Take this class: Astronomy 320

Professor Paulo Alfonso, originally from Portugal, discussed the Higgs Boson during his Astronomy 320 lecture. (Photo by Emily K. Rabasto)

Stars, black holes, anti-matter, mutual annihilation, and scientific speculation. Those are only a few of the topics that are covered in Astronomy 320 with Professor Paulo Afonso.

Walking into the room, you feel yourself back in your old science class from high school. With long tables that seat four people, and various cupboards around the room with science-related items inside, you immediately know that you are in a science class.

Although very few students are enrolled in the class, Afonso leads a very enthusiastic lecture. From telling jokes to pausing for questions, the class doesn’t have a quiet moment.

The class starts with a 10 minute review of the key points talked about in the previous class. Afonso then starts on the new topic. With the lectures revolving around the textbook, it would be a good idea to skim through the text before class to be able to understand the lecture. Astronomy 320 is filled with many interesting topics. At one point in the class, Afonso brought the topic of anti-matter up, saying that the universe is very asymmetric, but there is still a possibility of anti-matter existing.

When Afonso showed a video in the class, he joked about there being no popcorn.

Although the class is challenging, there are many different topics discussed that can catch your attention. At one point, Afonso said that the course is a beginning course, but beginning advanced.

The course description says: “This course explores the nature and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the universe. Emphasis is placed on how astronomers gain and refine their knowledge of the universe and interpret the latest results of space exploration.”

Afonso stresses to his students that it is a good idea to read the book and meet with fellow classmates if they need extra help. He also lets the students know that he is always available during office hours and warns students of times when he won’t be available.

The course will be tough at times, but like in any class, you have to put in the hard work for a good grade.

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“The teacher really explains it and there are no stupid questions. We go into detail about everything, which is hard, but I like a challenge.” Tabitha Fugett
Major: Interior Design
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“Scale is the most important thing you can learn in this class. If you are lost in this huge space between the very large and the very small, you are lost in the course. You need to know how big an atom is, how big a molecule is. How big the solar system is, the galaxy, how big the observable universe is.”
Professor Paulo Afonso
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