Astronomy is a detective game: since we can’t visit, touch or sample even the nearest stars, our only means to understand the Universe is to observe its light and radiation from afar, and analyze it using creativity, inspiration, and the laws of physics. This course is a qualitative (i.e. non-mathematical) and inquiry-based exploration of how our observations of the Universe have led to our understanding of it, from the motion of the stars across our sky to the Big Bang and beyond. Topics include the methods and history of scientific discovery, the basic laws of physics, our solar system, the life and death of stars, galaxies, and a brief history of the Universe. Three hours lecture plus three hours lab.
Taught each semester.