ASTR 205 (Universe—The Ultimate Frontier) is a three-credit introductory astronomy and astrophysics course that describes the universe as we now understand it, explains how our current understanding came about, and shows how the scientific method forms the basis for both the tools and the theories of astronomy. This course has no prerequisites and has a Challenge for Credit option if students are interested. ASTR 205 is offered as an individualized online study with a video component.
Students should note that registration into AST 205 includes an e-textbook, a telecourse student guide, and a spectrum viewer to view the video component of the course. Supplementary video lessons are available as streaming videos through the course website. Alternatively, the videos can be borrowed as DVDs from the Athabasca University Library.
Universe—The Ultimate Frontier is made up of five parts: the sky, the stars, the universe of galaxies, the solar system, and life. There are also two assignments that weigh ten percent each, two multiple-choice quizzes worth ten percent each, four short-answer quizzes weighing a total of twenty percent, and a final examination for forty percent. Throughout this course students will learn about topics such as light and how it carries information to us, how stars group together into galaxies, how galaxies are distributed, and the characteristics and origins of the planets and other bodies in our solar system. To receive credit for ASTR 205, students must achieve a course composite mark of at least a “D” or fifty percent and a grade of at least fifty percent on the final examination.
The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation website.
Karen Fletcher enrolled in the Bachelor of Science major in Mathematics program at Athabasca University in May of 2019 and completed ASTR 205 recently. She provides a bit of an introduction, stating “’I’m from Ottawa, and I have three kids (ages 2, 4, and 6). I received a Bachelor of Arts when I was younger but as my kids will all be in school full-time in the next couple of years, I’m looking to do something a bit different, and have recently returned to school to get my Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. I work part-time designing knitting patterns for magazines and yarn companies and when I have free time I love to sew or play board games with my husband.”
When asked to explain the course to students, Karen states “I loved this course. ASTR 205 is an introduction to astronomy including our solar system, the history of the universe, types of stars and other stellar objects, how telescopes work, and the history of astronomy. It was really interesting, and both the textbook and video lectures were fantastic.”
As for the structure of the course, she states “There are twenty units, each with a chapter of reading, a video lecture, and some questions to work through. There are two major assignments, one involving multiple evenings of observations of the night sky an hour after twilight (so maybe do not take this in the dead of winter), and then an analysis of the movement of the moon and planets you observed. There were no minimum word counts but to answer all of the questions took me several thousand words.”
Karen continues “The second assignment was to analyze a piece of popular culture for good or bad astronomy and that had a maximum of 1500 words. Then there were four short-answer “quizzes” of six questions each, which was more like an assignment. Each quiz took me about 2000 words. Then there were two multiple-choice quizzes and a multiple-choice exam. I found the multiple-choice quizzes and final exam to be very difficult. It seems the questions were taken from Pearson’s Mastering Astronomy course, which does not100% line up with the content of this course (but many people who have taken that course put their study notes on Quizlet which helped me prepare enormously.”
Karen would recommend this course, stating “I loved this course and I would totally recommend it with the caveat that you likely will not be able to rush through it. I would also like to see all the multiple-choice questions changed to reflect the content of the course.”
As for tips and tricks, she explains to “Look up the questions from your multiple-choice quizzes on Quizlet, save the sets they are in and study those for your exam!”
When asked how communications with her tutor has been, she states “I had David Lyder for my tutor. He was friendly and approachable, and marked the quizzes pretty quickly. For the assignments, he printed out, wrote feedback on them, then mailed them to me (which is fine but I was not expecting that), so it seemed like it took a while to get the feedback but that is because it went through the mail.”
Whether ASTR 205 is a degree or program requirement of yours, or the topics mentioned above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning a lot of interesting material surrounding the topic of the universe.