Hopkins and On-Line Astronomy Course Information
Welcome to Northern Star On-Line School and
the Hopkins Astronomy Course.
Greetings to you no matter where you are, what grade you are in, or how much
you love the night sky or not. I welcome you to the most interesting subject
in all of science and I hope that you will enjoy this course, even if it is
a fraction of the level of enthusiasm that I have for Astronomy. My Uncle Bill
Albrecht gave me a little book entitled "The Sky Observer's Guide"
when I was a young boy. Nothing else in my young childhood captivated my interest
as much as that little book. If I am totally honest with you, my attention span
has always been so short that I am sure lots of things were of great interest
to me, such as riding my bike with friends to Lake Michigan, collecting baseball
cards or wheat pennies, or any activity that was not grade school. But, since
this is an Astronomy course, I will emphasize that little book, and it really
was so cool to me as a boy that I wore out the binding looking at pictures and
trying to read amazing facts about planets and stars.
Today (as I re-write this in September of 2018), my uncle is
9 years since his passing, yet remains one of the two most influential people in my life outside of my parents. During the first week of July,
2002 he invited me to accompany him on one last trip to the Big Island of Hawaii
for the annual meeting of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers),
of which he is a prominent member. We had a great week of meetings that included
a special trip to the top of Mauna Kea, where the world's finest collection
of professional telescopes exists. He and I are pictured below (I am on the
left :) ). He has passed the torch of excitement for Astronomy to me, and I
am anxious to pass the same on to you. I can only hope that you will enjoy learning
something of what is happening in the Universe around you and begin to appreciate
just how significant your life really is amidst such an overwhelming number
His legacy to me is a collection of tektites, a stolen cephalopod fossil, and a deep and abiding love of the night sky. When he found out that I was going to be an Astronomy teacher, he charged me with a challenge. He said, "Do not bother trying to teach math, theory, or quantum physics. Make it your goal to get your students to go outside, look up, and say, "WOW ... I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING UP THERE!" It is toward that goal that I teach.
I also want to thank my wife Cathy and daughters Mary and Maggie, who have
put up with so much of my absence from family while I was developing this course.
I was often in our house without really being part of the family as these images
and text were assembled its present format. I love them dearly and from time
to time will make reference to them since they far more valuable to me than
stars and planets.
Finally, I want to remind each student that Astronomy is a science in a state
of constant change. No textbook can adequately keep up with the rapid flux of
information from space-borne satellites back to control computers on Earth,
and then into science journals to me. I have included more material than necessary
for a high school Astronomy course. (At least a level of high school Astronomy
as I believe is best suited for teenage students.) I offer many sidetrips with
your computer mouse that you may explore. Some of them will enhance the learning
experience and fill knowledge gaps. Others are included for humor or practical
life applications. I just hope you can find the course interesting enough that
you consider Astronomy as a hobby.
With these thankful remarks concluded,
please more ahead to Course Information.
This entire course is formatted to follow a sequence. At the end of each page,
you are instructed to move ahead to the next, much like turning the pages of
a book. In each case, that instruction is indicated by "pink lettering."
If you ever get lost, you can always return to the Syllabus
that serves as the guide place for my course. Just like Dorothy found home in
the "Wizard of Oz," just whisper "There's no place like home,"
and click you mouse on Home, and there you'll
be :) Here we go.
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