Astronomy is a very complex, yet interesting topic. It relates to our world and the worlds beyond ours. By taking ASTR-2 at UCSC, you will understand the basics of how our universe was formed and how it works in correlation with ours. Here are the main concepts you will learn:

1) The Cycles of the Sky

The cycles of the sky consist mainly of the moon cycle and the seasons. The moon cycle lasts approximately one month and within that month it goes from a new moon, first quarter, full moon, third quarter, and then back to a new moon. In relation to the moon, there are also solar and lunar eclipses where the earth, the sun, and the moon are all in align with each other. And the seasons are due to the fact that the earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees and the sun hits either the northern or southern hemisphere more directly, causing it to be warmer.

2) The Sun

Taking ASTR-2 will provide you with all the necessary information you need to know on the sun. You will learn about its size, temperature, how it maintains hydrostatic equilibrium—the two forces that keep the sun from collapsing in on itself—sunspots, solar flares, and much more! The sun is in fact a star and has already used up half its life span (10 billion years total).

3) Stellar Evolution

Stars are incredibly fascinating and even though they are at incredible distances from the earth, we are still able to know a lot about them! We are able to measure their distance, temperature, size, brightness, density, and even their composition. In Astronomy, you will learn about how a star is born, its life cycle, and eventually how it dies.

4) Stellar Remnants

When a star comes to the end of its life, it’ll either become a white dwarf—if it’s a low-mass star (like the sun)—or a blackhole or neutron star if it’s a high-mass star. A star near the end of its life will reach a planetary nebula stage, as shown in the picture below. These nebulas, despite its name, have nothing to do with planets. They display beautiful colors and make for great pictures, even though it marks the death of a star.

5) Galaxies

Last but not least, if you take ASTR-2 you will learn about the many galaxies that exist beyond ours. Our galaxy—The Milky Way—is one of many galaxies that are in the universe. Our galaxy is actually quite small compared to the vast space of the universe. The Milky Way is part of a cluster of galaxies called The Local Group. If you wish to know more about the great beyond, take ASTR-2!

If these enticing photos aren’t enough to convince you to take Astronomy, then it is strongly encouraged that you do because it is very valuable and important to know about our world and its surroundings. This knowledge will not only let you educate your friends and family about everything our world has to offer, but also allow you to become aware of how everything in the universe is interconnected. This Astronomy class will teach you things that you never even knew you wanted to know!

Sophie Bales

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