ASTR 1220: Introduction to the Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

Year offered

This course provides a nonmathematical introduction to the astronomy of the stars, galaxies, and cosmology. It is intended primarily for non-science majors, and the course satisfies three hours of the science area requirement. Topics which are covered include: the night sky; the nature of stars, their formation and life histories; light, atoms, and telescopes; binary stars and gravity; supernovae, white dwarfs, pulsars, neutron stars, and black holes; the structure and formation of the Milky Way, our home galaxy; interstellar matter; the nature of other galaxies and their origins; active galaxies and quasars; the large-scale structure of the Universe; the expanding universe, cosmology, the Big Bang, and the early Universe. The most recent results from space missions will be highlighted.

This is a web page from the Spring 2002 semester. It will be updated before the next time I teach this course.


Class Notes - Viewgraphs


  • Introduction - the Night Sky [Chapt. P,1: pp. 1-24]
  • Stars - Basic Properties [Chapt. 16,18: pp. 338-353,376-393]
  • Light and Telescopes [Chapt. 4,5: pp. 80-127]
  • Gravity and Binary Stars [Chapt. 2: pp. 38-47; Chapt. 17:pp. 354-375]
  • How Stars Work [Chapt. 14,15: pp. 296-337; Chapt. 21: pp. 436-457]
  • Material for Test #1 stops here
  • Love and Death among the Stars [Chapt. 22: pp. 458-479]
  • White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes [Chapt. 23,I: pp. 480-507]
  • The Junk between Stars [Chapt. 19,20: pp. 394-435]
  • Structure and Formation of the Milky Way [Chapt. 24: pp. 508-529]
  • Material for Test #2 stops here
  • Galaxies - Properties [Chapt. 25: pp. 530-540]
  • Galaxies - Social Habits [Chapt. 27: pp. 572-597]
  • Expansion of the Universe [Chapt. 25: pp. 541-549]
  • Quasars and Friends [Chapt. 26: pp. 550-571]
  • Cosmology - The Nature of the Universe [Chapt. 28: pp. 598-611]
  • The Hot Big Bang [Chapt. 28: pp. 612-617]
  • What Does It All Mean? [Chapt. 28: pp. 618-627]


Launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory
Chandra Launch



Websites for more information

Class Handouts


The Center of the Whirlpool Galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope
Whirlpool Galaxy