Unit 1 – Our View of the Cosmos
In Unit One, we will explore the night sky with the naked eye, beginning with a discussion of scale. In astronomy, we look at the Universe at all levels, from the smallest of sub-atomic particles to the largest superclusters of galaxies. Trying to comprehend the range of these scales is challenging, even for seasoned professional astronomers, but we will look at some ways in which we can keep a sense of perspective.
The night sky has been observed and studied by people for centuries without aid of telescopes. We will discover how astronomers in ancient times viewed the night sky, and how their ideas evolved into our modern understanding of our Universe.
This chapter takes you on a tour of the universe in space and time to give you some context—”set the stage and introduce the characters”, some familiar and others quite obscure but still vital to the play.
In this chapter, you will learn where to find the key points on the night sky, how to use the coordinate system that astronomers use, how the Sun’s position among the stars changes and how that affects the temperature throughout the year, and about the phases of the Moon.
This chapter covers the development of western astronomy and modern science. I focus on the rise of modern science in Europe, from the ancient Greeks to Isaac Newton.
Astronomy is a quantitative science, and there will be some arithmetic and algebra. Here is a review of some of the basics skills and methods you will be using throughout the semester.