MSU Astronomy Courses
Taught by Dr. James Pierce

101(3) Introduction to Astronomy
Broad survey of astronomy: the night sky, seasons, moon phases, eclipses, light, telescopes, stars, stellar evolution, galaxies, cosmology, the solar system.
General Education Category 3 (Natural Science).
F, S

102(3) Introduction to the Planets
Survey of our solar system: the sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids; history of the discovery and exploration of the solar system.
General Education Category 3 (Natural Science).
F, S

115(2) Life in the Universe
The probability of extraterrestrial intelligent life; the chemical basis of life; planetary environments; stellar habitable zones; the Drake equation; UFOs; space travel; interstellar communication; limits on technical civilizations.
General Education Categories 2 (Critical Thinking) and 3 (Natural Science).
F, S

125(3) Observational Astronomy
Techniques for observing with naked eye, binoculars and small telescopes; constellation and star identification; use of star atlases and handbooks; observations of stars, binaries, cluster, nebulae, etc. Evening observing sessions at Standeford Observatory required.
Pre: AST 101 or consent

201(2) Spherical Astronomy
The celestial sphere; coordinate systems; sidereal and solar time; diurnal motion; precession; proper motion; refraction; aberration; parallax. Requires a background in trigonometry.

215(4) Astronomy and Astrophysics I
Celestial mechanics; gravitational and tidal forces; stellar motions and parallax; radiation and matter; magnitudes and stellar spectra; binary stars and stellar masses; stellar structure and evolution; variable stars.
Pre: MATH 121 and PHYS 221

420/520(3) Stellar Astrophysics
Blackbody radiation; radiative transfer; spectroscopic notation; absorption and emission coefficients; line profiles; analysis of stellar spectra.
Pre: AST 225 and PHYS 222

421/521(3) Stellar Structure
The gaseous state; degenerate matter; equations of stellar structure; polytropes; models of stellar interiors and atmospheres; stellar evolution; nucleosynthesis; stellar endpoints.
Pre: AST 420/520

491/591(2) In-Service: Elementary Astronomy K-6
In this course, designed for K-6 teachers, participants learn basic astronomy concepts (earth, sun, gravity, orbits, seasons, moon phases, eclipses, planets, the night sky, constellations) that are suitable for discussion in the elementary grades. Each participant develops a set of ideas, materials, demonstrations, and activities for use in teaching these concepts in his or her elementary classroom. Text: Elementary Astronomy by Pierce.
Offered on Demand during the school year, usually through Extended Campus

494/594(1) Workshop: Astronomy Concepts, K-6
This course provides the opportunity for grade K-6 teachers to learn basic astronomy concepts and ways to present them in the elementary classroom. Topics covered include common astronomical phenomena such as night and day, seasons, moon phases, eclipses, meteors, comets, planets, stars, and constellations. Group activities, models, demonstrations, and sources of astronomy materials are included. Text: Elementary Astronomy by Pierce.
Offered on Demand during summers, usually through Extended Campus

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Created October 10, 1997; last modified March 20, 2021
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