Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Astronomy 1(Half) ASTRO1002

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 1 (SCQF level 7)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

Presents a general introduction to the subject of astronomy and in particular the areas of solar system physics, positional astronomy and dynamical astronomy.


Lectures daily at 10am. Laboratories certain Mondays or Thursdays at 1.30pm-4.30pm.

Requirements of Entry

Pass in Maths SQA Higher or equivalent. Pass in Physics SQA Standard Grade or equivalent. (Pass in Physics SQA Higher or equivalent is advised).

Excluded Courses

  Exploring the Cosmos 1X


Degree exam (1 paper) - 55%; Tutorials - 10%; Labs - 15%; Class test - 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

1. To present a general introduction to the subject of astronomy and in particular the areas of solar system physics, positional astronomy and dynamical astronomy;

1. To introduce students to some practical aspects of astronomy through laboratory work;

1. To encourage students to organise their time and work effectively

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


(1) describe the structure of the sun, the planets, the satellites and other minor bodies and the structure and origin of the solar system;

(2) state the fundamental physical laws of blackbody radiation, gravitation, the gas laws and radioactivity;

(3) apply the above laws to describe and explain the properties of the bodies in the solar system and the evolution and formation of the solar system;

(4) state the fundamental formulae of spherical trigonometry and be able to apply them to planetary motion and terrestrial navigation;

(5) describe the various co-ordinate systems and how to transfer between them;

(6) solve problems concerning apparent motion of stars in the night sky;

(7) state the basic concepts of Newtonian gravitation and associated phenomena;

(8) use these concepts quantitatively in various situations such as deriving surface gravity and escape velocities and determining properties of planetary orbits;


The student should also: carry out three practical investigations in elementary astronomy, taking and analysing data and reporting on their findings in written form.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Attendance at 50% of the class tutorials;

Submission of 50% of the assignment questions;

Attendance at 50% of the laboratory sessions and submission of the associated work for marking;

Attendance at class test;

Attendance at final degree exam.