Essentials of Astronomy for NASA Engineers (APPEL-ASTRO)
This course is for NASA engineers and technicians who have minimal astronomy training and would like to gain a foundational understanding of the philosophical underpinnings and the "big picture" of astronomy.
Most engineers earn undergraduate degrees without a foundational background in astronomy, yet their daily work at NASA is ultimately connected to cutting-edge exploration programs. This course offers participants a physical and philosophical understanding of our universe, allows them to more fully appreciate the scope of and rationale behind the work they are involved in, and inspires a continued interest in astronomy.
Fundamental knowledge of the universe and observational astronomy is achieved through lectures that include a wide variety of multimedia resources, together with thought-provoking interactive discussions. Key NASA programs that have proved invaluable to the astronomy community are also highlighted. An optional observation night is also offered in conjunction with this course, when possible, to tour the night sky.
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:
- Recall the high-level essentials of the history and science of astronomy, including findings by ancient philosophers, Newton, and Einstein;
- Explain the basics of observational astronomy, including the calendar, seasons, and eclipses;
- Describe the physical creation, elements, timeline, scale, and physical evolution of the universe, solar system, stars, galaxies, and other astronomical bodies, as well as explain its current state and ultimate demise;
- Discuss various resources leveraged for space studies (telescopes, spacecraft, remote sensing instruments, etc.) and differentiate their intended uses;
- Develop a deeper appreciation for the majesty of the worlds explored through engineering abilities, and defend the importance of NASA exploring the universe; and
- Use, as an engaged hobbyist, recommended astronomy hardware, software, and educational tools and resources to continue learning about the universe.
Competencies and Technical Areas Addressed
- Basics of observational astronomy
- Creation of the Universe, its current state, and ultimate demise
- Different uses of various space studies, scientific instruments and spacecraft
- High-level history and science of astronomy
View the course lectures online through the National Institute of Aeronautics portal.