Astronomy at SMU in Taos

Elements of Astronomy - Physics 1311

Summer 1999 (June 27-July 22)

Enjoy beautiful Taos, New Mexico, AND fulfill a General Education Curriculum Science requirement! No prerequisites.

What is SMU in Taos?

The life and landscape of Northern New Mexico offer unlimited horizons for explorers of new worlds of knowledge. The SMU in Taos campus is the location of historic Fort Burgwin and important Anasazi excavations at Pot Creek. A summer of study at SMU in Taos can be the age of discovery for students of all ages.

Elements of Astronomy (Physics 1311)

PHYS 1311 is a survey of astronomy from its early history through study of the planets and on to the stars and the universe. It is intended to provide basic literacy about the universe as well as an introduction to the oldest known science. The course will be taught by John Cotton, Adjunct Professor of Physics.

This will be descriptive astronomy, and so involves no higher mathematics, although some relatively simple calculations are included, especially in some labs.

The course includes laboratory exercises and qualifies as a lab science for those needing such a credit. There will be 10 lab sessions during the term. In the labs you will use real astronomical data to make measurements and understand how astronomy is really done. We will also take advantage of the dark night skies to go out and study the sky with telescopes as weather permits. If you have never gone out under a dark sky (away from the Dallas city lights!) and really looked at the stars, this will be a memorable experience. The planets Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune will be in good position for observation during July, so we will see them also.

The textbook will be In Quest of the Universe by Karl F. Kuhn, published by West. The lab manual is written by the instructor. Both are available at the SMU Bookstore in Lee Center. Please bring both to Fort Burgwin. A good pair of binoculars will be excellent for star-gazing; bring them if you have them. Each student should bring a scientific calculator for these required computations. Come prepared to think about the universe a lot!

The course work includes class sessions, labs, 3 tests, some homework, observing exercises and a final exam at the end. There are no prerequisites for PHYS 1311. 3 credit hours.

INQUIRIES: John Cotton (214)428-5555 x388 <>

Registration and Tuition

Arrive June 27, depart July 22, 1999.
Tuition: $1020, Fees: $45, Room and Board: $1000
More information about SMU in Taos is available at