ASTR 1103 – Introductory Astronomy

ASTR 1103 - Introductory Astronomy

Course Description

This course is a one-session, online 3-credit course in astronomy for non-science majors and anyone else who wants to gain a better understanding of the amazing, fantastic and awe inspiring universe we inhabit.

We will cover the birth and death of stars, the origin of the planets, the structure and evolution of galaxies and the beginning and ultimate fate of the cosmos itself. Along the way we will encounter wondrous objects like neutron stars, black holes, wormholes, quasars and exploding stars. We will learn how the elements created in the hearts of these exploding stars has made life as we know it possible. We will also learn about the practices and methodologies that astronomers use to probe the universe around us.

This course on its own satisfies the IB math requirement.

For this course to satisfy the IID Laboratory Science requirement you must also complete the corresponding laboratory course Astronomy 1101L or Astronomy 1103L

Course Objectives

  1. Spark students’ curiosity and wonder about astronomical objects, astrophysical phenomena, and the physical world in general.
  2. Develop students’ understanding of the physical processes, astronomical objects and astronomical phenomena studied by astronomers.
  3. Familiarize students with modern astronomical research methods and some of the most ground breaking recent astronomy research results.
  4. Develop students’ skills in making conclusions using logical, evidence based reasoning.
  5. Develop adequate skills in mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning.
  6. Learn how scientists acquire, organize and apply knowledge about nature based on experiments and observations.

Course Materials

Textbook: Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos
Adam Frank, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-393-60298-2

Video Game: At Play in the Cosmos
Use Student Set ID: 55380 to purchase access to the video game.
This game can be run on any platform.

Syllabus (PDF)

Dates: May 26 – Jul 1, 2025

Department: Physics

Course:  ASTR 1103

Credit Hours:  3




ASTR 1103L Laboratory


IB Math requirement

IID Laboratory Science requirement
(when taken with corresponding lab course ASTR 1101L or ASTR 1103L)

The above requirements are from the Randolph College general education program.  Check with your home institution to see if this course fulfills your requirements.

Tuition & Fees:

$1,125 tuition

Textbooks and other course materials can be purchased separately from the source of your choosing.

Your Instructor

Katrin Schenk, associate professor of physics at Randolph College

Katrin SchenkAssociate Professor of Physics

B.S., University of California at Los Angeles; M.S., Ph.D., Cornell University

Katrin has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University and now does computational neuroscience/ethology research. She received her training in computational neuroscience during her tenure as a Sloan-Swartz Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco.

Her research is focused on understanding the underlying dynamics of animal behavior and how knowledge of these dynamics can inform us about the effects of disease processes and environmental and/or genetic perturbations. Her research makes use of real behavioral data taken by collaborators in the fields of psychiatry, physiology, neurology, neuroscience and medicine and her main plans involve long term collaborations with experimentalists in the fields of geriatrics, psychiatry, and physiology.

She came to Randolph College because she is passionate about involving undergraduates in original research and because Randolph College’s high faculty to student ratio, flexible administration, and committed science faculty make it an ideal environment for fostering collaborations with undergraduates.

Register for Summer Session