Introduction to General Astronomy
Instructor: Alex Filippenko
This course provides a sweeping overview of our understanding of the Universe, from our own Solar System, and planets around other stars, to black holes, distant galaxies, the Big Bang and more exotic topics like the Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Gravitational Waves. We will also address the question of whether life can arise elsewhere in the Universe than on Earth. We will use fundamental laws of physics – which we will review as we need them – to make sense of the many phenomena that modern telescopes have revealed. The class will emphasize how our understanding of the cosmos is incomplete and continues to evolve even today; how theories are constantly tested, strengthened, and rejected; and how technology is advancing astronomy. We will apply our understanding to make actual astronomical measurements ranging from the rotation of the Sun to the expansion of the Universe. By the end of the class, you will be able to read a science article in the news and understand the importance of the results well beyond the original short story. Most of all, the class will lead you to ask yourself “Why?” about more of what you see in the Earth and sky.