Astronomy 120 is an introduction to modern astronomy, with an emphasis on the Solar System. The course begins with an exploration of the historical development of astronomy, tracing the path by which we have come to our present understanding of the Universe. Along the way we will build up the basic toolkit of physical concepts that we will need for our later explorations, specifically the nature of light, matter, and gravitation. The second part of the course is devoted to an overview of modern solar system astronomy, with particular emphasis on the constituents of the solar system, comparative planetology (structure, surfaces, \& atmospheres) and the history and evolution of the solar system. We will end by discussing the exciting new discoveries of planets around other stars.
The emphasis will be on a general understanding of the fundamental laws of astronomy and physics. The only mathematics used will be straightforward algebra with a whiff of trigonometry. No prerequisites.
-- understand that we live in a huge universe described by a relatively small number of rules, which we have figured out through scientific inquiry.
-- appreciate how scientific inquiry happens, particularly through the eyes of an astronomer.
-- learn how these rules can help us understand nearly everything that happens in the Universe, and of course, around us, throughout our daily routines.
-- develop a life long interest in promoting science in general, and astronomy in particular.