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Course Description

Might landscape showing part of the Milky Way Galaxy

This course is designed for non-science students. Emphasis will be on the interdisciplinary and contemporary aspects of astronomy with the object of providing a perspective of our place in the physical universe. Topics will include the solar system, stars and stellar evolution, pulsars, black holes, quasars and cosmology. Students are encouraged to suggest and participate in discussion on items of special interest.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  1. Describe the construction of the solar system and how its internal motions are the result of simple laws.
  2. Identify the similarities and differences in the structure of the planets and their satellites and explain some of the things this tells us about the origin of the solar system.
  3. Understand the constitution of stars, their distances, energy source and evolution.
  4. Describe how stars are aggregated into galaxies and how the distribution of galaxies and other entities lead to a cosmological view of the nature and evolution of the universe as a whole.

Course Topics

  • The planets of the solar system and their motions
  • The Sun and the nature of stars
  • The distribution of stars and galaxies
  • The distribution of galaxies and cosmology

Additional Requirements

Restriction(s): Students with standing in any other 1000 level course credit in physics (except (PHYS*1020 or PHYS*1300), PHYS*1810)) may not use this course for credit. B.Sc. students may not take this course for credit.


Assessment Item Weight
Online Mini-Quizzes 20%
Midterm 1 15%
Midterm 2 15%
On Campus Final Exam 50%
Total 100%

*Course details are subject to change.


Enrol Now - Select a section to enrol in

Section Title
Contemporary Astronomy
September 05, 2019 to November 29, 2019
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Domestic Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $683.39 Click here to get more information
International Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $2,504.99 Click here to get more information
Available for Credit
0.5 units
Section Notes

Note:  If you are in a degree program at the University of Guelph, please DO NOT register using the link above.  You must register through WebAdvisor.

Section Materials
  • Textbook (Confirmed) (Mandatory) Discovering the Universe by Neil F. Comins and William J. Kaufman III © 2014 W.H. Freeman and Co. 10th edition ISBN 9781464140860
  • Publishers Access Code (Confirmed) (Optional) Package Option A: Looseleaf textbook plus LaunchPad access card ISBN 978-1464197406
  • Publishers Access Code (Confirmed) (Optional) Package Option B: LaunchPad access card ISBN 978-1464178122
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