2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories

Summer 2012 quarter

Rebecca Chamberlain literature, writing, yoga
Fields of Study
astronomy, education, field studies, literature, philosophy and philosophy of science
Preparatory for studies or careers in
astronomy, education, interpretive work (museums, parks, observatories, outdoor education), scientific research, writing, literature, philosophy, cultural studies, mythology and storytelling 

This intensive course will explore a variety of cosmological concepts from mythology, literature, philosophy, and history, to an introduction to astronomy, archeo-astronomy, and theories about the origins of the universe. We will employ scientific methods of observation, investigation, hands-on activities, and strategies that foster inquiry based learning and engage the imagination. This class is focused on field work, and activities are designed for amateur astronomers and those interested in inquiry based science education as well as those interested in doing observation-based research or in exploring literary, philosophical, cultural, and historical Cosmological traditions.

Students will participate in a variety of activities from telling star-stories under the night sky to working in a computer lab to create educational planetarium programs.  Through readings, lectures, films, workshops, and discussions, participants will deepen their understanding of the principles of astronomy and refine their understanding of the role that cosmology plays in our lives through the stories we tell, the observations we make, and the questions we ask. Students will develop skills and appreciation for the ways we uncover our place in the universe through scientific theories and cultural stories, imagination and intellect, qualitative and quantitative processes, and "hands on" observation.

We will visit Pine Mountain Observatory, and participate in field studies at the 25th Anniversary of the Oregon Star Party.  This year’s celebratory events include a presentation by a Space Shuttle Astronaut and workshops with mentors, scientists, storytellers, and astronomers. We will develop a variety of techniques to enhance our observation skills including use of star-maps and navigation guides to identify objects in the night sky, how to operate 8” and 10” Dobsonian telescopes to find deep space objects, and how to use binoculars and other tools.  We will be camping and doing field work in the high desert for a week.

Supplemental 4-6 Credit Independent Learning Contract (first session):

A few students will have the opportunity to attend an invitational research conference at Pine Mountain Observatory, July. 15-20 (first session).  They must 1) be enrolled in the Astronomy and Cosmology class or have prior experience and 2) work with the instructor to complete an independent study contract prior to the first session of summer quarter.  Since a limited number of students will be able to participate this year, students will be selected based on their background, qualifications, and interests.  Research sessions are still to be determined but may include photometry, astrometry, spectroscopy, or Binary Star Research.  Students must have the ability and interest to camp and do fieldwork in the high dessert for a week.  A planning meeting will be held on campus July 11, 6-10 pm.  Contact the instructor ASAP if you are interested.

Advertised Schedule
2-10p Wed (Aug. 1, 8); one week of field studies (Aug. 13-19); 6-10p Wed (Aug. 22, 29)
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$20 lab fee plus $300 for field study expenses, guest lecturers, and lab supplies
Special Expenses
Students must bring their own camping gear, supplies, food, etc. for camping in the high dessert. 
Offered During
Day and Evening