Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

CCOG for PHY 123 Winter 2024

View archive version »
Course Number:
PHY 123
Course Title:
Galaxies and Cosmology
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces star clusters, the contents of our galaxy and other galaxies, including active galaxies, and cosmology. 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 utilize as many of the following components as possible:  lecture, discussion, 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 class.

The text and materials for this class 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, and 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

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Use an understanding of our galaxy to contrast and compare it with other galaxies as to type, contents, age, luminosity, motion, and size.
  • Use cosmological models to analyze the size, age, structure, and motion of the universe overall.
  • 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 123 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:  topics may be chosen in any order by the instructor) 

  1. telescopes of various types and designs.
  2. open and globular clusters of stars and main-sequence fitting.
  3. the contents of our galaxy and the local group of galaxies.
  4. the dark matter issue and possible solutions and implications.
  5. clusters of galaxies and large scale structure of the universe, and active galaxies (AGN’s)
  6. Cosmological models, the universal expansion, and parameters including distances and ages.
  7. elementary particle physics and relativity.
  8. Topics in the history of astronomy may be included by the instructor.