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Feb 24

Astronomy 102: Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos

February 24 @ 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM EST

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 7:30 PM on Thursday, repeating until March 17, 2022


Registration now closed

Thursdays, 7:30-9:30 PM. Feb. 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10, 17, 2022.  Online via Zoom.

Astronomy 102 explores the universe beyond the Solar System. We discuss how and when the universe began, the formation of stars and galaxies, its expansion, and probable future.  We study how astronomers measure great distances and how stars generate their tremendous energies.  We will explore how elements are produced in stars, the structure and types of galaxies, and exotic objects like neutron stars and black holes.


This course is a sequel to but independent of Astronomy 101: the Solar System. It can be taken without previously taking “101”. After classes end, for anyone able to stick around and weather permitting we will do live observing (via: Zoom) using the instructor’s computer controlled telescopes and cameras to observe things discussed in classes.

February 10 – Understanding the Scale of the Universe
From Ptolemy’s geocentric to Copernicus heliocentric world. Kepler, Newton and the triumph of math, Le Verrier’s Neptune, and the use of parallax to measure distance. View of the Universe prior to 1920 and ‘spiral nebulae’. Shapley / Curtis debate, Hubble, super novae, dark matter/energy. The Astronomer’s ruler: AUs, light years, parsecs. Could the universe be infinite?

February 17 – Some Physics and tools of the trade
Telescopes, big and small. The nature of light and electromagnetic radiation. Spectroscopy, radio astronomy, high energy astronomy and some future missions. Inverse square law, Magnitude and luminosity. Real science that amateur astronomers can do today like determine the shape of near-earth asteroids, measure the distance to a quasar, detect exoplanets.

February 24 – Stars: The building blocks of the Universe
We examine the source of energy in stars. How is a star born? The Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram for describing and classifying stars is studied. Where does our sun fit into all this and why was Carl Sagan right when he said that we are all made of “Star stuff” ? The death of stars: the long boring goodbyes for small stars contrasted to the violent destruction of giant stars and the formation of black holes.

March 3 – Galaxies
What are galaxies? What is shape of the Milky Way and why does it look like a band of light in the night sky? Our Milky Way Galaxy, how did it form? Where are we in the galaxy? Galaxy types, distribution, shapes, sizes and distances. Amateur telescopes and galaxies we can capture from our own backyards, a live tour of the sky if possible.

March 10 – More than just Galaxies
Funky galaxies and galaxy collisions. Future of the milky way and what happens when we bump into Andromeda in 4 billion years. Starburst galaxies, active galactic nuclei. Quasars and gamma ray bursts. How to measure fantastic distances in space with your backyard telescope.

March 17– Theories of space and time
19th century physics before Einstein. Special and general relativity. Proving Einstein right. Steady state vs. the Big Bang. Cosmic microwave background radiation. Hubble deep field, inflation, Universe open or closed? Drake equation, SETI and ET phone home, alternate ideas to Fermi paradox.

Instructor Alfredo Viegas is a member of the board of the AAA,  its Classes Committee, and teaches its Urban Astrophotography (101/102) classes. He is a life-long astronomy nut, who still has his first telescope which he got for Christmas in 1976. Alfredo has a M.S. in Astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University. While in college he ran the public observing program at Van Vleck Observatory and contributed to on-going astronomy research at Wesleyan University. Alfredo works in finance by day and captures photons at night.


February 24
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
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