From Planets to the Cosmos
Autumn Semester 2015
Prof. Richard Pogge
Astronomy 1101 is an overview of astronomy, from
our solar system to the universe as a whole. It is a General Education
(GE) Physical Science course in the Natural Science category. The
goals of courses in this category are for students to understand the
principles, theories, and methods of modern science, the relationship
between science and technology, the implications of scientific
discoveries, and the potential of science and technology to address
problems of the contemporary world.
By the end of this course, students should successfully be able to:
0021 Lazenby Hall (1827 Neil Ave)
Astronomy 1101 will meet these expected outcomes by covering three
- Understand the basic facts, principles, theories, and methods of
- Understand key events in the development of science and recognize
that science is an evolving body of knowledge.
- Describe the interdependence of scientific and technological developments.
- Recognize social and philosophical implications of scientific
discoveries and understand the potential of science and technology to
address problems of the contemporary world.
This course attempts to convey a number of the facts that astronomers
and astrophysicists have learned about these topics, to describe the
outstanding scientific problems that are the focus of current
research, to illustrate ways in which physical principles are used to
understand the universe, and to show how scientific theories are
developed and tested against observations.
Among the questions that you should be able to answer by the end of
the course are the following:
- The Long Copernican Revolution
- The nature of our solar system; planetary systems around other
stars; the physics of gravity.
- The Lives of Stars
- The nature and evolution of stars; the origin of the elements; the
physics of light.
- The Cosmos
- The nature and evolution of galaxies; evidence for the Big Bang;
the structure of the universe on its largest scales.
Astronomy 1101 is a 4 credit hour course; each week, there will be 3
hours of lecture and one two-hour laboratory session. For Arts and
Sciences students in a Bachelor of Arts program, this course meets the
Arts and Sciences GE requirement of a natural sciences course that
includes a laboratory component.
- What is the architecture of our solar system, and how do we find other planetary systems?
- What is a star? How do stars form and evolve?
- What is a galaxy? How do galaxies form and evolve?
- What is the evidence for dark matter and dark energy?
- What is the Big Bang?
- What evidence supports or challenges our explanations for the physical nature of stars, galaxies, and the cosmos?
Lectures are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the regular class time.
The lectures, along with the labs and homework assignments, are your
primary source of course content. Exams are based on the lectures and
the lab exercises; there is no assigned textbook for this course. As a
courtesy to your fellow students, silence all electronic devices
during lecture, and keep in mind that videos and animations on your
laptop or tablet are distracting to those seated behind you.
The lab portion of Astronomy 1101 meets once each week for 2
hours. Attendance is mandatory. The primary goal of the labs is to
reinforce the concepts covered in lecture and to introduce
quantitative thinking. All labs start with a half-hour session in the
OSU Slettebak Planetarium (5033 Smith Laboratory) that introduces the
topic for the day's lab. The class then divides into smaller groups
who accompany their TA to their assigned rooms in Smith Lab for the
lab work proper.
Each student is expected to finish their in-class lab write-up before
the end of the session; however, this write-up can be taken home to
use with the homework assignment handed out at the end of each
lab. The write-up and the homework will then be handed in at the start
of the next lab session.
The take-home assignment handed out at the end of each lab session
consists of questions that follow from the laboratory exercises and
the class lectures. Collectively, these assignments will account for
20% of the final grade. Your lowest take-home score will be dropped in
computing the final grade. Late assignments will be accepted only in
case of legitimate, documented emergencies.
We will be using OSU's Carmen
learning management system for this course. This webpage provides
enough basic info to help those not yet registered learn about the
course but who cannot access the Carmen pages.
All of the written materials provided in these web pages are copyrighted by the course instructor, except
as noted. In addition, some images and animations are also
copyrighted by the instructor, while others are copyrighted by the
original sources. These latter appear with the written permission of
the copyright holders. Please read the Copyright Statement before you make copies
of any of these web pages for any purpose. Use of these notes implies
that you have read and understood the copyright statement.
Updated: 2015 August 12
Copyright © Richard W. Pogge. All Rights