ASTR 1141: Introductory Astronomy: The Solar System

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.

Learning outcomes

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 topics

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

Required text and materials

  1. Seeds, M., & Backman, D. (2017). The Solar System (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN : 978-1-337-39993-7
  1. Jayawardhana, R. (2013). Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System. Princeton University Press.
    ISBN: 978-0-691-15807-5


Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

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.



Unit 1

Assignment 1a: APOD 1
(NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day)


Unit 2

Assignment 2a: Space News 1


Test 1 (Units 1 & 2)


Unit 3

Assignment 1b: APOD 2
(NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day)


Assignment 3: Citizen Science Project


Unit 4

Assignment 2b: Space News 2


Assignment 4: Book Report and Quiz


Test 2 (Units 3 & 4)


Unit 5

Assignment 1c: APOD 3
(NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day)


Assignment 5: Observing the Night Sky


Final Exam (mandatory)




Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of your course.

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