CCOG for PHY 121 Summer 2024

Course Number:
PHY 121
Course Title:
The Solar System
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces the contents of our solar system, including the earth, its moon, the other planets and moons, asteroids, comets, and meteors. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 and (MTH 65 or MTH 98) or equivalent placement. 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 were chosen by the faculty and the viewpoint(s) shall be that of the authors. This includes the topics of relativity, the geologic time scale, and the evolution of the Earth, the solar system, the 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

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Use an understanding of solar system models to explain the motions and phases of astronomical objects visible to the naked eye in the night sky.
  • Use an understanding of our solar system to contrast and compare its planets and moons, and to explain the differences between comets, asteroids, and meteorites.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

PHY 121 delves into the conceptual understanding of the cosmos by acknowledging the role of historical societies in the development of modern science and astronomy, organically discovering our place in the vast cosmos, introducing students to the advancements in technology that made astronomical discoveries possible, adapting the learner toward quantitative reasoning through manipulating mathematical formulas, adapts the learner toward qualitative reasoning through piecing together scientific laws, developing the skill to conceptually organize theoretical knowledge and experiential observation to formulate scientific truths, and appreciating aesthetic properties of celestial events and bodies.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

 (note: the topics may be chosen in any order by the instructor) 

  1. The Earth and our moon.

  2. The other planets and moons in our solar system.

  3. Comets, meteorites, and asteroids.

  4. Detection of other solar systems, and the formation of our solar system and others.

  5. Life in our solar system and possibilities of life elsewhere. (this topic may be covered in Phy 122 and/or Phy 123 at the discretion of the instructor.)

  6. Topics in the history of astronomy may be included by the instructor