Astronomy and Cosmologies

Spring/Group Contract
Faculty: E. J. Zita
Enrollment: 24
Prerequisites: Maturity, good thinking skills and facility with algebra. This all-level program will accept up to 25 percent or 6 first-year students.
Faculty Signature: Yes
Special Expenses: $30 for equipment, $200-$300 for binoculars and tripod and $300 for possible field trip to the Southwest.
Internship Possibilities: No
Travel Component: Possible field trip to the Southwest.

Learn beginning-to-intermediate astronomy through lectures, discussions, quantitative reasoning, interactive workshops, and observation, using naked eyes, binoculars and telescopes. Students will build (and take home) learning tools such as celestial spheres and spectrometers, research a topic of interest (in the library and through observations), learn to create a Web page, and share your research with classmates.

We will also seminar on cosmologies: how people across cultures and throughout history have understood, modeled and ordered their universe. We will study creation stories and world views, from those of ancient peoples to modern astrophysicists.

Students are invited to help organize a field trip to clear skies, perhaps to Chaco Canyon.

  • Credit awarded in astronomy, physical science and/or cultural studies of science
  • Total: 16 credits.
  • Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in astronomy, physical sciences, history and philosophy of science.
  • This program is also listed in Scientific Inquiry.
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This program will be taught partly face-to-face and partly via the Internet.  Students will meet with faculty two evenings per week in person, and several times per week with a small team of classmates.  The college's conference server (web-crossing) will be the medium through which we will post our critical comments about the readings.  In addition, we will "seminar" in cyberspace through the use of a chat room, but since we will engage in substantive discussions rather than chat, we will call them seminar rooms.  Students will also be able to communicate with the faculty and with one another via e-mail.

In the first week of class, we will brief you on technical aspects of our "virtual classroom".  At that time, digital photos will also be taken of you for use on the home page and conference server .  If you do not want your photo used, we will not use it.  However, it is one way of making the virtual classroom a bit less impersonal.  For example, your photo would appear next to each of your postings on the course's conference server site.

Please note that this is not a self-paced course.  While you will have some flexibility to fit the required work into your personal weekly schedule, there will be deadlines by which specific academic activities must be completed.  See the schedule.

(Thanks to Jose Gomez for much of the above text.)