Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories

Summer Open
Class Standing
Rebecca Chamberlain

This program has multiple credit options. Read details on each below: 

8 credits: Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories
Dates: June 27 - July 27 (First Session)
Meeting Times: Tues. 6-10 PM on Zoom; Thurs. 4-11 PM on Campus

Join us for our fourteenth 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.

Students will participate in hybrid studies that include virtual and “in-person” field studies as they develop observation skills online and in the field. On Tuesday nights, we will conduct class and star-finding sessions remotely. On Thursday nights, we will meet in person on campus and will follow astronomy field studies and COVID safety protocols. Students will learn to make naked-eye observations, use binoculars, star maps, and navigation guides, operate Dobsonian reflector telescopes, and use virtual programs to identify objects in the night sky. 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 attend the Oregon Star Party and participate in intensive astronomy field studies during the new moon (July 18-23rd). We will take vans and camp in the rugged high desert for a week. Students will develop their observation skills as they 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 provide their own camping gear. We will organize and return college equipment and gear on Monday, July 24, from 10 AM-12:30 PM) If we are unable to attend OSP due to unexpected circumstances, students will organize an independent study project or field studies. Contact the Instructor for details (

4 credits: Astronomy Research - Group Contract

Dates: Wednesdays, June 28-Aug. 23 (Full session) 
Meeting Times 6-8 PM on Zoom

The Institute for Student Astronomical Research (InStAR) is hosting a 4-credit online contract for Evergreen students who want to participate in an astronomy research group-contract. 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 on Zoom. 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). Students must attend class, complete the InStAR Canvas Course Module, participate in group research meetings outside of class, give a public online presentation of their findings, and work to finalize their paper for publication. Students will work online and remotely with Rachel Freed, Ph.D., Astronomy Education, Russell Genet, Ph.D., Research Advisor. Students must be motivated to work independently, and in teams, and to carry a research project through in the tradition of Evergreen students, faculty, and mentors who have participated since 2009. Students who demonstrate advanced work can earn upper-division credit. Course Fee: $400 (InStAR Registration and text.) 

12 Credits: Combination of 8 and 4 credit sections

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.


Course Reference Numbers
First Session (8): 40014
Full Session (12): 40015
Full Session (4): 40016

Academic Details

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; 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.).


Students have three credit options to choose from:

8 credits, first session: Astronomy and Cosmology: Stars and Stories

4 credits, full session:  Astronomy Research - Group Contract

12 credits, full session: Both the 8 and 4 credit options together


8 Credits = $730 fee covers a Field trip to Oregon and related supplies ($680), and required lab fee($50)

4 Credits = $400 (charge to InStAR for binary star research module and texts)

12 Credits =$1,130 fee covers a Field trip to Oregon and related supplies ($680), a required lab fee($50) and a charge to InStAR for binary star research module and texts ($400) 

Students must bring their own camping gear, supplies, basic food, water, etc. for camping in the rugged high desert of Central Oregon. Contact the instructor for a detailed supply list.

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

Students returning to the program can apply to become a program assistant or teaching assistant.


Hybrid (Su)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Day, Evening, and Weekend
Schedule Details