Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ancient Astronomy - Fall 2012

Once again, I'd like to advertise a fall semester online course I'm teaching - AST-105-S01 Ancient Astronomy. I developed the course a couple of years ago and it's been very successful.

This course examines 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 Paleolithic times up to the Copernican 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 solstices 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, show you how to make a variety of simple sundials, explain astrolabes (the earliest computers), and ask you to go outside occasionally and look up to get in tune with the sky and how it changes over the course of the semester.
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, by math, however, the BIGGEST predictor of student success is a genuine interest in the topic and it's simple high-school-level math!).

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 (I don't know these things and it depends on a number of different factors), contact the Registrar's Office at SUNY Ulster County Community College. The semester starts on Monday, August 27!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back home & blogging soon

Returned from my mega-road trip last night.  Left the Hudson Valley on June 12, drove to a geology teaching workshop in Seattle on the 26-28 (with camping stops in the Black Hills and Yellowstone among other sites), then out to the Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Ocean for a few days.  Started back on August 1, went through Glacier National Park and, after lots of driving, go home last night, August 10.  Oh, did I mention this was done with my wife and two 11-year-old kids?  Thousands of miles (and a couple thousand dollars) spent and I'm exhausted.  A couple of days of rest and then back to work Monday.

I certainly have lots of material for blog posts in the coming weeks!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Glacier National Park

Spend a little time in Glacier National Park - lots of interesting geology to blog about when I get home later this week.  Here are a couple of pictures (our camera just can't do it justice).

A glacial valley from high on Going to the Sun road

Yours truly at the alpine meadow at Logan Pass

Coming back out of the clouds at East Glacier

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Leaving the Pacific Northwest

Turning point in my mega-road-trip from New York to Seattle and back.  Finished the workshop in Seattle and spent some time on the Olympic Peninsula.  Today (Wednesday, August 1) we left a campsite on Whidby Island on the beautful Puget Sound and started driving east and back to NY (via a scenic route).  Through the North Cascades and tonight is a hotel in Spokane, WA. Tomorrow, and for the next four days, we camp at Glacier National Park.

Cute sign on the road from Forks, WA to La Push beach on the Quileute Reservation.  I know far too much about the Twilight book after a couple of nights in Forks.

In the Hole-in-the-Wall sea arch along Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean

Tidepool starfish and green anemones

Vertically-bedded turbidites on Fourth Beach

Relaxing on a Pacific beach