ASTR 10, Descriptive Astronomy (V0076)
Spring Semester, 2004
Instructor: Dr. Korpela

Welcome to Astronomy 10!

This course provides an introductory look at the past, present, and future of the universe and its contents: stars, planets, galaxies, and we humans who seek to understand them. Astronomy has repeatedly challenged human thought, from the Copernican revolution to the recent discovery that the universe may be not only expanding, but also accelerating. Spacecraft have visited all of the planets except Pluto, and powerful telescopes take us even farther out in space and back in time. Through this course, I hope that you will gain some sense of the excitement that astronomers feel when they study the sky. Before long, you will be able to amaze your friends with the real story on black holes, the Big Bang, and the search for extraterrestrial life.

COURSE GOALS: Gain an appreciation of our place in the universe, and encourage a sense of awe about the night sky as well as topics in modern astrophysics. Understand what science is and is not, with particular attention to the scientific method as it applies to astronomy. Develop critical thinking and reasoning skills that can be applied to popular science literature.

Contact Info


Important Announcements:


If you haven't been to the website before now, an introduction to its important features can be found in the notes for the first lectures, in the Archive of Administrative Notes. As I said in class, those that can download materials from this site should do so, in order to save on photocopying (and the weight of what I carry!).

The Sky:

Details on Upcoming Dates:

Upcoming exams:

Last Thursday Night's Lecture:

Find out what the goals of last night's lecture were in the What Was Important notes. Some more details are found below.

The lecture notes for this section may be found here (powerpoint) or here (html). Notes for older lectures are here.

This week we talked about how stars are born and die. This is all governed by the balance between pressure and gravity. We also discussed stellar remnanats: white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. The mass of the star determines what the end stages of the life of a star will be.


You may have trouble parking some Thursdays because of the basketball games. Men's games create the most difficulty The schedule for CAL sports may be found here.

If you don't yet have the text, much of the material required for Homework #1 is contained in the handouts, and the remainder can be found in the (different) online textbook at

If you are a little confused, don't panic. It is not my intention to fail students who attend the classes and seriously work on all the homeworks and assignments


This website will be invaluable during this course. Detailed announcements about the course will be posted throughout the semester. If you're interested in the flavour of the course, explore the FUN STUFF below! General information and expectations are available in the Course Syllabus and Policies (see below). You should also note the guideline expected study times contained in Hints on How to Succeed in a College Class.

Course Syllabus


Click the Reload Button on each page for The Latest Updates

TEXT will be The Essential Cosmic Perspective, 2nd College Edition, by Bennett et al.
This should be available from Ned's Campus Textbook Exchange on Bancroft Avenue. You may find a better bargain on line at or


Homework Assignments


Weekly "What Was Important"

In-Class Exercises

Archive of Administrative Notes

Sky and Telescope's Observing Page

Web Resources for Each Chapter

Local Astronomy

Vista Home Page


In addition to the FUN STUFF section below:

Here's a neat online version of The Powers of 10 to remind you of the awesome vastness of space!

Good and Bad Astronomy in Movies Includes "Signs" and "Men In Black II" among others.

If you're interested in the search for planets around other stars, try going here.

The exciting Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence! For more information on the SETI projects, go to the SETI at UC Berkeley website .


Bad Astronomy in the Media (News, Movies, TV!)

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Universe Today (Current Space News from the Internet)

Astronomy Cafe (Website for the Astronomically Disadvantaged)

Take a Virtual Voyage Through the Milky Way

Exploratorium Home Page

Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences

NASA Home Page

This page was last updated on Address questions or comments to