Introduction to the Cosmos at UCSC
Once on the path to your major, it is rare that there is a chance to take a course outside of your discipline. However, Astronomy 1 – “Introduction to the Cosmos” allows for non-science majors to be educated on the wonders of the night sky, without having to be subjected to the more technical side of a college level astronomy course. The course does focus on the scientific method, and according to the syllabus, the course “[emphasizes] reasoning and understanding over memorization”.
One of the greatest aspects of this course is that it is taught by professors working in one of the most competitive astronomy departments in the country. UCSC was ranked first in the nation by NASA for the contributions in research in space science in 2008. In 2010, UCSC planet hunters discovered a potentially inhabitable planet in a neighboring solar system. The staff and researchers of the astronomy and astrophysics department at UCSC are dedicated to discovery and exploration. Instructors are not working at UCSC for a job; they educate and research because this is exactly what they want to be doing with their lives. Passing their fervor onto young minds is a plus. It is educators with passion that make courses like Astronomy 1 possible.
In the recent annual budget, NASA took a brutal 40% cut in funding for Mars exploration. And yet, a month ago the Curiosity rover landed on Mars to start its two year survey of the red planet. The appropriate name, “curiosity”, symbolizes that the curiosity of humans will extend beyond our planet and into the cosmos. Astronomy 1 gives students more insight into the heartbeat of our universe, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has looked at a starry night sky and wondered what lies beyond the shy twinkling giants.
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