Astronomy

Welcome to the home page for the Astronomy program at West Valley College.

Colorized Moon Image

We'd like to thank the Association of Science - Technology Centers, NASA and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the opportunity to participate in the "Capture the Colorful Cosmos" workshop and to receive a micro-grant.

View astronomical image, such as the one to the right, taken with a robotic telescope with image processing by WVC astronomy students utilizing MicroObservatory.

Questions? Please email Benjamin Mendelsohn

Useful Links For Students


Resources

Required Materials for Laboratory Classes

There are a number of class related materials you will need for this course. With the exception of the star wheel, which is available at the Campus Bookstore, you may pick up these items at Longs Drugs, Walgreens, etc. Basic scientific calculators are less than $20. You do not need a graphing calculator for this class. It just needs to be able to handle scientific notation and calculate logs.

  • Colored Pencils
  • Drawing Compass
  • Metric Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Protractor
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Start Wheel (Planisphere)

These are required materials. Having these materials on hand insures that you can complete the lab assignments within the allotted time period. You must have them with you for every class. If you don’t have them, this will be reflected in a lower laboratory score.

Night Sky Resources

Solar System

Geology

Geology is for explorers, for people interested in their surroundings and in the physical processes that shape the land. Explorers study mountains and valleys, oceans and atmospheres, earth and life through time, and the origins of the universe. Geology is a multidisciplinary science that applies the concepts of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering to the natural world. The multidisciplinary approach is what makes geology exciting and challenging for students with broad scientific interests and curiosity of how natural systems work through time and space. The blend of scientific reasoning and historical perspective gives geologists an important role in society where they can apply their skills to the complex interaction of humans and the natural systems (geologic hazards and natural resources). The exploration of geology is a hands-on discipline that is realized by working with hand specimens in the lab and seeing the earth system through field experience.

At West Valley College, students of geology can choose from a variety of courses offered through the Department of Geology and Department of Oceanography. Many of our courses fulfill the transfer requirements to four-year universities. Students should consult with the university they plan to attend to make sure that all lower division transfer requirements have been fulfilled.

Career Options

Fields of study include:

  • engineering geology
  • environmental geology
  • geobiology
  • geochemistry
  • geophysics
  • hydrogeology
  • oceanography
  • paleontology
  • volcanology

Most job opportunities available to geology graduates are in the private industry of engineering geology (evaluating sites for homes, commercial buildings, highways, tunnels, and other construction), environmental geology (environmental impact studies, evaluation and remediation of contaminated sites), and hydrogeology (development and control of water resources). Geologists are also employed in the discovery and extraction of earth’s natural resources (oil, gas, coal, metallic and non-metallic ores). Government agencies (federal, state, county, and city) also employ geologists at all levels for planning and regulation (inspection and monitoring) activities. A degree in geology is an excellent background for teaching science at the secondary school level.

Highlights

The Geology Department offers:

  • Transferable courses (all courses fully transferable to CSU; all courses except GEOL 2B, GEOL 20, and GEOL 30 fully transferable to UC).
  • Half day and whole day field trips in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions.
  • Course Web Pages and Online Study Guides.

Oceanography

Oceanography is for explorers, for people interested in the ocean environment and in the physical processes that affect the coasts, seafloor, and water column. Oceanographers study volcanoes and sediment, water chemistry and atmospheric gasses, glacial ice and global warming, marine ecology and habitat, earth and life through time, and the origins of the universe. At West Valley College, students can take the multidisciplinary course Oceanography 001, offered through the Department of Oceanography, and can choose from a variety of earth science and biological sciences courses offered through the Department of Geology and the Department of Biology. Oceanography is a multidisciplinary science that applies the concepts of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering to the ocean world. Fields of study include physical oceanography, meteorology, geophysics, geochemistry, glaciology, volcanology, marine biology, environmental geology, and more. The multidisciplinary approach is what makes oceanography exciting and challenging for students with broad scientific interests and curiosity of how the ocean system works. The exploration of oceanography is a hands-on discipline that is best realized by seeing the ocean environment through field experience.

Learning Outcomes

After completing courses in Oceanography, a student will be able to:

  • Describe and explain some of the fundamental insights to the world oceans
  • Solve oceanographic problems quantitatively
  • Describe and explain a number of marine-related environmental issues.

Career Options

Most job opportunities available to oceanography graduates are in physical oceanography: marine geology, ocean engineering, marine chemistry, and marine physics. Most marine geologists work for oil and mineral companies. Marine engineers are needed to design, construct, and maintain offshore oil rigs, ships, and harbor structures. Marine chemists work to figure out ways to stop marine corrosion and to extract chemicals from seawater. Marine biologists have fewer job opportunities. They can be employed at museums, aquariums, and marine theme parks. Some marine biologists work for sanitation districts to monitor waste discharge into the ocean. A degree in oceanography is an excellent background for teaching science at the secondary school level.

Highlights

Oceanography Department Offerings

  • Transferable courses (all Oceanograpy courses are transferable to UC or CSU)
  • Marine Coastal Geology and San Francisco Bay Estuary Field trips
  • Course Web Pages with Online Study Questions

Physical Sciences

Learning Outcomes

  • Apply scientific concepts and methods of inquiry to problems of the physical environment
  • Describe the influence of weather and climate on local and world-wide issues
  • Analyze environmental issues

Physics

last published: 9/7/18