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ASTR101: Introduction to Astronomy

Unit 1: The Greeks   In this unit, you will be introduced to the worldview established by the ancient Greeks.  The Greeks are credited with being the first to attempt natural explanations for natural phenomena and thus with the birth of science.  We trace the development of Greek astronomy from Thales in the sixth century Before the Common Era (BCE) through to Ptolemy in the second century of the Common Era (CE).

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 9 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.4: 1 hour

☐    Assessment: 2 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - List the most significant advances in astronomy made by the ancients Greeks. - Compare and contrast the views of reality held by Plato and Aristotle. - Identify the reasons why the Greeks believed in a geocentric universe. - List the major components of the Greek worldview.

1.1 The Pre-Socratics   - Web Media: YouTube: Frank Gregorio’s “Introduction to Astronomy” Link: YouTube: Frank Gregorio’s “Introduction to Astronomy” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch this video, which will introduce you to
the wonders of astronomy.  Don’t worry about content at this point,
just relax and get ready for an exciting intellectual adventure.  

 Watching this video should take approximately 5 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1: The Greeks” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1: The Greeks (PDF)

    Instructions: This article provides an overview of the material we will cover in Unit 1.  Read it carefully but please don’t think that you have to fix every single fact into your memory.  What you should strive for is to be sure that it makes sense to you as you are reading it and that when you are finished you can briefly summarize the main points of the reading.  You should read this both as you start and after you have finished working your way through the unit.

    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.

  • Reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s “Presocratic Philosophy” Link: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s “Presocratic Philosophy” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this introduction to the Presocratics carefully.  Pay particular attention to section 1, “Who were the Presocratics,” and section 10, “The Presocratic Legacy.”

    Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: SisyphusRedeemed’s “A Brief History of Science: Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages (Part 2-1)” Link: SisyphusRedeemed’s “A Brief History of Science: Antiquity to the Late Middle Ages (Part 2-1)” (YouTube)

    Instructions: The video is a PowerPoint presentation with audio.  Some of the topics covered are ones that we will not be talking about, but they may be of interest to you.  The last few minutes will take you into the material for Units 3 and 4.

    Watching this video should take approximately 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Chlestos Vasilis’ “Ancient Greek Innovations” Link: Chlestos Vasilis’ “Ancient Greek Innovations” (YouTube)

    Instructions: This video will introduce you to Greek innovations in philosophy, science, architecture, and the arts, many of which form the basis for Western civilization today.

    Watching this video should take approximately 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.1 The Birth of Science   - Web Media: “Carl Sagan on the Pre-Socratic Philosophers (Part 1)” Link: “Carl Sagan on the Pre-Socratic Philosophers (Part 1)” (Flash)

 Instructions: This video is an excerpt from the PBS documentary
Cosmos by Carl Sagan, perhaps the most popular spokesperson
astronomy has ever had. Neil deGrasse Tyson currently holds that
title, and also has some great videos that we will see throughout
the course.  

 Watching this video should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.2 Thales   - Reading: Washington and Lee University: Professor James E. Mahon’s “Thales” Link: Washington and Lee University: Professor James E. Mahon’s “Thales” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read this article carefully.  You should come
away from the reading knowing why Thales is considered the “father
of science” and with an example of his approach.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.3 Other Presocratics   - Web Media: YouTube: malcangi1987’s “The Presocratic Philosophers”

Link: YouTube: malcangi1987’s [“The Presocratic
Philosophers”](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_krrqbwHZ8)
(YouTube)  

 Instructions: This video is a PowerPoint presentation about the
most influential Presocratic philosophers.  You may wish to turn the
volume down, as the music is unrelated to the material.  

 Watching this video should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle   - Reading: University of Missouri-Kansas City: Benjamin Jowett’s “Plato & Socrates” Link: University of Missouri-Kansas City: Benjamin Jowett’s “Plato & Socrates” (HTML)

 Instructions: This article will introduce you to Socrates and
Plato.  The focus of the reading is the relationship between these
two famous philosophers.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 5 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Shippensburg University: George Boeree’s “The Ancient Greeks Part Two: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle” Link: Shippensburg University: George Boeree’s “The Ancient Greeks Part Two: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle” (HTML)

    Instructions: In this article, you will learn more about Socrates and Plato and be introduced to Aristotle.  You should come away from the reading knowing how Aristotle’s approach differed from that of Socrates and Plato.

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Perseus Digital Library: Thomas Fowler’s “Aristotle’s Astronomy” Link: Perseus Digital Library: Thomas Fowler’s “Aristotle’s Astronomy” (HTML)

    Instructions: This article gives you a rather detailed account of Aristotle’s astronomy.  You should come away from the reading knowing Aristotle’s view of the physical nature of the universe.  The latter part of the reading talks about Aristotle’s ideas about the causes of motion.

    Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Physics and Astronomy: “The Universe of Aristotle and Ptolemy” Link: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Physics and Astronomy: “The Universe of Aristotle and Ptolemy” (HTML)

    Instructions: This article will further develop the astronomy of Aristotle and introduce the last of the classical Greek astronomers, Ptolemy.  The treatment of epicycles in this article is a little more detailed than we need for this course, but you should come away from it knowing the role of epicycles in the geocentric model.

    Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Philosopher’s Lighthouse: “Aristotle’s Thoughts on Reality” Link: The Philosopher’s Lighthouse: “Aristotle’s Thoughts on Reality” (HTML)

    Instructions: This is a very short but clear description of the different views of reality held by Plato and Aristotle.

    Reading this article should take less than 5 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3 Later Advances in Greek Astronomy   1.3.1 Aristarchus and the Heliocentric View   - Reading: Cornell University: Martha Haynes’ “Astronomy 2201: Aristarchus” Link: Cornell University: Martha Haynes’ “Astronomy 2201: Aristarchus” (HTML)

 Instructions: In this article, Aristarchus’s relative measurements
of the sizes of the earth, sun, and moon, and the relative distances
to the sun and moon, are described.  You should come away from this
article being able to list the reasons why Aristarchus believed the
earth went around the sun rather than *vice versa*.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.2 Eratosthenes and the Circumference of the Earth   - Reading: Cornell University: Martha Haynes’ “Astronomy 201: Eratosthenes” Link: Cornell University: Martha Haynes’ “Astronomy 201: Eratosthenes” (HTML)

 Instructions: This article is a very brief description of how
Eratosthenes was able to measure the circumference of the earth.  It
should take only a few minutes for your first reading, but go back
over it again to make sure you understand the logic of the
measurement.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 10 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.4 The Greek Worldview   - Reading: American Institute of Physics’ Center for History of Physics: “The Greek Worldview” Link: American Institute of Physics’ Center for History of Physics: “The Greek Worldview” (HTML)

 Instructions: This article summarizes the view of the universe held
by Aristotle and Ptolemy.  Please focus on the sections up through
“The spheres rotated.”  The latter part of the article introduces
topics we will talk about in Unit 3, but reading it in advance will
provide useful background information.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Assessment” (PDF)

    Instructions: When you have finished the entire unit, please complete this assessment without referring to the readings.  When you are finished with the assessment, you can check your answers against the Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Assessment – Answer Key” (PDF).

    Completing this assessment should take approximately 2 hours.