Syllabus: Introduction to Astronomy

Prof. Wolfgang H. Berger, Teaching Assistant: Patty Anderson

This on-line course presents an introduction to the field of Astronomy, including the current investigations for life on other planets. This 5 week course consists of 12 lessons. Course topics include modern methods of observational astronomy, an overview of the scientific method, age and origin of the Solar System, descriptions of the planets and discussions of the possibility of life on other planets. All the reading, course material and assessments are on-line, there are no regularly scheduled class meetings: learn where and when you want! Included are printable lecture notes, engaging discussion groups, weekly group assignments and links to additional material. It is an introductory course; there are no prerequisites.

Our courses are self-written, all lecture notes and reading material are available on-line as html documents and printable pdf files. There is no other required text.

Method of Teaching:
This is an on-line course, all course materials are available on-line. Learning methods include printable lecture notes, asyncronous threaded discussions, weekly assignments, on-line short quizzes at the end of each chapter, and links to additional material.

Topical Outline:
The course is 5 weeks; we introduce 2-3 lessons per week for a total of 12 lessons. Each lesson requires about 2 hours to complete Ė including reading, a short assignment, discussion and a quiz.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Upon completion of this course students should be able to describe the Big Bang, explain the age and origin of the Solar System and illustrate differences between Earth and other planets in the Solar System. Importantly, students will have gained the scientific basis to summarize conditions necessary for life and to assess scientific evidence for life on other planets.