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Astronomy Course Outline
How is science used to understand the universe?
- What is the nature of astronomy?
- What is the nature of science?
- What are the laws of nature?
- How do we write the large numbers that arise in the study of astronomy?
- What are the consequences of light travel time?
- How is the universe laid out?
- What does the universe look like on the large scale?
- What is the universe of the very small?
- Where do we go from here?
How did astronomy develop?
- What are the main features of the sky?
- What was the basic foundation of ancient astronomy?
- How are astrology and astronomy different?
- How was modern astronomy born?
What are the roles of orbits and gravity?
- What are the laws of planetary motion?
- Why is Newton’s Great Synthesis Important?
- What is the significance of Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation?
- How do different planets and objects orbit in the solar system?
- How can the motions of satellites and spacecraft be altered?
- How does gravity affect the interactions of multiple bodies?
What is the relationship between the Earth, moon, and sky?
- How are the Earth and sky mapped?
- Why do seasons exist?
- How is time measured?
- How have calendars evolved throughout history?
- What are the different phases and motions of the moon?
- What causes tides on Earth?
- What causes lunar and solar eclipses?
What can radiation and spectra tell us about the Sun and other stars?
- What is the composition and behavior of light?
- How is light on the electromagnetic spectrum organized?
- Why is spectroscopy important in astronomy?
- What does the structure of an atom look like?
- How are spectral lines formed?
- What is the Doppler Effect?
How are astronomical instruments used?
- What are the main functions of telescopes?
- How are today’s telescopes different from older versions?
- In what ways are visible-light detectors and instruments used?
- How do radio telescopes work?
- How are observations from outside Earth’s atmosphere made?
- What is the future of large telescopes?
What is the makeup of the solar system?
- How is our planetary system explored?
- What is the composition and structure of different planets?
- How is a planet’s age determined?
- What is the origin of the solar system?
Why is Earth significant as a planet?
- What are the main components that make up Earth?
- What activities occur at the Earth’s crust?
- How are the layers of Earth’s atmosphere different from each other?
- How has life evolved and diversified on Earth?
- How have cosmic influences impacted the Earth’s evolution?
What can we learn from cratered worlds?
- What are the general composition and structural properties of the moon?
- How does the lunar surface explain the Moon’s history?
- How do impact craters form?
- What is the origin of the Moon?
- How is Mercury similar to, and different from, the Moon?
How are Venus and Mars like Earth?
- What are the basic properties of the nearest planets, Mars and Venus?
- What is the geology of Venus like?
- How has the greenhouse effect impacted Venus’s atmosphere?
- What is the geology of Mars like?
- Is there water and life on Mars?
- How does the planetary evolution of Venus, Earth, and Mars compare to one another?
Why are the Giant Planets significant to learning about Earth?
- How do we explore the outer planets?
- What is the basic composition and structure of each of the Giant Planets?
- What are the atmospheres of the giant planets like?
What is the significance of the planetary rings, moons, and Pluto?
- What are the major moons and ring systems of the jovian planets?
- What is known of the Galilean Moons of Jupiter?
- Why are Titan and Triton significant moons?
- What are the major characteristics of Pluto and its large moon, Charon?
- How are planetary rings formed?
How are comets and asteroids formed?
- How do asteroids form?
- What planetary defenses does Earth have against asteroids?
- What are “Long-Haired” Comets?
- How are the origins and fate of comets and related objects determined?
What do cosmic samples tell us about the origin of the solar system?
- Why are meteors visible at night?
- Why do meteorites form?
- What is the formation process of the solar system?
- How does our solar system compare with other planetary systems?
- What factors affect planetary evolution?
In what ways does the sun impact the Earth?
- What is the structure and composition of the Sun?
- Why is the solar cycle important?
- What kind of solar activity occurs above the photosphere?
- How does space weather impact Earth?
Why is the Sun considered a nuclear powerhouse
- What are the different sources of sunshine?
- How do mass, energy, and the Theory of Relativity relate to one another?
- What are the major theories about the solar interior?
- What do we learn about the solar interior from observations?
How do we analyze starlight?
- What factors influence the brightness of stars?
- Why are stars different colors?
- How are spectra classes used to describe and categorize stars?
- How is spectra used to measure stellar radius, composition, and motion?
What do we learn from studying stars?
- What information does our stellar census provide?
- How are stellar masses measured?
- How are the diameters of stars calculated?
- What is the H-R Diagram?
What are celestial distances, and how are they used?
- What are the fundamental units of distance?
- Why do we survey the stars?
- Why are variable stars important to the study of the universe?
- How is the H-R diagram used to calculate cosmic distances?
How do gas and dust behave in space?
- What is interstellar medium?
- How do we identify and observe interstellar gas?
- How can we detect cosmic dust?
- Why is it difficult to study cosmic rays?
- What is the typical life cycle of cosmic material?
- How is interstellar matter arranged around our solar system?
How are stars born and planets discovered outside of the solar system?
- How do stars form?
- How can the H-R diagram be used to study stellar evolution?
- What evidence shows planets form around other stars?
- How do we search for and discover planets beyond the solar system?
- What are we learning from exoplanets?
- What are the new perspectives on planet formation?
How do stars evolve from adolescence to old age?
- What are the different types and compositions of star clusters?
- How do star clusters help us understand stellar evolution?
- How does a H-R diagram relate to a star cluster’s age and evolution?
- What does late stage stellar evolution look like?
- Why do massive stars evolve more rapidly than lower-mass stars?
What factors determine how a star will die?
- What is the death process of low-mass stars?
- What does the death process of massive stars look like?
- What observations have been made about supernovae?
- How are pulsars and neutron stars discovered?
- How do binary star systems evolve?
- What is the mystery surrounding gamma-ray bursts?
Why is understanding black holes and curved spacetimes important in astronomy?
- Why is the theory of general relativity necessary to understand black holes?
- What is the relationship between spacetime and gravity?
- The theory of general relativity is used to conduct what types of tests?
- How are changes of time in space explained by the theory of general relativity?
- Why are black holes significant areas in space?
- What evidence confirms the existence of black holes?
- How are gravitational waves produced and detected?
What do we know about the Milky Way Galaxy?
- What does the architecture of the galaxy look like?
- How did scientists discover the Milky Way’s spiral structure?
- What is the mass of the Milky Way Galaxy?
- What do we know about the center of the galaxy?
- How do we distinguish between different stellar populations in the galaxy?
- How was the galaxy formed?
What do we know about other galaxies?
- How was the existence of other galaxies discovered?
- How many types of galaxies are there?
- What properties characterize different types of galaxies?
- What is the extragalactic distance scale?
- How do we know the universe is expanding?
What is the relationship between active galaxies, quasars, and supermassive black holes?
- How were quasars discovered?
- What are quasars, really?
- Why are quasars considered to be probes of the universe’s evolution?
How do galaxies evolve and distribute over time?
- How do we observe distant galaxies?
- How do galaxies merge with one another?
- How are galaxies distributed throughout space?
- What challenge does dark matter present?
- How did individual galaxies form and evolve to create the current structure of the universe?
What is the Big Bang Theory?
- How do we estimate the age of the universe?
- What do the past, present, and future models of the universe look like?
- How did the universe begin?
- What is the background of the cosmic microwave?
- What is the universe really made of?
- What does the theory of the inflationary universe explain?
- What is the anthropic principle?
What kind of life is found throughout the universe?
- What is the cosmic context for life?
- What is astrobiology?
- How is the search for life beyond Earth being conducted?
- What does the search for extraterrestrial intelligence look like?
Combine this content with our customizable, at-home Astronomy Lab kits from eScience Labs, to create a complete digital learning experience for your students.
Astronomy is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of one- or two-semester introductory astronomy courses. The book begins with relevant scientific fundamentals and progresses through an exploration of the solar system, stars, galaxies, and cosmology. The Astronomy textbook builds student understanding through the use of relevant analogies, clear and non-technical explanations, and rich illustrations.
About the authors:
Senior Contributing Authors
Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College
David Morrison, NASA Ames Research Center
Sidney C. Wolff, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
John Beck, Stanford University
Susan D. Benecchi, Planetary Science Institute
John Bochanski, Rider University
Howard Bond, Pennsylvania State University, Emeritus, Space Telescope Science Institute
Jennifer Carson, Occidental College
Bryan Dunne, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Martin Elvis, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Debra Fischer, Yale University
Heidi Hammel, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
Tori Hoehler, NASA Ames Research Center
Douglas Ingram, Texas Christian University
Steven Kawaler, Iowa State University
Lloyd Knox, University of California, Davis
Mark Krumholz, Australian National University
James Lowenthal, Smith College
Siobahn Morgan, University of Northern Iowa
Daniel Perley, California Institute of Technology
Claire Raftery, National Solar Observatory
Deborah Scherrer, retired, Stanford University
Phillip Scherrer, Stanford University
Sanjoy Som, Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, NASA Ames Research Center
Wes Tobin, Indiana University East
William H. Waller, retired, Tufts University, Rockport (MA) Public Schools
Todd Young, Wayne State College