01Intro

Report
ASTR110: Introduction to Astronomy
MWF 11:30-12:20
M02: M 3:30-5:30
M03: T 1:30-3:30
M04: T 3:30-5:30
Professor: Jon Holtzman
TAs: Sten Hasselquist, Laura Mayorga
Plan for today
• Motivation
– Why is astronomy interesting?
– A brief history of the Universe
– Is astronomy relevant?
• Goals for the class
• Class logistics
Why is astronomy interesting?
• A question to think about
What substance (molecule) are people mostly made
of?
A. Fat
B. Water
C. DNA
D. Protein
Answer: here
People are mostly water!
(98% of molecules)
People as atoms
What element are people mostly made of (If you
could count the number of each type of atom in
your body, which one would get the most of)?
A. Hydrogen
B. Carbon
C. Nitrogen
D. Oxygen
E. Iron
Answer: here
Water is H2O, so people are mostly
Hydrogen (63%), then Oxygen (24%)
People by weight
• Different atoms are made up of different numbers of protons and
neutrons, and thus have different masses (protons and neutrons have
about the same mass and electrons hardly count for any mass).
– Hydrogen: 1 proton
– Carbon: 6 protons + 6 neutrons
– Nitrogen: 7 protons + 7 neutrons
– Oxygen: 8 protons + 8 neutrons
What element makes up most of the
mass of people?
A. Hydrogen
B. Carbon
C. Nitrogen
D. Oxygen
E. Iron
Oxygen (>50% of mass!)
Where do we come from?
When were the oxygen atoms in our bodies
assembled (when were the protons, neutrons,
and electrons put together?
A. Within the past day, e.g. from food you ate
B. Within the past century, e.g. when you were born
C. When the Sun and Earth were formed, about 4.5
billion years ago
D. Before the Sun was formed but after the beginning
of the Universe
E. They have existed since the beginning of the
Universe
A (very) brief history of the Universe
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Universe hasn’t always been the same: our Universe “started” about 14 billion
years ago as pure energy
After a few minutes, atoms were formed, but contents were very different:
hydrogen, helium, bit of lithium and beryllium
Early matter formed into stars
– Stars are nuclear reactors: elements are changed into others by nuclear fusion
in their cores, producing energy (light) in the process
– Stars have lives and some, when their lives are done, explode!
Material from inside the star is released and mixes with other gases
New stars are formed
Around many stars some bits are left over and form into planets
On some (at least one!) planets life evolves from the raw material. Through all
different sorts of processes (geological, chemical, biological), atoms are rearranged
in and out of molecules, but not created or destroyed (with just a few exceptions,
namely, radioactivity)
On (at least) one planet, humans come into existence!
– We study the stars
Where do we come from?
When was the oxygen in our bodies assembled into atoms
(when were the protons, neutrons, and electrons put
together?
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
Within the past day, e.g. from food you ate
Within the past century, e.g. when you were born
When the Sun and Earth were formed, about 4.5 billion years
ago
Before the Sun was formed, but after the beginning of the
Universe
They have existed since the beginning of the Universe
Why is astronomy interesting?
• Human connection with astronomy
– We come from stars!
– Humans have used observations of stars
– Humans are affecting astronomical objects
• Astronomy is at an exciting time
• Astronomy is a crossroads science (geology,
chemistry, physics, and math all play a role)
• Telescopes are “time machines” and astronomers
are “time travellers”
• New Mexico is a great place to look at the sky
Is astronomy practical/relevant?
• Certainly, some aspects of astronomy have been relevant
for humans (agriculture, navigation, technology spinoff)
• Things we study may be very relevant (temperature of
Venus, dark energy?)
• Astronomy is a phenomenon in our everyday life (Sun,
Moon, and sky)
• Astronomy is a science, and understanding how science
works is critical to have meaningful impact on issues that
affect humans
• Is curiousity, or even more broadly, non-survival skills,
irrelevant? What’s the purpose of learning/college?
Goals for the class
• NM general education goals, laboratory science
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Describe the process of scientific inquiry
Solve problems scientifically
Communicate scientific information
Apply quantitative analysis to scientific problems
Apply scientific thinking to real world problems
• Question: what do you think about General Education
requirements, in particular the lab science?
– Discuss: does your group have a consensus opinion or not?
– Identify a few key points
– Have someone prepared to present concisely
• My views on general education, and college education in
general
My goals for the class
• Have you come out of class thinking astronomy is more
interesting than when you started
• Get you to be curious about what you see around you:
understand the astronomical phenomena of everyday life
• Communicate some of the interesting things we’ve
learned about our Universe, and especially, how we’ve
learned them
• Understand how science works
Class logistics
• Read the syllabus!
• Class components
– Mon/Wed/Fri classes
– Labs : groups + individual summaries
• TAs: Sten Hasselquist (M02, M04) and Laura Mayorga (M03)
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In class questions / attendance
Online homework: Canvas. Weekly, due Friday class time.
Campus Observatory: twice per semester
Midterms: two
Final
Resources
• Class web page / class notes
http://astronomy.nmsu.edu/holtz/a110
(accessible via Canvas)
• Textbook: none, but we will be consulting
resources on the web. Paper textbooks
available for loan!
• Classmates
• TAs
• Professor
To do
• Homework
– Read the syllabus
– Check out the class web site (accessible via Canvas)
– Learn your directions: north, south, east, west: no matter
where you are, inside or out, be able to get them right
– Do the online assessment on Canvas -- automatic 100% for a
homework assignment; just want to know what you
know/think, don’t look anything up!
• For lab
– Get lab manual: bring $10 to lab
– Clickers will be supplied but if you have an iClicker, bring it

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