Introduction to Astronomy

Meet the Faculty

Tammy Smecker-Hane

Professor Smecker-Hane is an astrophysicist whose research focuses on using telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope and Keck telescopes to measure the ages and chemical compositions of stars in nearby galaxies to determine how the galaxies have evolved over age of the Universe. She is also the director of the UCI Observatory and the Astronomy Outreach Program. She teaches a wide variety of physics and astronomy courses to undergraduate as well as graduate students. She has taught the Physics 20A online course five times in the last four years, and her studies of student outcomes show that there is no statistical difference between how students perform in the regular lecture class verses the online class.

Course created by Tammy Smecker-Hane

Introduction to Astronomy

Winter/Spring 2018
UC Irvine, PHYSICS 20A
4 quarter units/2.67 semester units

History of astronomy. Underlying physics. Objects in the solar system and how they are studied. Properties of stars: their formation, structure, and evolution. Pulsars and black holes. Galaxies and quasars.

For detailed information, please see the Syllabus. There are 26 pre-recorded lectures in this course that students will view online. An online homework assignment and quiz are due each week, and there are two 1-hour long, multiple-choice exams and a 2-hour long, multiple-choice final exam in the course.

Important dates: 

Registration opens: Nov 27, 2017 
Registration ends: Jan 7, 2018
First day of instruction: Jan 8, 2018
Last day of instruction: March 16, 2018


Please click here to download a syllabus for this course.

Additional course fees: 

Online proctoring by ProctorU: Costs vary; average cost is between $20 and $60 per course.

Required Textbook: “21st Century Astronomy (4th edition”, L. Kay, S. Palen, B. Smith & G. Blumenthal (2013), WW Norton, Inc.


Tammy Smecker-Hane