Astronomy 10 - Solar System Astronomy

Astronomy 10 (Solar System) (3 Units)

CATALOG DESCRIPTION: A Course in descriptive Astronomy with emphasis on the evolution, structure and behavior of the Solar System and its contents (e.g., Sun, planets, comets, asteroids). The conditions that allow for the presence of life from Earth are sought elsewhere in space. The possibility of establishing contact with extraterrestrial intelligence is considered.

TEXT: Selected by Instructor prior to the Fall 1998 semester. The student is responsible for reading and understanding the assigned chapters of the textbook, in addition to any supplemental handouts distributed in the classroom. This includes diagrams, tables, and photographs in addition to text. It is assumed that for a 3-unit course such as this, each student spends a minimum of two (2) hours outside of class studying for each hour spent in the classroom. This means he/she spends at least six (6) hours per week studying for the class. The student is expected to memorize and learn to use the NEW TERMS presented in each chapter prior to arrival in the class in which the TERMS are to be used.


A. The student is shown how astronomical instruments provide the data upon which astronomical theories are based, and actually handles some of the instruments so he/she is able to explain the connection between instrument, data collected, and theory constructed from that data.

B. The student is presented with a short survey of the history of the science of astronomy so that he/she is able to describe the major discoveries and changes in worldview that have led to current theories in Astronomy.

C. The student is presented with the current theories in Astronomy so that she/he is able to explain the processes and/or steps associated with the:

   1. Observations and behavior of Sun.

   2. Evolution of the solar system as part of the origin of Sun.

   3. Unique features of each of the planets, as well as the debris of the solar system (satellites, asteroids, comets).

   4. Search for intelligent life beyond Earth.

   5. Possible colonization of space by humankind.

D. The student is encouraged to develop critical thinking skills so she/he is able to explain the steps by which astronomical observations and experimental evidence are weaved together to formulate the theories discussed in (C) above.

E. The Planetarium is used to demonstrate the methods by which celestial objects and their motions in the sky are defined. This enables the student to explain the positions and/or motions of objects as observed from any location on Earth's surface at any moment of time and on any particular date of the year.

F. Through the use of the Planetarium, the student is encouraged to take an interest in observing the real sky outdoors, and to demonstrate the positions and/or movements of celestial objects during participation at optional public observing sessions (star parties).

G. The student is encouraged to relate the astronomical ideas and topics presented in the classroom to those available in the public domain (newspapers, magazines, TV science programs, Planetarium presentations, lectures, etc.) so that he/she is able to explain the relevance of Astronomy to human culture in general.