MCC ASTRONOMY COURSES

ASTRONOMY 110 - Survey of Astronomy

In order to view and/or access course resources and other materials, you must be registered in one of the course sections offered during the current semester and log in to the UH Laulima Portal.

Course Description

This is a general survey course in astronomy.  This means we will be covering a wide range of topics, from the Earth to the farthest reaches of the observable universe.  To do all of this in just one semester is impossible to do in great detail of course, so we will choose topics that cover the most interesting aspects of our current understanding of the universe.  Some topics we will spend more time and get into greater detail on than others, some topics we won't have time to cover at all.  In order to understand how everything fits together, we will discuss  a broad range of topics ranging from the appearance of the sky, astronomical cycles, observational astronomy and instrumentation, the properties and formation of the solar system, properties of stars and stellar evolution, galaxies, and cosmology. We will also discuss current topics of interest in astronomy.  

The major objective of this course is to help you develop a more cosmic perspective of things.

 

Course Student Learning Outcomes

Three very broad and overarching learning outcomes for this course will be met by expanding upon your knowledge and understanding of the various astronomical cycles that affect the Earth and appearance of the sky and by developing some familiarity with various tools and methodologies used to enhance and broaden our knowledge of the Universe.  Throughout the semester we will build a conceptual framework that will increase your appreciation and understanding of the nature, scope, and evolution of the Universe.  By the end of the course you will be able to:

a.

Explain how astronomical cycles affect our view of the sky

b.

Describe the scientific tools and processes used to understand our place in the cosmos

c.

Describe our understanding of the formation and evolution of the large-scale universe and the interactions of objects within it

Course Competencies and Skills

To meet the major course objective and achieve the desired Student Learning Outcomes. we will discuss a wide range of topics that, upon completion of the course, should allow you to synthesize a wide body of knowledge and information to:

a.

Explain the reason for the daily observed movement of objects in the sky and the significance of the ecliptic

b.

Explain why the Earth experiences seasons and the significance of specific Terrestrial Coordinate locations on the Earth in relation to these seasonal changes  

c.

Explain the phase cycle of the moon, its effect on the Earthís tides, and why we experience lunar and solar eclipses

d.

Describe how distances are determined within the solar system and define the Astronomical Unit and light-year

e.

Explain the relationship between, and significance of distance and time in the Universe

f.

Describe how gravity affects the motions of the Earth, moon, and other solar system objects

g.

Explain how various types of satellite orbits are achieved and describe their purpose and function

h.

Identify the major regions of the electromagnetic spectrum

i.

Define and explain the relationship between wavelength and frequency and how it affects the properties of electromagnetic energy

j.

Describe the various designs for optical telescopes and the advantages and disadvantages of each

k.

Explain the reasons for, and advantages of using space telescopes and adaptive optics in astronomical observations

l.

Explain why astronomers use telescopes that detect electromagnetic energies other than visible light

m.

Describe the significance of spectroscopy in astronomy and the information that can be obtained from an objectís spectrum 

n.

Identify major solar system objects and their characteristics

o.

Describe the solar nebula hypothesis as it relates to the formation of the solar system and the observed properties and characteristics of objects within our solar system

p.

Describe the major features of each planet in the solar system, and explain the reasons for the similarities and differences between the planets

q.

Define solar system debris, describing the properties and characteristics of each

r.

Explain the role impacts have played in the formation and evolution of planets, and on the evolution of life on the Earth

s.

Describe the major methods utilized by astronomers today in discovering and describing planetary systems around other stars

t.

Describe the various methods for determining distances to stars and galaxies and the significance of the cosmic distance ladder

u.

Explain how the H-R diagram is used as an astronomical tool for determining various properties and characteristics of stars

v.

Explain the processes of nuclear fission and fusion, and explain the role nuclear fusion plays in stellar evolution

w.

Describe the major features of the Sun, including the sunspot cycle

x.

Describe the life cycles of stars and explain the difference between white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes 

y.

Describe the major features and properties of the Milky Way Galaxy

z.

Describe the large-scale structure of the universe

aa.

Explain the major features of the Big Bang Theory and the observations that provide support to this theory on the origin of the Universe

bb.

Describe the current theories on the evolution of the Universe and explain the role dark matter and dark energy play in the evolution and fate of the Universe

 

 

ASTRONOMY 110L - Observational Astronomy Lab

In order to view and/or access course resources and other materials, you must be registered in one of the course sections offered during the current semester and log in to the UH Laulima Portal.

Course Description

This course introduces you to methods and instrumentation used in astronomical observations and research.  Astronomical principles will be demonstrated through laboratory and field observations and analysis of astronomical data.  You will gain hands-on experience using instrumentation and software for observations, data collection and analysis, and image processing.

The major objectives of this course are to show how astronomical information is collected, processed, interpreted, and shared with others, to provide hands-on experience using various types of astronomical tools and instrumentation, and to develop observational and analytical skills.  

For interested students, this course will also qualify you to participate in various research and internship projects, where you can receive stipends and other support for your work.

 

Course Student Learning Outcomes

Three very broad and overarching learning outcomes for this lab course will be met by exploring various methodologies and technologies utilized in astronomical observations and data analysis.  By the end of this course students will be able to:

a.

Explain fundamental characteristics of digital images and demonstrate how information is extracted from these images

b.

Describe the tools and techniques used to deduce and understand fundamental properties and characteristics of celestial objects and phenomena

c.

Work both independently and as a member of a team on assigned projects

Course Competencies and Skills

To meet the major course objectives and achieve the desired Student Learning Outcomes students will carry out a variety of lab and observational activities.  These activities complement material presented in the lab manual and class discussions, synthesizing a wide body of knowledge, information, and skills that will allow you to:

a.

Describe the general movements of objects in the sky and the celestial coordinate systems used to specify the positions of objects in the sky.

b.

Use sky charts and/or planetarium software to locate, map, and track objects in the sky.

c.

Explain the characteristics of digital images and describe various methods used in calibrating and processing digital images for astronomical applications.

d.

Utilize information from image headers to determine the pixel scale of an astronomical image and make measurements of select celestial objects in order to determine their size.

e.

Plot graphical relationships from acquired data and analyze and interpret the data using standard techniques in order to determine fundamental characteristics of select celestial objects.

f.

Analyze astronomical images to discover and track moving objects (such as asteroids) in the sky and use the technique of astrometry to determine positions, parallax, and characteristics of motion over time. 

g.

Describe how the technique of photometry is used in astronomy and make photometric measurements on astronomical images containing variable stars and/or star clusters in the image field.

h.

Generate color-magnitude diagrams from photometric measurements and explain how the H-R diagram is used as a tool for determining various properties and characteristics of stars, including distance.

i.

Identify different types of spectra and use reference spectra to determine the temperature and composition of various celestial objects. 

j.

Formulate and/or utilize a basic strategy and plan for an observing project and collect, organize, and analyze the data using techniques learned throughout the course.

k.

Demonstrate the ability to work as a member of a team on an assigned capstone project and contribute to the writing of a detailed lab report describing the techniques and methods used, results obtained, and analysis of the data collected.