Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
PHY 122
Course Title:
Elementary Astronomy
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces stellar astronomy, including our sun, properties of stars, and stellar evolution. Algebra recommended. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course will have as many of the following components as possible:  lectures, discussions, lab activities, telescope viewing session, videos, slides, CD€™s, and computer aided instruction. It is necessary to successfully complete the lab part of the course in order to pass the course.

The text and materials for this course have been chosen by the faculty and the viewpoint shall be that of the author(s). This includes the topics of relativity, the geologic time scale, the evolution of the Earth, our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe.

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations in order to successfully complete this course. 

Intended Outcomes for the course

1) Analyze the formation of our sun and other stars, their properties, and how we are able to interpret the information we receive from radiation from the stars.
2) Use the process of stellar evolution to explain red giants, neutron stars, black holes, and white dwarf stars.
3) Access space science information from a variety of sources, evaluate the quality of this information, and compare this information with current models of astronomical processes identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.
4) Make field based observations and measurements of astronomical phenomena, use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements, and compare the results with current astronomical models identifying areas of
congruence and discrepancy.
5) Assess the contributions of astronomy to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of astronomy in its historical and cultural context

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

 COURSE CONTENT:  (note: the topics may be selected in any order by the instructor) 

  1. Star names, magnitude scales, and topics in the history of astronomy, at the discretion of the instructor.

  2. Our sun , its properties and features, and its history and future.

  3. The electromagnetic spectrum, Doppler effect, and stellar spectra.

  4. Stars and their properties.

  5. The interstellar medium and stellar formation, and brown dwarf objects.

  6. Methods of determining distances to stars.

  7. Color-magnitude diagrams. (including  €œH-R diagrams€)

  8. Stellar evolution, including: red giants, planetary nebulae, neutron stars, black holes, and white dwarf stars.