your mind to better understand our Universe and your everyday world. Through active and engaged participatory lectures, we will observe the cosmos and learn about the birth, life, and death of stars and their mysterious remnants: pulsars and black holes. From studying stars and our own Milky Way Galaxy, we will expand our vision to cosmology and investigate the origin and ultimate fate of the Universe. Part of this course includes an evening field trip to the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory. A percentage of the course grade will be based on participation in these field trips. On any one evening only a small fraction of the class will make a trip, so it should be possible to accommodate students' evening schedules. The purpose of these trips will be to tour the facility and make observations of the night sky with a telescope.

ProfessorCourse YearCourse SemesterDownload
Sandhya Rao 2017-2018FallSyllabus: DL
Sandhya Rao 2017-2018FallSyllabus: DL

ASTRON 0113: Introduction to Astronomy

Astron 0113
Credits: 3

An introduction to the study of the solar system, stars, galaxies, extragalactic objects and the universe at large. Prerequisite: none. This course is intended for students majoring in the natural sciences. Although calculus is not used in this course, algebra and trigonometry are used extensively. Students not majoring in the natural sciences and who are not comfortable with algebra and trigonometry are advised to take the Astronomy 0089 course instead.

PREQ: A "C" or better in one of the following MATH courses (MATH 0032 or 0100 or 0120 or 0125 or 0200 or 0220 or 0235)

 
ProfessorCourse YearCourse SemesterDownload
Rachel Bezanson 2017-2018FallSyllabus: DL