History of Astronomy

Course Code: NATS 1745 A 6.0

Instructor's Name: Robin Kingsburgh

Course Description:

This course examines astronomical discoveries, theories and methodologies from pre-historic times up to the present day. We begin with the astronomical knowledge amassed by ancient cultures and civilizations, including those of Neolithic Britain, Egypt, China and Mesoamerica. We then look at how the Ancient Greek view of the cosmos differed from more ancient worldviews, laid the foundations for the development. Astronomy as a science, and was later built upon by Islamic astronomers. We look at key contributions to the Scientific Revolution, by Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton, through to the birth of astrophysics and the development of the science of spectroscopy – the astronomer’s ultimate tool. Continuing up to the present day, we cover important modern discoveries on the life and death of stars (including black holes), new planets beyond our Solar System, galaxies, dark matter, dark energy, and the birth and ultimate fate of our Universe.

Course Format:

Three lecture hours per week.

Course Credit Exclusions:


Mathematical Content:

The astronomy exercises involve making measurements from graphs, using scientific notation and solving simple equations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and exponents. Free one-on-one tutoring is available for students who require help with the mathematical concepts. There will be no calculations on the midterm and final exam.

Course Outlines:

Course Outline Fall/Winter

Archived Course Outline:

Archived Course Outline