Intro to Astronomy and Astrophysics: Earth's Cosmic Address

Astronomy/astrophysics is one of the fastest advancing fields in physics. Exciting discoveries are being made regularly. Recent discoveries include:

  • The discovery of a subsurface lake of liquid water on Mars (https://www.npr.org/2018/07/25/632222129/underground-lake-found-on-mars-beneath-a-mile-of-ice)
  • Discovery of the exoplanet LHS 1140b which is estimated to be approximately 1.4 times the size of planet earth but seven times its mass and potentially sharing some of earth’s properties. Due to the way it transits, astronomers can study it to identify the molecular composition of its atmosphere and what type of life it could support, if any.
  • Detection of gravitational waves (theorized by Albert Einstein) produced by two neutron stars colliding, which initiates a new era of “multi-messenger astronomy” (https://www.wired.co.uk/article/gravitational-waves-produced-by-neutron-stars-merging-seen-for-the-first-time)

These and many other findings are transforming astronomy, astrophysics and physics. This course provides an advanced introduction to astronomy and astrophysics, which include many applications of the principles of physics. Major topics include:

  • Newtonian gravitation
  • Properties of electromagnetic radiation
  • Earth and the rest of our Solar System
  • Star formation and evolution
  • Extra-solar planets
  • Galaxies and cosmology

Student investigations include questions such as:

  • What causes the seasons on Earth and on Mars?
  • What are the phases of the Moon and why?
  • What is the greenhouse effect?
  • What are comets?
  • How do stars form?
  • How do astronomers detect planets orbiting around other stars?

Exciting lab and/or home extension assignments (depending upon observational conditions) will include observations of the sky and celestial objects.   

Site visits and visiting specialists! The Ti2 team engages area research institutions and industries to help students understand how people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to topics covered in this course.

Learning entry points may include the use of storytelling, fiction and nonfiction literature and art.