What Topics Are Covered in an Introductory Astronomy Course?

An introductory astronomy course covers topics like the sun, stars and the planets. Students taking an introductory astronomy class learn about the physical universe through class lectures and labs. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Introductory Astronomy Class Overview

Many of the students who take an introductory astronomy course are not pursuing a degree in science. Therefore, students do not need an in-depth knowledge of math or physics before taking this type of course. An introductory astronomy course covers topics like:

  • The solar system
  • Black holes
  • The Big Bang theory
  • The universe

Important Facts About Astronomy Studies

Online Availability Fully online courses are available
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent and 3.0 GPA
Common Courses for Astronomy Majors Astrophysics, calculus, computer science, cosmology, electricity and magnetism, physics, planetary geology, star structure, evolution
Possible Careers Cosmologists; planetary, radio, solar and stellar, and galactic and extra-galactic astronomers
Median Salary (2018) $105,680 (for all astronomers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 10% growth (for all astronomers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Lecture Component

Introductory astronomy courses provide a broad survey of these subjects rather than covering topics in detail. Professors teaching introductory astronomy courses often focus on specific aspects of the solar system, galaxy and universe. Students in an introductory astronomy course learn about topics like:

  • Earth's place in the universe
  • The electromagnetic spectrum
  • Movement of the moon and planets
  • Characteristics of the Milky Way

Laboratory Component

Some colleges and universities require students in an introductory astronomy course to complete a laboratory component, which enables students to learn astronomy hands-on by conducting their own experiments. Students required to complete a laboratory component use computers, telescopes, star charts and other technology to learn basic astronomy. Many introductory astronomy courses require students to work in groups during the laboratory classes, which provide students with an opportunity to refine their interpersonal skills. Students enrolled in an astronomy class with a laboratory component usually attend lab once per week.

Astronomy Observations

Some colleges and universities also require students to complete astronomy observations as part of the laboratory component. During these observations, students document different occurrences they see in the sky and try to explain the reason for these occurrences in a short paper.

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