David Kobilka
Central Lakes College


Introductory level astronomy. The course focuses not only the science of astronomy but also on how astronomers learn about the night sky. Students spend considerable time with data, both raw (which in astronomy is mostly images) and interpreted in graphs.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Course Context:

This is an introductory-level two-year college course that serves liberal ed science requirements for associate degree seeking students and students of technical programs. It has no pre-requisite.

Course Goals:

The goals for this course are in keeping with the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum and assure that the credits earned in this course can be transferred to any of the 53 Minnesota State Colleges or Universities in the MNSCU system:

In this course students will:

  • Investigate the physical characteristics of the planets in our solar system using the observational techniques of planetary geologists and atmospheric scientists.
  • Apply contemporary techniques of astronomy for the purposes of gathering data, formulating, and testing current hypotheses.
  • Investigate deep sky images for the purpose of testing current hypotheses regarding the origins of the universe.
  • Evaluate the issues faced by our modern, technological society regarding the possibilities of meteorite impacts, extraterrestrial life, and interplanetary travel.

Course Features:

Teaching the Process of Science

In this course students learn about the process of science through:
  • Interpreting data; the students will interpret graphs, tables, images;
  • Data analysis; the students plot data on graphs, analyze and interpret their own data.
  • Making measurements, generate their own data.
  • Working collaboratively, on posters, presentations, and other projects
  • Participating in class poster presentation
  • Developing and presenting a science teaching presentation for elementary school kids
  • Learning about the classic discoveries in the science of astronomy.


Assessments are on-going, constant, and varied:
  • daily write-ups
  • quizzes, exams
  • laboratory reports
  • evaluations of posters and presentations
  • performance evaluations of elementary science teaching project.


Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Roger A. Freedman and Kaufmann, W.J. III. Universe, 8th. 2008. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-8584-6.
I chose this textbook based on:
  • Organization of topics
  • Thoroughness - lots of information boxes and essays by prominent scientists.
  • Introductory level readability
  • Price
I do not use a lab manual.