Early Fall Astronomy Class: Astronomy 101: The Basics – September-October 2017


A survey of astronomy. Introduces celestial events that ancients knew well and we can observe and presents their modern explanations. Themes include motions of the Earth and moon, stars, constellations, sun, Zodiac, objects in the Solar System, seasons, nebulae, and galaxies. We’ll also sketch the historical figures and laws of western astronomy.

Sept. 6- Earth, stars, constellations
Hierarchy, distances, sizes of objects in space. Rotation and revolution. Polaris, the North Star. Constellations. Precession.

Sept. 13*- Planets
Orrery. Major and dwarf planets. Retrograde motion. The ecliptic, nebular hypothesis, Zodiac. Bode’s “law”. Thumbnail sketch of each planet.

Sept. 27- The moon
Phases. Eclipses. Tides. Changes to size of disks of sun and moon. Tidal locking. Earthshine. Moon illusion.

Oct. 4- Seasons, Solar System
Units for measurement. Reasons and “equations” for the seasons. Inventory of solar system, including asteroids, meteoroids, comets.

Oct. 11*- Key historical figures
Ancient concepts of the world. Geocentric and heliocentric views. Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Newton.

Oct. 18- Sun, stars, galaxies
Spectra, and what they reveal about stars. Nuclear fusion- the energy source. Structure, equilibrium, and classes of stars. The milky way and the Milky Way. Four types of nebulae. Hubble’s vast new view and the Big Bang.

Time:  classes start at 6:30 PM and go until 8:30 PM.

Location: all classes are held at Cicatelli Center, 505 8th Ave, at 35th St. in Manhattan, 20th Floor (except Sep 13 and Oct 11, which will be held on the 19th floor).

Instructor: David Kiefer
David Kiefer holds various Masters degrees, including a M.S. in astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia.  He has taught physics and astronomy at colleges in New York and New Jersey,  and is presently a lecturer at City College and at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York.  A member of the AAA, Mr. Kiefer observes regularly at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.