General Astronomy 1


This is a lecture course which covers the Universe and its contents.

In my class, after a discussion of traditional astronomy, the Solar System is covered in detail, as it exists now, and as it formed and evolved over time. Next, I cover the nature of the Sun and stars, their current characteristics, birth, life and death, and their distribution throughout space. Finally, the Universe of galaxies is explored, including a discussion of its origin, evolution, and possible fate. In my class, there are no homework assignments other than studying for the exams, and grades are assigned only on the basis of examination results.


104003 – Calculus 1 or equivalent.

114051 – Physics 1


Dr Muhammad Akashi,<

Office: Lidow Complex, Room 606, 972-4-829-5199.

Office hours: TBA, and by appointment.

 Teaching Assistant












A Textbook of General Astronomy – (Illustrated) Kindle Edition by CHARLES YOUNG (Author)


An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics: Pearson New International Edition by Bradley W. Carroll, Dale A. Ostlie



Course Objectives


  • -Students will Become familiar with the appearance of a range of common astronomical objects, such as asteroids, comets, satellites, planets, stars, and galaxies.


  • -Students will Understand that on every size scale, the Universe contains a large number of objects with similar properties.


  • -Students will Become comfortable estimating the lengths of astronomically relevant events over a large range of times, from the very short (atomic transitions, passage of light from the Moon to Earth) to the very long (time for light from distant quasars to reach Earth).



Course Topics


Week 1: Positional Astronomy (naked-eye Astronomy) We will spend our first week familiarizing ourselves with descriptions of the positions and motions of celestial objects.


Weeks 2-3: Newton’s Universe


Newtonian physics revolutionized the way we understand our Universe.

We will discuss Newton’s laws of mechanics, the conservation laws that follow from them, his theory of gravity and some applications to Astronomy, as well as some properties of radiation.  The last clip will be a quick look at the features of quantum mechanics relevant to our course.  This will be a particularly busy and challenging unit, but hard work here will pay off later.


Week 4: Planets


We will not have time in this course to do justice to the broad and exciting field of planetary science.  We will spend the week on a general review of the properties and structure of our Solar System and our understanding of its origins and history. We will end with some

discussion of the exciting discoveries over the past decade of many hundreds of extrasolar planets.


Week 5-6: Stars


What we know about stars and a bit about how we found out. We will begin with a quick review of the best-studied star of all, our Sun. We will then talk about classifications; H-R diagrams and main sequence stars; distance, mass, and size measurements; binaries;

clusters; and stellar evolution through the main sequence.


Week 7: Post-Main-Sequence Stars


Final stages of stellar evolution and stellar remnants. Giants, white dwarfs, novae, variable stars, supernovae, neutron stars and pulsars.


Week 8-9: Relativity and Black Holes


We will spend most of this week acquiring an understanding of the special theory of relativity.  We will then discuss the general theory in a qualitative way, and discuss its application to black holes, gravitational lensing, and other phenomena of interest.



Week 10: Galaxies


Galactic structure and classification.  Active galactic nuclei, quasars and blazars.  Galactic rotation curves and dark matter. Galaxy clusters and large-scale structure.


Weeks 11-13: Cosmology


What we can say about the universe as a whole.  Hubble Expansion. Big bang cosmology. The cosmic microwave background.  Recent determination of cosmological parameters.  Early universe physics.



Course Expectations & Grading


Final Exam – 100%


Key Dates


The final exam will be scheduled at the end of the semester.



The strength of the university depends on academic and personal integrity. In this course, you must be honest and truthful. Ethical violations include cheating on exams, plagiarism, reuse of assignments, improper use of the Internet and electronic devices, unauthorized collaboration, alteration of graded assignments, forgery and falsification, lying, facilitating academic dishonesty, and unfair competition.


ABET Outcomes


Ability to apply mathematics and science principles (a).


Ability to identify, formulate and solve scientific problems (b).


Understanding of professional and ethical responsibility (c).


Ability to communicate effectively (d).


Recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in

life-long learning (e).


Knowledge of contemporary issues (f).