Introduction to Astronomy

Science & Technology
Course Code
ASTR 1105
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered


Course Description
This course is an introduction to astronomy designed primarily for students who do not intend to major in science. Topics covered are: astronomy history, celestial sphere, stars and constellations in the night sky, movement of Earth, Moon and Sun, properties of light, telescopes, solar system, life and death of stars, the Milky Way and other galaxies, cosmology, and extra-terrestrial life. The laboratory component will involve outdoor observations and indoor exercises as well as computer simulations.
Course Content

1. Classroom

  • Discovering the night sky
  • History of astronomy
  • Properties of light
  • Telescopes
  • Earth-Moon-Sun system
  • Solar system
  • Birth, life and death of stars
  • Galaxies
  • Cosmology
  • Alien Life

2. Laboratory

  • Sky charts
  • Night sky observations
  • Ellipses
  • Scale of the solar system 
  • Image formation via mirrors and lenses
  • Light spectra/wavelength measurements
  • Sunspots
  • Photometry
  • Planetarium/observatory field trip
Learning Activities

This course will be presented using lectures, assigned readings and laboratory exercises, which will include outside observations.  A variety of audio-visual materials, computer simulations, and internet searches will be used where appropriate.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.

Evaluation will be based on the following:

  • minimum of two tests administered during the semester     30-40%  (15%-25% for each test)
  • submitted laboratory reports                                            20-25%
  • quizzes, assignments (possibly online), projects                 10-20%
  • final examination                                                             30-40%
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

  1. describe the scientific method, and explain how it is applied to the study of the universe
  2. identify major paradigm shifts in the historical development of astronomy
  3. identify major stars, constellations, and commonly used coordinate systems for viewing the sky
  4. explain the cycles of the sky (Earth, Moon, and Sun system) including: seasons, eclipses, tides, phases of the Moon, and precession
  5. state Kepler’s Three Laws, Newton’s Three Laws and Newton’s universal law of gravitation and demonstrate understanding of these laws through the solution of problems
  6. identify and explain features and properties of light including: wave-particle duality, speed of light, reflection, refraction, scattering, and the Doppler effect
  7. explain the appearance of atomic spectra using the Bohr model of the atom
  8. explain the operation of telescopes
  9. explain the currently accepted model of the formation and evolution of the solar system
  10. discuss the characteristics of the various bodies in the solar system
  11. identify prominent features of the Sun including: sunspots, the solar cycle, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections
  12. explain how the spectrum from a star can be used to determine characteristics of the star such as: temperature, composition, size, radial velocity, and rotational speed
  13. explain the features of a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram including: luminosity, temperature, radius, apparent magnitude, spectral class and luminosity class
  14. explain how binary star systems are used to determine the diameter and mass of stars
  15. discuss and explain different methods used to determine distances to stars and galaxies including: stellar parallax, spectroscopic parallax, and standard candles (Cepheid Variables, Type I supernova)
  16. explain how stars are formed, the role of fusion in energy production, and the evolution of stars as they age
  17. discuss and explain the death of stars, and the formation of white dwarf stars, neutron stars, and black holes
  18. discuss the consequences of general relativity near a massive object such as: spaghettification, time dilation, gravitational redshift, and the event horizon of a black hole
  19. classify galaxies based on their appearance
  20. explain the currently accepted model of cosmology including: the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, and the acceleration of the rate of expansion of the universe
  21. explain the significance of Hubble’s Law
  22. discuss the likelihood of alien life, and the challenges involved with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
Textbook Materials

Consult the Douglas College Bookstore for the latest required textbooks and materials. Example textbooks and materials include  

Astronomy by Open Stax and 

Douglas College, Astronomy 1105 Laboratory Experiments



BC Foundations of Math 11 (C or higher) or BC Pre-Calculus 11 (C or higher)


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for ASTR 1105
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO ASTR 101 (4)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU ASTR 107 (4)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU ASTR 1100 (4)
Okanagan College (OC) OC ASTR 111 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU PHYS 190 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ASTR 1140 (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU PHYS 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO ASTR 122 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ASTR 1st (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ASTR 120 (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV PHYS 1XX (4)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC ASTR 1XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023