Astronomy: Black Holes and Dark Energy

Astronomy: Black Holes and Dark Energy will present the modern theories that make the facts of astronomy the basis for science fiction, including the physics of black holes and the strange effects of dark energy.

We'll explain the implications of observations using telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, surveying the state of current observations while learning to take our own images with the 16 inch telescope at UMASS' Orchard Hill Observatory during night observing sessions.

We'll look at the Universe as a zoo, studying different unique objects in the universe, from stars to black holes to galaxies to the Universe itself.

Students will spend half their time in interactive lectures that are problem-solving based and half their time in the lab, doing experiments and getting a hands-on understanding of what professional astronomers do.


Students will:

(1) Attend lectures that are motivated by problem-solving individually, in small groups, and with the instructors, using a state-of-the-art team-based learning technology classroom. The physics will be at a college level, but the problem solving approach will allow students with only cursory high-school physics knowledge to learn skills.

(2) Learn to take observations of the night sky with backyard telescopes (~8 inch), a professional-grade telescope (16 inch), and the sun (with a specialized solar telescope). Students will be able to navigate the night sky on their own.

(3) Do laboratory physics experiments to learn what being in the field is really like, including specialized computer training.

(4) Present their own original research (in an oral presentation to peers and professional astronomers) of a project motivated by publicly-available astronomical images, including some from the Hubble Space Telescope.


Instructor: Stephen Schneider

Sample Schedule