The course aims to cover basic knowledge in astronomy and astrophysics, to teach skills of operating simple telescopes and navigating through the sky’s constellations and cycles, and to give the students the ability to conduct guided telescopic activities for the general public. Attending lessons of telescope operation is mandatory.
1 Revolutions in space science from Copernicus to modern times.
2 The night sky: coordinates, periods, Earth’s spin axis, magnitudes scale, constellations, Messier catalog, what is observable.
3 Telescopes: optical principles, how to operate, types, parameters.
4 Astronomical observations: atmospheric and other disturbances, calibrations, cameras and photography.
5 Field observations 1: operating telescopes, identifying celestial bodies.
6 Light: definition, electromagnetic waves, spectrum, atom structure, light-atom interaction, spectroscopy, black-body radiation, Doppler effect.
7 The Moon – phases, periods and eclipses, physical properties, research history and study at the Weizmann Institute.
8 The Solar System – planets and satellites, asteroids and comets, meteors and showers. What to observe and how to identify, properties, periods, and current research.
9 The Sun – properties and periods, spots and activity, nuclear fission and history, day-time observations and how to conduct them safely.
10 Field observations 2: operating telescopes, identifying celestial bodies.
11 Outer space: stars, clusters, nebulae, galaxies, supernovae. Stellar evolution from birth to death. Properties and identification. What to observe. Studies at the institute.
12 Cosmology – The Olbers paradox, Cosmological principal, expanding universe, Hubble law, background cosmic radiation, the Big Bang, dark matter and dark energy, the fate of the Universe.
13 Searching for life – the Fermi paradox, the Drake equation, exoplanets, potential locations for life in our Solar System.
14 Conducting a public events and presenting to the public in an exciting way.