Astronomy and Cosmologies

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by


Students must have strong Algebra II and trigonometry skills.

We will learn beginning to intermediate astronomy through lectures, discussions, interactive workshops, and observations.  Using naked eye observations, reason, and simple mathematics, the ancients measured the sizes, distances, and motions of the Earth, Moon and Sun. So will we.  Making tools in class that students can take home, we will model heavenly motions, explore the nature of light and spectra, build telescopes, and more.  We will learn about the evolution and structure of our universe and celestial bodies.  We will explore our galaxy and neighboring galaxies using binoculars, telescopes, and planetarium programs. Students will explore a research topic and questions via observations and reading, and will share their learning with others.

We will read about and discuss cosmologies: how people across cultures and throughout history have understood, modeled, and ordered the universe they perceived. We will study stories, literature, and worldviews--from those of ancient peoples to modern writers and astrophysicists. Students will keep observation journals, tell star stories, make star maps, and explore the art and craft of essay writing. They will do substantial teamwork outside class, and will write essays and responses to readings. Students must be willing and able to use the internet for information and online assignments, to work in teams, and to meet after class on clear nights to participate in star-hunts. 

Astronomy is a science.  Algebra II and trigonometry are prerequisite for astronomy.  We will learn physics together, from gravity and electromagnetism to dark matter and energy.  There is no physics prerequisite. 

Program Details

Fields of Study

astronomy environmental studies literature physics writing

Preparatory For

natural sciences, astronomy, physics, mathematics, research, environmental studies, sustainability, teaching, education, public programing, writing, literature, storytelling, mythology, cultural studies, history, and philosophy of science.



Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered

Day and Evening

Advertised Schedule

Mon 6-10pm, Wed 6-10pm, Fri 1-5pm

First class meeting: Monday, April 3 at 6pm (Lecture Hall 4)

Additional Schedule Details

Events Outside of Regular Schedule: Students will need to participate in star hunts outside of class.  Science Carnival/Final Presentations 9a-5p on Friday, June 2nd.  Fieldtrip (TBA)

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online

Special Expenses

Students will need binoculars and a tripod (approximately $200-300).  Students may participate in an optional field trip (approximately $200 for entrance fees, guest speakers, camping, food, etc.).


$80 for entrance fees and equipment to be built and kept by students, e.g. solar motion detectors, light spectra meters; small telescopes, or other observational tools; entrance fees.  


2016-05-11New spring opportunity added.