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General Education Courses for Non-Majors

The Astronomy Department offers a wide range of courses designed for the non-major interested in learning about the latest advances in Astronomy.  All of these courses satisfy the Legacy General Education (GEL) Natural Sciences - Physical Sciences course requirement.  One of these, Astronomy 1101, also satisfies the GEL Physical Sciences Lab requirement and also the New General Education (GEN) Natural Science requirement.

Please read Which astronomy course should you take? for a detailed description of the scope and intended audiences for each of these courses.

Rocket Engines Firing

Astronomy 1101: From Planets to the Cosmos

Overview of the Copernican revolution, the discovery of the nature of our solar system, light, gravity, and planets around other stars; the nature and evolution of stars and origin of the chemical elements; the history of galaxies and the expanding universe. Weekly laboratory. Not recommended for students who plan to major in astronomy or physics.

Prerequisites: Math 1050 (075) or 102, or an ACT math subscore of 22 or higher that is less than two years old, or Math Placement R or higher; or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit for 1140, 1144, 1161H (H161), 1162H (H162), 2161H, 2162H, 2291 (291), or 2292 (292).

This 4-unit course has a required 1-unit lab section that all students must enroll in.

GEL Natural Science: Physical Science with Lab
GEN Foundation: Natural Sciences

LSST Vera Ruben Observatory Focal Plane with Image of Vera Ruben

Astronomy 1221: Astronomy Data Analysis

Overview of data analysis in astronomy. The course will combine select topics in modern astronomy with contemporary data analysis methods implemented in the Python programming language, illustrating how astronomical data lead to scientific conclusions. It is intended for students with interest in astronomy and analysis of large data sets; prior astronomy experience not required.

Prerequisites or concurrent: Math 1141, 1151, or 1161.

GEL Natural Science: Physical Science course.

Avalanache on Mars

Astronomy 2140: Planets and the Solar System

Physical nature of the Sun and its family of planets, satellites, comets and minor bodies; gravitation, light, and telescopes. Not recommended for students who plan to continue in astronomy or physics.

Kepler 186f a near-Earth sized planet around a red dwarf star

Astronomy 2141: Life in the Universe


Potential for life elsewhere in the universe, based on the discovery of extra-solar planets and the nature of life on Earth; Search strategies for such life.

Super massive black holes inside a galaxy cluster

Astronomy 2142: Black Holes

The nature, formation, and discovery of black holes in the Universe.

Image of a cluster of galaxies

Astronomy 2143: Cosmology: History of the Universe

Description of the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present; how observations led to the discovery of this history.