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Astronomy Program

Astronomy Program

Astronomy Program


The astronomy program at Mt. SAC takes students on a journey to the stars...or planets, comets, or black holes, among other wonders of the universe. We offer degree applicable courses in introductory astronomy, a survey of the universe, and planetary geology, as well as special projects in astronomy. Plenty of hands on experiences with evening telescope observation sessions, field trips, and research projects exist. The state-of-the-art Randall Planetarium and the new rooftop observation dome are exciting learning labs for astronomy students.  

Courses

    • ASTR 5 Introduction to Astronomy

      3 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU, UC)
      Lecture: 54   
      Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENGL 1A

      An introductory, non-technical survey of the universe. Fundamental concepts and facts of astronomy. Topics include the origin and evolution of planets, stars, and galaxies; results of space exploration and modern cosmology. Enroll in ASTR 5L to receive laboratory science credit. Field trips may be required.

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    • ASTR 5L Astronomical Observing Laboratory

      1 Unit (Degree Applicable, CSU, UC)
      Lab: 54
      Corequisite: ASTR 5 or ASTR 5H or ASTR 7 or ASTR 8 (May have been taken previously)
      Advisory: MATH 51

      Practical experience in astronomy including use of telescopes and demonstrations in the college planetarium. Occasional evening observing sessions with the telescopes and other field trips are required.

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    • ASTR 5H Introduction to Astronomy Honors

      3 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU, UC)
      Lecture: 54   
      Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENGL 1A; Acceptance into the Honors Program

      An honors course designed to provide an enriched experience. An introductory, non-technical survey of the universe. Fundamental concepts and facts of astronomy. Topics include the origin and evolution of planets, stars, and galaxies; results of space exploration and modern cosmology. Enroll in ASTR 5L to receive laboratory science credit. Field trips may be required. Students may not receive credit for both ASTR 5H and ASTR 5.

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    • ASTR 7 Geology of the Solar System

      3 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU, UC)
      Lecture: 54   

      Geological features and evolution in the solar system. Course surveys techniques used to study cratering, tectonic and volcanic activity, weathering, landsliding, erosion, and faulting. Emphasis on solid surfaces other than Earth. Enroll in ASTR 5L to receive lab science credit. Field trips required.

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    • ASTR 8 Introduction to Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

      3 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU, UC)
      Lecture: 54   

      Survey of current astronomical models, structure and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the universe. Field trip(s) required. Enroll in ASTR 5L to receive lab science credit.

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    • ASTR 11 Introduction to Astrophysics

      3 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU, UC)
      Lecture: 54   
      Prerequisite: PHYS 2AG

      Quantitative introduction to astrophysics. Topics include: Kepler's Laws, radiation, stars, stellar evolution, the Milky Way and other galaxies, cosmology, and extrasolar planets. Evening observations required.

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    • ASTR 99 Special Projects     

      2 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU)
      (May be taken for option of letter grade or Pass/No Pass)
      Lab: 108

      In order to offer students recognition for their academic interests and ability, and the opportunity to explore their disciplines to greater depth, the various departments from time to time offer Special Projects courses. The content of each course and the methods of study vary from semester to semester and depend on the particular project under consideration. Student must have instructor's authorization before enrolling in this class. Students who repeat this course will improve skills through further instruction and practice.

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    • ASTR 99A Special Projects in Astronomy Telescope Research    

      2 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU)
      (May be taken for option of letter grade or Pass/No Pass)
      Lab: 108
      Prerequisite: Instructor authorization required.

      This course is designed to give students an authentic research experience to help them make long term career decisions. Students will learn how to operate a telescope properly, take research quality data, process it using astronomy research software, write a professional research paper/poster and present their research. Students will also learn specialized concepts and skills that can help them transfer to an astronomy internship program. Students must regularly attend telescope lab until midnight. Instructor authorization required.

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    • ASTR 99B  Special Projects in Astronomy Astrophotography    

      2 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU)
      (May be taken for option of letter grade or Pass/No Pass)
      Lab: 108
      Advisory: Instruction authorization required.

      Correctly setup and align a telescope as well as use of a DSLR camera to take pictures of the night sky. Techniques in camera settings, filters, stacking, and software processing to get the most of their images. This course includes several overnight field trips to dark sky areas where better images can be taken of the night sky. Instructor authorization required.

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    • ASTR 99C  Special Projects in Astronomy Planetarium    

      2 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU)
      (May be taken for option of letter grade or Pass/No Pass)
      Lab: 108
      Advisory: Instructor authorization required

      Operate and present a planetarium show focusing on presentation planning, public speaking and presenting skills, and technical programming.

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    • ASTR 99D  Special Projects in Astronomy Research    

      2 Units (Degree Applicable, CSU)
      (May be taken for option of letter grade or Pass/No Pass)
      Lab: 108
      Advisory: Instructor authorization required.

      Offers select students opportunities to explore astronomy in greater depth. The content of the course and the methods of study vary from semester to semester and depend on the particular project under consideration. This course is designed for students doing research outside of the college through an internship or other research program. Instructor authorization needed prior to enrollment.

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Resources
A photo of a study group in the library
Planetarium
The Randall Planetarium at Mt. SAC has been serving the community for over 40 years since opening its doors in 1968. The facility is used as an instructional facility (astronomy classes, presentations for local schools) and for public productions that open our remarkable galaxy to the community at large. The Randall Planetarium facility has a 35-foot-diameter hemispherical dome and seats up to 75 persons. 
A group of friends gather in front of building 6
Observatory
Stay tuned! The Mt. SAC Observatory Website is coming soon!