Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ancient Astronomy

I would like to advertise a fall semester online course I'm teaching - AST-105-S01 Ancient Astronomy. I developed the course last year and this is the second time it's run - I think it was very successful last fall and I had a good group of participants.

This course will examine the earliest origins of astronomy, our oldest science. The first half of the course will introduce students to the night sky. Topics covered will include the movements of the Earth and other solar system objects; the phases and cycles of the Moon; the origin of seasons, solstices, equinoxes, and eclipses; constellations and celestial navigation; and how ancient astronomers used their observations in developing civilization’s earliest calendars.

The second half of the course will be a broad survey of the historical development of astronomy from ancient times up to the scientific revolution of the Renaissance Period. Cosmologies from representative cultures around the world will be examined along with significant archaeoastronomy sites including the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, Newgrange, Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, Chaco Canyon, the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, and others.

If you've ever wondered how the phases of the Moon work, how ancient people knew about solistices and equinoxes, what we really know about Stonehenge, or what the Mayan calendar is all about, this course is for you! I'll also introduce you to a cool (and free) planetarium program that will show you what's in the night sky at any time or place) and ask you to go outside occassionally and look up to get in tune with the sky and how it changes.

There are no prerequisites for this course other than being at a college level. If you are a student that requires remedial math and/or English courses, this class would be a challenge (don't be scared off, however, the BIGGEST predictor of student success is a genuine interest in the topic!).

Here's the course outline.

This fully online course is available through the State University of New York SUNY Learning Network and can be taken from anywhere in the world that you have a reliable Internet connection. While you register with my college, you don't have to be a student there to take the class.

For questions about how to register for this SUNY Learning Network online course, or what the tuition and fees will be, contact the Registrar's Office at SUNY Ulster County Community College.  The semester starts next week - August 24!

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