The Scale of the Universe
A set of computer simulations and curricular materials for
teaching the history of galactic astronomy from Ancient
Greece to the discovery of the cosmic microwave background.
I teach the course using interactive methods. Students work in small groups to complete worksheet-based activities. Most of the activities involve using computer simulations. Some of the activities make use of free planetarium software (Stellarium). The remaining activities use computer simulations that I have created using the Easy Java Simulations (EJS) package. These simulations are part of the Open-Source Physics (OSP) project and are available for free using the links below, along with all of the worksheets for the activities. Interested faculty may also be able to get a pre-publication version of a textbook for this course.
Warning: I am continuing to refine these simulations, as well as develop new ones. I will try to keep an up-to-date version of the simulations available here, but this could lead to some incompatibilities between the most recent version of the simulations and the activity/lab handouts posted below. If you want a version that should work well with the handouts, use the class-tested version. Otherwise, use the most recent version.
You can obtain the simulations using the links below.
If you would like to edit the worksheets but need them in a different format please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I may be able to accommodate you.
Please watch out for typos and other errors in these handouts. I cannot guarantee that they are without flaws - but the handouts posted here are all materials that I have used in my own class. Please work carefully through the exercises yourself before you give them to your students!
|The Night Sky I (L)||121Activity1_NightSkyI.pdf||Stellarium||none|
|The Night Sky II (A)||121Activity2_NightSkyII.pdf||Stellarium, CelestialGlobe||none|
|Distance and Parallax (A)||121Activity3_DistanceParallax.pdf||Eratosthenes, Parallax2D||none|
|Cosmos: Greece to Copernicus (L)||121Activity4_Cosmos.pdf||SuperiorPtolemaic||none|
|Copernicus' Revolutions (A)||121Activity5_Copernicus.pdf||DailyRotation, EarthOrbit, CopernicanSystem, VenusPhases||none|
|Universe: Finite or Infinite (A)||121Activity6_FiniteOrInfinite.pdf||AngularDiameter, Parallax2D||none|
|Photometric Distances (L)||121Activity7_StellarDistances.pdf||none||none|
|Uniformity of the Stars (A)||121Activity8_Uniformity.pdf||none||none|
|Stellar Motions (A)||121Activity9_StellarMotions.pdf||Parallax3D, StellarAberration2D, StellarAberration3D||none|
|Dark Sky Riddle (L)||121Activity10_DarkNightSky.pdf||none||none|
|Models of the Universe (A)||121Activity11_MilkyWayModels.pdf||StarSystemModels||none|
|Motion of the Sun (A)||121Activity12_MotionOfSun.pdf||ParallacticMotion||none|
|The Construction of the Heavens (A)||121Activity13_ConstructionOfHeavens.pdf||StarSystemModels, HerschelStarGages||none|
|The Nebulae in the 19th Century (A)||121Activity14_Nebulae19C.pdf||none||none|
|Spectroscopy (A)||121Activity15_Spectroscopy.pdf||none||excitation lamps, spectrum tubes, incandescent lamp, spectrometer|
|Olber's Paradox (A)||121Activity16_OlbersParadox.pdf||DarkSkyFiniteAge||none|
|Photometry and Photography (L)||121Activity17_PhotoMetryGraphy.pdf||none||none|
|Radial Velocities and Binary Stars (A)||121Activity18_RadialVelocity.pdf||RadialVelocityMeasurement||none|
|Spectral Classification (L)||121Activity19_SpectralClasses.pdf||Spectral Classification of Stars (CLEA program), StellarBlackbodySpectrum||none|
|The H-R Diagram (A)||121Activity20_HRDiagram.pdf||none||none|
|Stellar Evolution (A)||121Activity21_InterpretingHR.pdf||none||none|
|Statistical Astronomy (L)||121Activity22_StatisticalAstronomy.pdf||KapteynProperMotion||none|
|Spirals: Dark Lanes and Novae (A)||121Activity23_SpiralsI.pdf||none||none|
|Spirals: Spectra and Motions (A)||121Activity24_SpiralsII.pdf||SpiralNebulaRotation||none|
|Cepheid Variables and Distance (L)||121Activity25_Cepheids.pdf||none||none|
|The Big Galaxy (A)||121Activity26_BigGalaxy.pdf||ShapleyGlobularClusters||none|
|The Great Debate (A)||121Activity27_GreatDebate.pdf||none||none|
|Cepheids in Spirals (A)||121Activity28_HubbleCepheids.pdf||none||none|
|Galactic Rotation (A)||121Activity29_GalacticRotation.pdf||DifferentialGalacticRotation||none|
|Absorption and Galactic Size (L)||121Activity30_Absorption.pdf||ShapleyGlobularClusters||none|
|Relativistic Cosmology (A)||121Activity32_Cosmology.pdf||EinsteinUniverse, DeSitterUniverse, LemaitreUniverse||none|
|Expanding Universe (L)||121Activity33_ExpandingUniverse.pdf||MilneUniverse||balloon or punch ball, clamp, string, marker, ruler, stopwatch|
|Stellar Populations (A)||121Activity34_StellarEvolution.pdf||none||none|
|Radio Astronomy (A)||121Activity35_RadioAstronomy.pdf||JanskyAntenna, GalacticHydrogenMapping||none|
|Relics of the Big Bang (A)||121Activity36_BigBangRelics.pdf||none||none|
The Java programs linked above are Open Source Physics (OSP) programs that were created using Easy Java Simulations (EJS) and are freely distributable under the GNU GPL license. For more information about the Open Source Physics project visit http://www.compadre.org/osp/.
All of the curricular materials (including the narratives in the Launcher package) are copyrighted by Todd Timberlake and/or Paul Wallace and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. You may modify and redistribute these materials for non-commercial use as long as you clearly cite the original author (Todd Timberlake for all simulations materials and the activity handouts, Paul Wallace and Todd Timberlake for the lab handouts) and release the materials under the same license.