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 homework #2
We did a quick recap of the celectial sphere as a model of how objects in the sky move over the course of the day. You can find out more about it in the lecture notes from last week.
We drew another line on our celestial sphere. The ecliptic is a line defined by the orbit of the earth around the sun (or conversely the apparent motion of the sun with respect to the fixed stars over the course of a year.)
The Earth's equator is tilted with respect to the ecliptic by 23.5 degrees because the Earth's spin axis (the north pole) is not perpendicular to the Earth's orbit. Because of precession, the direction the north pole points makes a slow circle in the sky every 28,000 years.
We also discussed how this tilt causes the seasons we experience. When the pole is tilted toward the sun, we experience summer. Then it is tilted away we experience winter.
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 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
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