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.
- Discovering the night sky
- History of astronomy
- Properties of light
- Earth-Moon-Sun system
- Solar system
- Birth, life and death of stars
- Alien Life
- Sky charts
- Night sky observations
- Scale of the solar system
- Image formation via mirrors and lenses
- Light spectra/wavelength measurements
- Planetarium/observatory field trip
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.
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%
Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:
- describe the scientific method, and explain how it is applied to the study of the universe
- identify major paradigm shifts in the historical development of astronomy
- identify major stars, constellations, and commonly used coordinate systems for viewing the sky
- explain the cycles of the sky (Earth, Moon, and Sun system) including: seasons, eclipses, tides, phases of the Moon, and precession
- 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
- identify and explain features and properties of light including: wave-particle duality, speed of light, reflection, refraction, scattering, and the Doppler effect
- explain the appearance of atomic spectra using the Bohr model of the atom
- explain the operation of telescopes
- explain the currently accepted model of the formation and evolution of the solar system
- discuss the characteristics of the various bodies in the solar system
- identify prominent features of the Sun including: sunspots, the solar cycle, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections
- 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
- explain the features of a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram including: luminosity, temperature, radius, apparent magnitude, spectral class and luminosity class
- explain how binary star systems are used to determine the diameter and mass of stars
- 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)
- explain how stars are formed, the role of fusion in energy production, and the evolution of stars as they age
- discuss and explain the death of stars, and the formation of white dwarf stars, neutron stars, and black holes
- 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
- classify galaxies based on their appearance
- 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
- explain the significance of Hubble’s Law
- discuss the likelihood of alien life, and the challenges involved with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
BC Foundations of Math 11 (C or higher) or BC Pre-Calculus 11 (C or higher)
Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:
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.
Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system.
A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.
For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.
If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.