VISTA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA
|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.|
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 first Homework Assignment will be due in class January 29, 2004. If you don't yet have a 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 http://www.astronomynotes.com.
Last night's lecture notes may be found here (powerpoint) or here (html). .
Find out what the goals of last night's lecture were in the What Was Important notes. Some more details are found below.
Last night I handed out the solutions to the exercise from the previous week.
I also brought copies of the handouts from the previous two weeks.
We did a quick recap of the previous week's lecture discussing scale. You can find out more about it in the lecture notes from last week.
We discussed in detail the nature of science. Science is a process, not a collection of facts. We talked at length about how the scientific process works. We also discussed pseudoscience and about how to develop your bullshit detecting abilities.
We also started our discussions of the sky and how to find things in it. We presented a useful model of the sky, called the celestial sphere, and how it can be used to predict the motions of objects in the sky by considering your location on the earth.
We the went out side and looked at the sky. We located the north celestial pole and the celestial equator and discussed how stars would move over the course of a night. I pointed out a few planets and we located several constellations, Orion, Cassiopea, the Big Dipper, Taurus, and the Pleiades.
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 http://www.astronomynotes.com.
If you found your way here but missed the first class, don't despair! You will be a little behind, but you can still catch up. And if you're not yet registered, I will sign your Add Form. It is not my intention to fail students who attend the classes and seriously work on all the homeworks and assignments
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 bn.com or amazon.com.
Weekly "What Was Important"
Archive of Administrative Notes
Sky and Telescope's Observing Page
Web Resources for Each Chapter
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