Astronomy

Astronomy (ASTR)

ASTR 300 Introduction to Astronomy

  • Units:3
  • Hours:54 hours LEC
  • Prerequisite:None.
  • Advisory:MATH 100, 104 or 132 with a grade of “C” or better, AND eligible for ENGRD 310 or ENGRD 312 AND ENGWR 300; OR ESLR 340 AND ESLW 340.
  • Transferable:CSU; UC (ASTR 300, 310 and 320 combined: maximum credit, two courses )
  • General Education:AA/AS Area IV; CSU Area B1; IGETC Area 5A

This course covers topics in modern planetary and stellar astronomy, such as dwarf, jovian, terrestrial, and extrasolar planets and the life cycle of stars, black holes, and supernovae. It also includes topics on cosmology and galactic astronomy, such as dark matter, dark energy, the Big Bang, and the expansion of the Universe.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • evaluate early models of the solar system using the scientific method and outline the historical events that led to our current model.
  • apply theories and models from classical physics and modern physics to explain astronomical observations, such as the motion of objects in the sky, the formation of planets, and the life cycle of stars.
  • classify the planets as terrestrial or jovian and list the characteristics of each category.
  • discuss the discovery of new Kuiper belt objects and how their existence changed our definition of what a planet is.
  • describe how extrasolar planets are detected and discuss their properties.
  • describe the structure of the Sun and its source of energy.
  • explain how astronomers collect light from distant stars and discuss what can be learned from analyzing that light.
  • classify different types of stars and galaxies, and discuss the stellar life cycle in the context of stellar evolution.
  • describe the astronomical evidence for dark matter and dark energy, and discuss their implications.
  • describe the scientific evidence and models regarding the nature and origin of the Universe, including its evolution from the Big Bang up to today.

ASTR 310 The Solar System

  • Units:3
  • Hours:54 hours LEC
  • Prerequisite:None.
  • Advisory:MATH 100, 104 or 132 with a grade of “C” or better, AND eligible for ENGRD 310 or ENGRD 312 AND ENGWR 300; OR ESLR 340 AND ESLW 340.
  • Transferable:CSU; UC (ASTR 300, 310 and 320 combined: maximum credit, two courses )
  • General Education:AA/AS Area IV; CSU Area B1; IGETC Area 5A

This course explores the nature and evolution of the solar system. Topics include the night-time sky, the history of astronomy, the tools of astronomy, and the origins and characteristics of planets, their satellites, and other components of the solar system. Emphasis is placed on how astronomers gain and refine their knowledge of the Universe and interpret the latest results of planetary exploration.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • describe and explain the apparent motion of stars and planets in the night-time sky over the course of a day, a season, and a year.
  • evaluate early models of the solar system using the scientific method, and outline the historical events that led to our current model.
  • apply current scientific theories and models from classical and modern physics to explain astronomical observations, such as the motion of objects in the solar system and the formation and evolution of planets and the Sun.
  • classify the planets as terrestrial or jovian and list the characteristics of each category.
  • describe the role plate tectonics, volcanism, and magnetic fields play in shaping the surfaces, habitability, and other properties of different planetary bodies.
  • identify the larger moons in the solar system and describe what makes them unique.
  • identify other elements of the solar system, such as comets and asteroids; describe their characteristics and what can be learned from them.
  • discuss the discovery of new Kuiper belt objects and how their existence changed our definition of what a planet is.
  • describe how extrasolar planets are detected and discuss their properties.
  • describe the structure of the Sun and its source of energy.

ASTR 320 Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology

  • Units:3
  • Hours:54 hours LEC
  • Prerequisite:None.
  • Advisory:MATH 100, 104 or 132 with a grade of “C” or better, AND eligible for ENGRD 310 or ENGRD 312 AND ENGWR 300; OR ESLR 340 AND ESLW 340.
  • Transferable:CSU; UC (ASTR 300, 310, and 320 combined: maximum credit, two courses; ASTR 320 and 480 combined: maximum credit, one course ASTR 320 and 481 combined: maximum credit, one course)
  • General Education:AA/AS Area IV; CSU Area B1; IGETC Area 5A

This course explores the nature and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the Universe. Topics include the history of astronomy, the tools of astronomy, star classification, stellar evolution, neutron stars, black holes, and the Big Bang. Emphasis is placed on how astronomers gain and refine their knowledge of the Universe and interpret the latest results of space exploration.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • evaluate early models of the Universe using the scientific method and outline the historical events that led to our current model.
  • explain how astronomers collect light from distant stars and discuss what can be learned from analyzing that light.
  • apply theories and models from classical physics and modern physics to explain astronomical observations, such as the formation of black holes, the red-shift of light coming from distant galaxies, and the life cycle of the Sun.
  • classify different star types and discuss their life cycles in the context of stellar evolution.
  • classify galaxies and describe how they formed and evolved.
  • describe the astronomical evidence for dark matter and dark energy, and discuss their implications.
  • discuss the scientific evidence and models regarding the nature and origin of the Universe, including its evolution from the Big Bang up to today.

ASTR 330 Introduction to Astrobiology

  • Units:3
  • Hours:54 hours LEC
  • Prerequisite:None.
  • Advisory:MATH 100, 104 or 132 with a grade of “C” or better, AND eligible for ENGRD 310 or ENGRD 312 AND ENGWR 300; OR ESLR 340 AND ESLW 340.
  • Transferable:CSU; UC (ASTR 300, 310 and 320 combined: maximum credit, two courses)
  • General Education:AA/AS Area IV; CSU Area B1; IGETC Area 5A

This course explores the possibilities of life beyond Earth and what can we learn from terrestrial life forms surviving in extreme conditions. Topics include the origin, biology, and evolution of life on Earth, habitability and interior energy sources of Earth and other planets in the solar system, the likelihood of life existing on other planets or moons within our solar system, attempts to locate life within our solar system, and attempts to communicate with intelligent life in other parts of the galaxy.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • discuss the origin of life on Earth and describe the evidence supporting the current models.
  • describe how plate tectonics, volcanism, the atmosphere, and magnetic fields influenced the evolution of life on different planetary bodies.
  • construct a set of criteria for determining the likelihood of finding life in a particular environment.
  • evaluate the evidence for past microbial life on Mars.
  • discuss the possibility of finding life on other planets or moons in the solar system.
  • assess the chances of communicating successfully with technically advanced civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy.
  • describe the nature of life on Earth: from cells to DNA, Darwinism, and the evolution of species.
  • discuss topics related to astrobiology, such as the Cambrian explosion, mass extinctions, and genetic engineering of artificial life forms.
  • identify different types of extremophiles and discuss how life can exist under such extreme conditions.

ASTR 400 Astronomy Laboratory

  • Units:1
  • Hours:54 hours LAB
  • Prerequisite:None.
  • Corequisite:ASTR 300, 310, 320, or 330
  • Transferable:CSU; UC
  • General Education:CSU Area B3; IGETC Area 5C

This course covers the practical use of a telescope for visual observation of astronomical objects and the analysis of astronomical data. Topics may include constellation identification, stellar spectroscopy, solar and lunar observations, radio-physics and radio-astronomy, image analysis, measuring the properties of stars, and determining the age of the Universe. Night-time on-campus field trips are required.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • set up and align a telescope.
  • locate constellations and deep sky objects in the night sky with the aid of a telescope and star chart.
  • explain the apparent motions of the planets, Sun, and stars.
  • explain eclipses and the phases of the Moon.
  • explain sunspots and the basic functioning of the Sun.
  • analyze astronomical data.
  • list different types of spectra used by astronomers and explain what they reveal about the composition and the temperature of stars.
  • organize data on stellar properties to create a Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram.
  • estimate the age of the Universe based on Hubble’s Law and the Hubble time.

ASTR 481 Honors Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology

  • Units:4
  • Hours:54 hours LEC; 54 hours LAB
  • Prerequisite:Placement into ENGWR 480 through the assessment process.
  • Advisory:MATH 100, 104, or 132 with a grade of "C" or better
  • Transferable:CSU; UC (UC Credit limitation: ASTR 320 and 481 combined: maximum credit, one course)
  • General Education:AA/AS Area IV; CSU Area B1; CSU Area B3; IGETC Area 5A; IGETC Area 5C

This seminar-style course is an in-depth introduction to astronomy, focusing on stars, galaxies, and cosmology. It approaches current topics in astronomy through class discussion and laboratory activities, with an emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving techniques, and conceptual reasoning.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • systematize astronomical conceptual knowledge while evaluating current astronomy theories and observations.
  • discuss modern topics and problems pertaining to stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, cosmology, and related areas.
  • estimate the age of the Universe based on Hubble’s Law and the Hubble time.
  • explain how astronomers collect light from distant stars and discuss what can be learned from analyzing that light.
  • classify different star types and discuss their life cycles in the context of stellar evolution.
  • describe the astronomical evidence for dark matter and dark energy, and discuss their implications.
  • discuss the scientific evidence and models regarding the nature and origin of the Universe, including its evolution from the Big Bang up to today.
  • apply theories and models from classical physics and modern physics to explain astronomical observations, such as the formation of black holes, the red-shift of light coming from distant galaxies, and the life cycle of the Sun.
  • conduct optical and radio telescope observations and data analysis.
  • set up and align a telescope.
  • explain the apparent motions of the planets, Sun, and stars.

ASTR 495 Independent Studies in Astronomy

  • Units:1 - 3
  • Hours:54 - 162 hours LAB
  • Prerequisite:None.
  • Transferable:CSU

Independent Study is an opportunity for the student to extend classroom experience in this subject, while working independently of a formal classroom situation. Independent study is an extension of work offered in a specific class in the college catalog. To be eligible for independent study, students must have completed the basic regular catalog course at American River College. They must also discuss the study with a professor in this subject and secure approval. Only one independent study for each catalog course will be allowed.


Astronomy

Astronomy is part of the general education program at American River College.

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