Spring 2024 - PHYS 190 D100

Introduction to Astronomy (3)

Class Number: 2248

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 13, 2024
    Sat, 8:30–11:30 a.m.



A survey of astronomy designed primarily for non-science students, with a strong emphasis on active learning outside the classroom. Covers the development of astronomy from the ancient Greeks through the Renaissance, to the modern view of the cosmos as revealed by the scientific method. Topics include naked-eye observation of the night sky, modern observational equipment and techniques, the solar system, stellar evolution, galaxies, the Hubble expansion, the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, and startling new theories of the origin and destiny of the universe. Experiential activities involve active observations of the moon, stars and planets, and introductory experiments in some of the basic physics that astronomers use to explore the cosmos. Students who have received credit for PHYS 121, 126, or 141 may not take PHYS 190 for further credit. Quantitative/Breadth-Science.


1. The night sky: the celestial sphere, constellations, angles, stellar brightness
2. The seasons, precession
3. Distances to the stars
4. The Sun as a star
5. Stellar evolution: birth, life and death
6. The Milky Way Galaxy and the Local Group
7. Distances to the galaxies
8. Galaxy evolution
9. Dark matter and supermassive black holes
10. Cosmology: Hubble-Lemaître expansion, dark energy, the Big Bang


  • Homework 20%
  • Labs 20%
  • Two in-class Midterms 30%
  • Final Exam 30%



Required Text:
OpenStax book: https://openstax.org/details/books/astronomy


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students who cannot write their exam during the course's scheduled exam time must request accommodation from their instructor in writing, clearly stating the reason for this request, within one week of the final exam schedule being posted.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.