ASTR 1141
Introductory Astronomy: The Solar System

3.0 Credits


This is a general interest introductory course on the history of astronomy and the solar system, and is intended for non-science majors. Topics Include: Telescopes and observing the night sky, ancient astronomy, space exploration, the Earth/Moon system, formation and evolution of the solar system, the planets, minor members of the solar system and the Sun.

Delivery Method





After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe and explain the birth of astronomy.
  • Explain orbits and gravity, the seasons, and eclipses.
  • Describe the phases of the moon.
  • Explain radiation and spectra and their effects.
  • Identify astronomical instruments.
  • Describe the formation of the solar system.
  • Identify and describe the properties of the planets, planetary rings, comets, asteroids, meteorites, and the sun.

Course Outline

Unit 1: Beginning the Cosmic Journey

Unit 2: The Nature of Gravity and Light

Unit 3: Our Solar System and the Search for Exoplanets

Unit 4: The Terrestrial Planets

Unit 5: The Jovian Planets, Asteroids, & Comets

Maximum Completion

30 weeks.

Required Text and Materials

  1. Seeds, M., & Backman, D. The Solar System . 9th ed. Boston, MA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, 2013.
    Type: ISBN : 978-1-305-12076-1
  1. Jayawardhana, R. Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System. Princeton University Press, 2013.
    Type: ISBN: 978-0-691-15807-5

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at start of course.


To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory Final Exam.

Assignment 1: NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) 12%
Assignment 2: Space News 8%
Test 1 (Units 1 & 2) 5%
Assignment 3: Citizen Science Project 10%
Assignment 4: Book Report and Quiz 10%
Test 2 (Units 3 & 4) 5%
Assignment 5: Observing the Night Sky 10%
Final Exam* 40%
Total 100%