Astronomy 1: Introduction to Astronomy (3 hours lecture, 3 units)
This is a lecture course which covers the Universe and its contents. In my class, after a discussion of traditional astronomy, the Solar System is covered in detail, as it exists now, and as it formed and evolved over time. Next, I cover the nature of the Sun and stars, their current characteristics, birth, life and death, and their distribution throughout space. Finally, the Universe of galaxies is explored, including a discussion of its origin, evolution, and possible fate. In my class, there are no homework assignments other than studying for the exams, and grades are assigned only on the basis of examination results. (Other instructors may adopt different methods of instruction and evaluation, and use textbooks that present the topics in a different order.)
Astronomy 1L: Astronomy Laboratory (1 hour lecture, 3 hours lab, 2 units)
Laboratory classwork consists of a number of projects which are carried out at home, as well as in class. Students learn to identify objects in the sky, to follow their motions over time, and to use small telescopes to observe some of the brighter objects in the sky (fainter objects are unfortunately not visible in Long Beach, even with fairly large telescopes). There are also exercises involving simple arithmetic and graphical techniques to solve various astronomical problems (the most notable involves a graphical model of the orbit of Mercury performed in the same way that Johannes Kepler discovered the orbits of the planets approximately 400 years ago). There may also be a Final examination, to test how well students have mastered the various concepts they have learned, and how well they can use the field guide which serves as the 'text' for the class.
Relationship Between Astronomy 1 and 1L
Astronomy 1 satisfies a 3-unit Physical Science requirement. If BOTH Astronomy 1 AND Astronomy 1L are taken, whether they are taken at the same time or in different semesters, they satisfy a 5-unit Physical Science Laboratory requirement. If ONLY Astronomy 1L is taken, it does not satisfy any Science requirements, but does provide 2 units towards graduation.
Other than the fact that taking both classes satisfies a Physical Science Laboratory requirement, there is no direct connection between the two classes. Each provides a different view of the Universe. In the lecture class you learn what the Universe is like, why it is that way, how it got to be that way, and how it is likely to change in the future. In the laboratory class you learn how to observe things in the sky, how to use a field guide to help you make those observations, and how to do certain types of simple observations and calculations involving "traditional" astronomy. If you need to take a laboratory science class, there is some advantage to taking both of the classes at the same time, providing you can give each class the time required to do well, but since the two classes are taught as completely separate classes they do not have to be taken at the same time, and students who take one class can successfully complete it regardless of whether they take the other class or not.