|Personal Information||Contact Information||Current Classes||BC Homepage||Physical Science Dept.|
|BS -- Astronomy and Physics (double major) -- University of Arizona 1987|
|MS -- Astronomy -- University of Washington 1990|
|PhD -- Astronomy -- University of Washington 1995|
|Computer programmer/research assistant -- Speckle Interferometry group Univ. AZ -- 1985 - 1988|
|Married to Lisa Strobel -- 1989 - present|
|Research assistant -- Univ. of WA -- 1990 - 1995|
|Teaching assistant (astronomy) -- Univ. of WA -- 1988 - 1995|
|Professor, physical science -- Bakersfield College -- 1996 - present|
|Planetarium director -- Bakersfield College -- 1996 - present|
Astronomy B1 -- Astronomy B2 -- Astronomy B3 -- Planetarium
Astronomy B1 - Physics of the Cosmos (3 units)
Introductory college-level course emphasizing the fundamental observations
and the underlying physical principles in scientific models of astronomy. Among
topics included: the motions, properties, and evolution of the Sun, planets,
stars, galaxies, and universe; the properties of electromagnetic radiation;
atomic structure; and astronomical instruments. Prerequisite: Reading Level 1 (College level reading).
Recommended: Math A (first semester algebra) with grade C or
Hours: (54) 3 lecture. Offered: F, S. CCS: Liberal Arts
& Sciences. Transferable: UC, CSU and private colleges.
BC GE B.1; CSU GE B.1; IGETC 5.A.
This is a college-level survey of the Universe, from the everyday observations we make of the sky (and what they mean) to our ideas about the inner workings (physics) of the planets, stars, galaxies and overall characteristics of the Universe. Throughout the course we examine the process and philosophy of science from the astronomical perspective. A few constellations may be learned but the focus of the course is how things work and how we know. This is NOT a course in astrology!
Modern astronomy is mostly a "physics of the cosmos"—how things work and how we know. Astronomy is a visually beautiful and intellectually stimulating subject. We live in a beautiful universe on a gorgeous planet. Understanding how it became the way it is and how the parts interact with each other enriches and deepens our appreciation for the artistry around us. It is my hope that you will take the time and spend the effort to learn how our universe works.
Select this link to go to the astronomy class homepage where links to the current syllabi and class calendars can be found for the astronomy courses. I wrote the text Astronomy Notes for the course. The main content is available on-line, but the in-class assignments and skywatch project are available in the hardcopy version. Select this link to the online textbook if you are not in the class website environment (you do not see any navigation icons at the top of the window).
Introductory course on the scientific search for life in the universe. The process and philosophy of science is examined from the astronomical and biological perspectives. Among topics included: the definition and nature of life, the formation and development of the Earth and life on the Earth, other places in our solar system that might have habitats for life, habitable zones around other stars, how we detect extrasolar planets, how we could detect biological activity on extrasolar planets, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, interstellar travel, and implications of making contact. Prerequisite: Reading Level 5|6 (College level reading). Recommended: Math BA (first semester algebra) with grade “C” or better. Hours: (54) 3 lecture. Offered: F, S. CCS: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Transferable: UC, CSU and private colleges. BC GE B.1; CSU GE B.1; IGETC 5.A.
Astrobiology is the scientific study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. The study of astrobiology (from "astronomy" + "biology") brings together researchers from historically separate scientific fields such as astronomy, microbiology, ecology, geology, paleontology, and chemistry and encourages them to work together to answer among the most fundamental questions science can pose: What is life? How did we get here? Are we alone in the universe? How can we tell if we are?
We begin by studying life on Earth, the only place in the universe where we know life exists. How did life begin here? How has it responded to changes in the environment? How has it changed the environment? What conditions does earthly life need to exist?
Then we look beyond Earth to the possibilities of life elsewhere. Most of life on the Earth is microbial, and it is likely that microorganisms will be the type of life we will find elsewhere in the universe. Astrobiologists try to figure out how to search for microbes and other life on the planets and moons in our Solar System and on Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. How do you detect evidence of biology when you cannot hold a soil sample in your hand? Does life leave its mark on a planet so that we can detect its presence remotely? Is life common? Or is our life-filled Earth rare and unique?
Finally, even more significant would be to find complex life (multi-cellular life more complex the microbes), especially self-aware, intelligent life capable of communicating ideas in a symbolic language across the vastness of empty space. How would we detect them? How would we communicate with them? Should we?
Introductory course on the Sun, Earth, other planets, moons, rings, comets, asteroids, and extrasolar planets, formation and development of the Earth and solar system, and possibility of life on other worlds. Prerequisite: Reading Level 5|6 (College level reading). Recommended: Math BA (first semester algebra) with grade “C” or better. Hours: (54) 3 lecture. Offered: F, S. CCS: Liberal Arts & Sciences. Transferable: UC, CSU and private colleges. BC GE B.1; CSU GE B.1; IGETC 5.A.
This is a college-level survey of the 21st-century solar system, from the everyday observations we make of the sky (and what they mean) to our ideas about the inner workings (physics) of the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, overall characteristics of the solar system and other planetary systems. Throughout the course we examine the process and philosophy of science from the astronomical perspective.
Select the planetarium link to find out more about the William M Thomas Planetarium (the link will appear in a new window). The astronomy classes are taught in the Planetarium and several thousand K12 school children visit the planetarium every year.
last updated: January 11, 2011