General Astronomy

Course Code:

Credit Hours:

Effective beginning:

700, 701


Course Description:
A course designed to aid the student in understanding the relationship between the earth and the universe. The natural structure and theories of the solar system are presented as a background to a discussion of our galaxy and universe. Topics discussed include the earth, the solar system, historical astronomy, constellations, space exploration, theories of the origin of the universe, and the construction of a telescope.


Course Details


Dr. Jeff Bodart


Required textbooks/ course materials:

Discovering the Universe, Neil F. Comins and William J. Kaufmann III, W.H. Freeman and Company, 11th edition, ISBN: 9781319055394.


Assignment/course outline:

See first-day handout.


Discipline-level learning outcomes:

Area 2 - Natural Science: Explore the Nature of Science

The purpose of the study of the natural sciences component in the core curriculum is to enable the student to understand, construct, and evaluate relationships in the natural sciences, and to understand the bases for building and testing scientific theories.

NS-1 Recognize appropriate scientific terminology

NS-2 Apply scientific principles or concepts 

NS-3 Solve real-world problems using scientific knowledge


Course-level learning outcomes:

Course-level student learning outcomesDiscipline-level learning outcomesAssessment methods

Recall the origins of astronomy and the discoveries that led to our present understanding of the universe.

Identify the basic parts of several types of telescopes and how they are used to provide information from the light of a celestial object.

Understand how the motions of the earth, moon and sun affect our perception as observers on the earth.

Summarize physical characteristics of the planets in our solar system and recall the theories that explain the formation of planetary systems.

Describe the formation of stars from interstellar clouds and the stellar remnants associated with a star’s evolution.

NS-1, NS-2, NS-3

NS-1, NS-2, NS-3

NS-1, NS-2, NS-3

NS-1, NS-2, NS-3

NS-1, NS-2, NS-3

Objective Tests, Unit Tests, Quizzes, Projects, Final Exam


Means of accomplishing learning outcomes:

Lecture is the primary method of instruction covering topics primarily from the textbook. The presentation is enhanced by overhead slides, class demonstrations, and board illustrations. Students are responsible for any material contained within the assigned chapters of the textbook, as well as any material covered during lecture. Students should read the text, use the lecture outline PowerPoint’s for in-class notes, and review the online review quizzes in order to prepare for the chapter tests. The students’ understanding of the material and familiarity with the terminology will be assessed using a multiple choice format exam. Assignments completed in and outside of class count toward the semester grade, including a solar system survey project completed outside of class. The department’s Meade LX200GPS telescope is used to illustrate modern GPS computer-guided observational techniques while providing the students an opportunity to view some common astronomical objects.


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