astronomy books

AST 1001/1005/1011H

Exploring Our Universe —  Fall 2018

An introduction to the wonders of the Universe through the eyes and instruments of astronomers.


This course is a scientific exploration of the human place in the Universe, covering everything from the origin and evolution of the Universe to the formation of our Sun and the solar system.

AST 1001/1011H satisfies both Environmental Theme and Physical Science requirements.
AST 1005 does not satisfy any Liberal Arts requirements.

Course Description

This course is a scientific exploration of the human place in the universe. We study the origin and history of the Universe and the formation of the Earth and the solar system. We compare the Earth's properties with those of the other planets and explore how the heavens have influenced human thought and action. This course includes study of the properties of light and matter and the tools astronomers use to measure radiation from celestial sources. The course also covers exciting contemporary topics such as black holes, the expansion of the universe and the search for extraterrestrial life. Although largely descriptive, the course will occasionally require the use of junior-high level mathematics. Lectures are three days a week; on a fourth day each week two hours are spent in small groups working on a lab project. This course is intended for non-science majors; no science background is necessary.

Credit will not be granted if credit has been received for: AST 1005, AST 1011H, 4.0 cr, meets CLE req of Environment Theme; meets CLE req of Physical Science/Lab Core


This course is a scientific exploration of the human place in the universe. We study the origin and history of the Universe and the formation of the Earth and the solar system. We compare the Earth's properties with those of the other planets and explore how the heavens have influenced human thought and action. This course includes study of the properties of light and matter and the tools astronomers use to measure radiation from celestial sources. The course also covers exciting contemporary topics such as black holes, the expansion of the universe and the search for extraterrestrial life. Although largely descriptive, the course will occasionally require the use of junior-high level mathematics. Lectures are two days a week meeting concurrently with AST 1001. This course has no lab associated with it and is intended for non-science majors; no science background is necessary. CSE students should take AST 1011H.

Credit will not be granted if credit has been received for: AST 1001, AST 1011H, 3.0 cr, does not meet any CLE requirements.


This is the honors version (more mathematical) of AST 1001, which is our introductory course in Astronomy and Astrophysics. This course is a scientific exploration of the human place in the universe. We study the origin and history of the universe and the formation of the Earth and the solar system. We compare how the study of the heavens has influence human thought and action. This course includes study of the properties of light and matter and the tools astronomers use to measure radiation from celestial sources. The course also covers exciting contemporary topics such as black holes, the expansion of the universe and the search for extraterrestrial life. Although largely descriptive, the course will occasionally require the use of junior high level mathematics. This course has both a lecture AND lab component.

Credit will not be granted if credit has been received for: AST 1001, AST 1005. 4.0 cr, meets CLE req of Environment Theme; meets CLE req of Physical Science/Lab Core.

Course Syllabi
  • Section 001 (C. Scarlata)   Syllabus  
  • Section 002 (C. Woodward)   —available on Canvas
  • Section 003 (C. Woodward)   —available on Canvas
  • Section 004 (M. Gomer)   — Syllabus  
  • Section H.001 (P. Kelly)   —available on Canvas
  • Scores, Exams, & End-of-Term Grading Notes

    Contact Information

    MN Institute for Astrophysics

    University of Minnesota
    John T. Tate Hall, 116 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455

    P: (612) 624-4811

    E: MIfA@umn.edu