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!).
Homework #2 is due Feb. 12. It will be accepted for half credit until Feb. 19. However there is no class on Feb. 19 so it will need to be delivered to my Vista mailbox or emailed to me.
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 solutions to homework #1
My laptop wasn't working last night so we had an 80's style lecture, complete with drawings on the blackboard. The powerpoint presentation I was going to make is here.
We began last night with a discussion of the history of astronomy, beginning with ancient peoples noticing the phases of the moon and the seasons. We discussed "calendar circles" which were used by people worldwide to time the passage of the seasons. I disussed how the various sight lines on the calendar circle correspond to what we learned last week about the celestial sphere.
We then moved into a discussion of the astronomy of the Greeks (600-200 BCE). Aristarchus and Heraclides developed the first models to try to explain the motions of objects in the sky. Eratotsenes measured the circumference of the by measureing the shadows cast by the sun in different places.
We discussed Ptolemy's heliocentric system with it epicycles and how it explains the retrograde motion of planets and Copperinus's heliocentric system and how it explains retrograde motions.
We talked about Galileo's observation with his telescope, how Kepler developed his 3 laws of planetary motion, and how Newton developed his laws of motion and universal gravite. We also spent a bit of time talking about how gravitation causes the tides.
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