Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories

Summer 2022 Full Session
Evening and Weekend
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 20
4 8 12 Credits per quarter
Variable credit options, see below
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Taught by

Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories  (8 credits)

Dates: June 21 - August 4 (Full Session)

Join us for our thirteenth summer of astronomy adventures combined with a study of science, story, and sustainability. We will explore inquiry-based science education (STEAM), archeoastronomy, mythology, literature, philosophy, history, and the world's cosmological traditions. Activities include telling star stories, working with virtual planetarium programs, star-finding and fieldwork, and developing a substantial project.  We will employ qualitative and quantitative methods of observation and investigation, virtual and hands-on activities, and strategies that foster inquiry-based learning and engage the imagination. We will compare scientific and cultural cosmologies, and students will consider basic astrophysics and planetary sciences with guest lecturers. Through writing, reading, lectures, films, workshops, discussions, and presentations, we will cultivate an interdisciplinary study of science, story, and sustainability in the context of comparative mythology, literature, earth and sky sciences, indigenous sciences, and environmental ethics. Participants will deepen 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.

Hybrid Field Studies
Students will participate in virtual and “in-person” field studies as they develop observation skills online and in the field. They will learn to make naked-eye observations, use binoculars, star maps, navigation guides, and operate Dobsonian reflector telescopes and virtual programs to identify objects in the night sky. On Tuesday nights, we will conduct class and star-finding sessions remotely. On Thursday nights, we will meet on campus and will follow COVID safety and social distancing protocols. Students who are not able to attend “in-person” sessions will be given remote options. Students who want to maximize their proficiencies and learning are encouraged to check out binoculars or telescopes and to work on their own outside of class. Students will organize an independent study project or field studies near the new moon the week of July 26-31st. 

Safety modifications include: Following the COVID safety plan for astronomy field studies; wearing masks; spreading out observation sites; checking out telescopes or binoculars for use by individual students; wiping down exposed areas and other methods to sterilize sensitive equipment, and traveling independently to optional field trip locations.  Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.

OPTIONAL FIELD TRIP (or ILC) to the OREGON STAR PARTY: July 26-31 ($570)

Students who are interested in intensive field-studies can go on an OPTIONAL field trip to the Oregon Star Party, in Central Oregon, on July 26-31. We take college vans and will camp in the rugged high-desert for a week. Students will participate in intensive field studies and develop observation skills, use binoculars, star-maps, and navigation guides to identify objects in the night sky, and operate Dobsonian mounted telescopes to find deep space objects. Students must register within the program (or develop and ILC by deadlines), and must pay an additional $570 for expenses. Contact the Instructor for Details (

Astronomy Research - Group Contract  (4 credits)

Dates: June 23-Aug. 17 (Full session)

The Institute for Student Astronomical Research (InStAR) is hosting a 4-credit online contract for Evergreen students who want to participate in astronomy research. Projects can include binary star research, exoplanets, or variable stars. To be successful, students must complete the InStAR online coursework and demonstrate their understanding of scientific and astronomical research methods, and basic concepts of astrophysics. All sessions and learning will be virtual. Students must work as a team to select a binary star or another target, write a proposal, conduct observations with a remotely-located robotic telescope, analyze data, write a peer-reviewed scientific paper for publication in the Journal of Double Star Observations (JDSO), Astronomy, Theory, Observations, and Methods Journal (ATOM), or Robotic Telescope Student Research and Education Journal (RTSRE). They will also give a public online presentation of their findings. Students will work online and remotely with Rachel Freed, Ph.D., Astronomy Education, Russell Genet, Ph.D., Research Advisor, Evergreen faculty, and astronomy mentors and Greener Grads who have successfully completed the program. Students who demonstrate advanced work can earn upper-division credit. Course Fee: $350 (InStAR Registration and text.)


12 Credit Option:

Students are encouraged to take both sections: “Stars and Stories: Astronomy and Cosmology” (8 credits), and “Research Group Contract" (4 credits). This gives students background, experience, and skills in astronomy education, fieldwork, research, writing, and publication, as well as a complex understanding of the relationship between the arts, sciences, humanities, and culture.


Summer 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr - Sr Full Session (12): 40062
Fr - Sr Full Session (8): 40063
Fr - Sr Full Session (4): 40064

Academic details

Preparatory For

astronomy, STEAM education, earth and sky sciences, Indigenous science, scientific research and writing, astronomy field studies;
public programs, outdoor education, leadership, and interpretive work (museums, parks, observatories, schools, etc.);
writing, literature, storytelling, narrative studies, ecocriticism, mythology, folklore, oral history, and the arts;
history, philosophy, cultural studies, sustainability and justice studies, environmental policy, social and environmental ethics, and activism.

Variable Credit Options

Section 1: Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories  (8 credits)
Section 2: Astronomy Research - Group Contract  (4 credits)

Both Sections (12 credits) 

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

4 credits: $350 which includes InStAR registration and texts.

8 credits: $150 for supplies, equipment, and required lab fees. 

12 credits: $500 to cover both fees listed above


Students who participate in the optional field trip will also be charged a $590 fee in addition to fees listed above

Upper Division Science Credit

Astronomy Group Research Contract: Students that demonstrate advanced work in Binary Star Research Methods have the opportunity to earn 2-4 Upper Division Credits.


Time Offered
Evening and Weekend
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting



Date Revision
2022-05-03 Optional Field Trip and Related fees added