AST100: Survey of Astronomy

Undergrad course, Franklin & Marshall College, F20, F21

AST100 is an introductory astronomy course intended for students who are not majoring in physics or astronomy. This course presents an introduction to the contents of the Universe, the tools we use to study it, and the intersections of astronomy with social and political questions.

We will discuss constellations, planets, stars, black holes, galaxies, and the Big Bang, as well as the tools that astronomers have used to study these topics over human history. As we learn these concepts, we will develop our ability to understand and explain astronomy through conceptual reasoning, mathematical formulae, and analytical writing. My goals for you in this course are to be able to use these tools to articulate answers to the fundamental questions listed below and to think about how astronomy intersects with a broad spectrum of other human interests.

  1. What do we see in the sky?
  2. How do astronomers study the sky?
  3. How did our Solar System form, and how will it end?
  4. How do we study things we can’t see?
  5. Is there other life in the Universe?
  6. How did the Universe begin, and how will it end?

As we consider the scientific questions above, we will also explore the meta-scientific question of Who Does Astronomy? as we understand the social forces that have shaped the participation and recognition of different people in our field.