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* Astr220: General Astronomy I: The Solar System
* see "General Astronomy I FA??" on Blackboard
* e.g., syllabus 2010
Overview:

Astronomy 220 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. In summary, the course is intended to provide a broad, and to a certain degree quantitative, foundation in astronomy, to help you have a better understanding of what it is to "think like an astronomer."




Course Objectives:

-- understand that we live in a huge universe described by a relatively small number of rules, which we have figured out through scientific inquiry.
-- understand the basic principles and central facts of astrophysics, and their relation to other ideas in the physical and biological sciences.
-- understand how we discovered the important principles and facts of astrophysics, thus understanding key events in the history of science both as events in human history and as case studies in the methods of science.
-- learn important events in the history of astronomy, particularly the development of our understanding of the nature of the Solar System and the discovery of the physical laws that govern its motions, formation history, and evolution.
-- explore how discoveries in astrophysics have implications for how we have come to view our place in the Universe, and by comparing the Earth to other planets in our Solar System provide a physical framework for understanding the possible impacts of our activities on the Earth.


This class will provide the student with sufficient grounding in basic astronomical observing together with an introduction to data analysis techniques that should allow to effectively participate in supervised research experiences with JMU astronomy faculty, for example, preparatory to a senior honors thesis in astronomy.












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