Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | PHYS143 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Introduction to Astronomy
IAI CODE(S): P1 906

This course is a one-semester college level course in introductory astronomy. The course explores a broad range of astronomy topics, concepts, and principles, and presents information in four major areas: the night sky, the life cycle of stars, the universe of galaxies, the history of the universe, and the origin, characteristics, and evolution of the solar system. Throughout the course, special emphasis is placed on the scientific evidence that astronomers use to support their conclusions, and how astronomers have come to know what they know about the universe. Presentations via CD-ROM feature leading practitioners, theoreticians, and academics in the fields of astronomy, planetary science, and astrophysics, who describe and explain celestial objects and events. Also presented via CD-ROM You-Tube, NASA links are scientifically accurate three-dimensional animations and computer graphics, as well as inclusion of the latest images from NASA, JPL, Earth-based telescopes, space observatories, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Placement into ENGL101 and MATH111.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe, explain and compare scientific terms in the assigned reading.
  • Describe, compare and restate concepts presented in graphical form or data tables.
  • Use simple mathematical concepts and formula presented in the text to solve problems.
  • Access and use the internet to research and answer questions as needed.
Topic Specific
  • Explain and compare Copernican and Galilean models of astronomy.
  • Explain and restate Kepler’s Three Laws of Planetary Motion.
  • Compare and contrast the physical properties of the earth and the Moon.
  • Compare and contrast the physical properties of the terrestrial planets.
  • Compare and contrast the physical properties of the Jovian planets.
  • Compare and relate moons, dwarf planets, asteroids and comets.
  • Compare and contrast optical and radio telescopes.
  • Compare and contrast infrared and ultraviolet astronomy.
  • Compare and contrast grad-based and space-based astronomy.
  • List the primary components of the solar system.
  • List and discuss the primary steps leading to the formation of the solar system.
  • Name and discuss the component parts of the sun.
  • Compare and contrast the physical properties of different-classed stars.
  • Read and interpret a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram.
  • List the primary steps in star formation.
  • Compare and contrast the death-steps for different class stars.
  • Compare and contrast galaxies and globular clusters.
  • Compare and contrast elliptical and spiral galaxies.
  • Name the steps in determining interstellar distance.
  • State the steps in determining galactic mass.
  • State Hubble’s Law.
  • State the conditions necessary for a planet to be considered in the “water hole.”
  • List, compare and contrast the current techniques used for the search for extraterrestrial life.
  • List the steps necessary to detect extra-solar planets.
Week   Assessment
1 Earths motion and effects

Copernican and Galilean Models of astronomy

Kepler’s laws of motion and Newton’s laws of motion
Test 1
2 Telescopes – includes discussion of telescope design, the electromagnetic spectrum, observation in different wavelengths, ground-based and space-based telescopes Test 2
3 The solar system – includes a discussion of the formation and composition of the solar system as well as comets and asteroids Test 3
4 Earth/Moon System – includes a discussion of the composition, structure and rotational properties of the Earth and Moon, Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic fields Test 4
5 The terrestrial planets – a comparison of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars including orbital and rotational properties, atmospheres and geologies Test 5
6 The jovian planets – a comparison of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune including orbital and rotational properties, atmospheres and composition Test 6
7 Moons, rings and Pluto-like objects – comparison of planetary satellites properties, as well as discussions of rings of planets and discussions about objects beyond Neptune. Test 7
8 The Sun – Includes discussions of composition, nuclear fusion, heat movement, magnetic fields and solar observation Test 8
9 Stellar classifications – includes discussions about size, composition, mass, luminosity, temperature, and the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram Test 9
10 Interstellar medium – includes discussions about composition of nebulae, star formation, and star clusters Test 10
11 Stellar evolution – includes discussion of the evolution of stars according to stellar mass, compares deaths of stars of different mass Test 11
12 The Milky Way galaxy – includes discussion of the composition, shape, and structure of the Milky Way Test 12
13 piral and elliptical Galaxies – includes discussion of Hubble’s constant, active galaxies and dark matter Test 13
14 Large scale structure of the universe – includes discussion about galaxies distribution and interactions Test 14
15 Big Bang – includes discussion about beginning of the universe, expansion and dark energy Test 15
16   Extra Credit
Finals   Final

  1. Unit 1. Astronomy and the Universe
    • The Copernican Revolution
    • Light and Matter
    • Telescopes
  2. Unit 2. Our Planetary System
    • The Solar System
    • Earth and Its Moon
    • The Terrestrial Planets
    • The Jovian Planets
    • Moons, Rings, and Pluto
    • The Deaths of Stars
  3. Unit 3. Stars and Stellar Evolution
    • The Sun
    • Measuring the Stars
    • The Interstellar Medium
    • Stellar Evolution
    • Neutron Stars and Black Holes
  4. Unit 4. Galaxies and Cosmology
    • The Milky Way Galaxy
    • Normal Galaxies
    • Active Galaxies and Quasars
    • Cosmology
    • Life in the Universe

Textbook: Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe, 8th Edition, Chaissen/McMillan, Prentice Hall.

Other: Student reserves material found on CD-ROM & Author's website.

See bookstore website for current book(s) at

The student shall be evaluated on the basis of 15 chapter tests (online) and a comprehensive final exam. At least 60% accuracy is necessary to pass the course.
Chapter Tests
Final Exam
Discussion Board

Grading Scale:

90% and up: = A
80-89% = B
70-79% = C
60-69% = D
59% and below: = F

Current internet resources.

Membership in the DACC community brings both rights and responsibility. As a student at DACC, you are expected to exhibit conduct compatible with the educational mission of the College. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, is not tolerated. A DACC student is also required to abide by the acceptable use policies of copyright and peer-to-peer file sharing. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as contained in the DACC Student Handbook. The Student Handbook is available in the Information Office in Vermilion Hall and online at:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

Fall 2019

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