Curriculum Guideline

Introduction to Astronomy

Effective Date:
Course Code
ASTR 1105
Introduction to Astronomy
Science & Technology
Start Date
Not Specified
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

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.

Course Description
This course is designed primarily for students who do not intend to major in science. Topics covered are some 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; Milky Way and galaxies; cosmology. The laboratory component will involve outdoor observations and indoor exercises and computer simulations.
Course Content


  • Discovering the night sky
  • Some astronomy history
  • Properties of light
  • Telescopes
  • Earth-Moon-Sun system
  • Overall solar system
  • Nature of stars
  • Galaxies
  • Cosmology

2. Laboratory

  • Sky charts
  • Night sky observations
  • Image formation via mirrors and lenses
  • Light spectra/wavelength measurements
  • Sunspots
  • Photometry
  • Planetarium/observatory field trip
Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify major contributors and their contributions to the development of astronomy
  2. identify commonly used coordinate systems for viewing the sky
  3. identify major stars and constellations
  4. explain seasons, eclipses, precession, phases of the Moon, tides
  5. identify and explain features of light: wave nature, speed, spectrum, reflection, refraction, Doppler effect
  6. explain operation of and distinction between optical telescopes
  7. identify the various types of bodies in the solar system
  8. explain the evolution of the solar system
  9. identify features on the Moon
  10. compare features of the planets
  11. indicate the peculiarities of asteroids, meteoroids, comets
  12. identify the prominent features of the Sun
  13. explain stellar parallax
  14. distinguish between apparent magnitude and absolute magnitude of stars
  15. explain stars luminosity and the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
  16. explain the current view of birth, life and death of stars
  17. identify types and structures of galaxies and clusters of galaxies
  18. define quasar, pulsar, black hole
  19. explain the current view of the big bang and the expansion of the Universe
Means of Assessment

The final grade for the course will be based on the following components:

  1. final examination – minimum of 30%/maximum of 40%
  2. two tests administered during the semester – minimum of 15% each/maximum of 25% each
  3. submitted laboratory reports – 20%
  4. quizzes, assignments, projects – maximum of 20%
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

N.F. Comins, Discovering the Essential Universe, 2nd Edition, Freeman, 2004


BC Principles of Math 11 (C or higher) or MATH 101