G.F. (Fritz) Benedict
Office: RLM 16.222
Phone: (512) 471-3448
Office: RLM 16.307
Hours: TW 2-3
Phone: (512) 471-7460
Office: RLM 16.318
Phone: (512) 471-3466
Course Web Site
(Course site password available in class weekly)
Astronomy 309L is an elective course for non-science majors. The only prerequisites are a one-semester
college-level introductory course in astronomy (Ast 301 or equivalent) or the permission of the instructor.
In this course we will examine how science works as illustrated by astronomy, physics, biochemistry, geology,
paleontology, and anthropology. We will explore our understanding of the formation and evolution of our
Solar System, including the Earth. We will discuss the origin of life on the Earth and asses the likelihood of
life elsewhere in our Solar System. We will learn how to discover planetary systems around other stars and
review what is now known about those that have been discovered. We will learn how to choose the best stars
to search for extraterrestrial life, and how to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our Galaxy.
We will investigate how to carry out radio searches for extraterrestrial life and how to communicate, if we find
any. Lastly we will explore the possibilities of travel to the stars, ending with a critical assessment of UFOs.
The Search for Life in the Universe by Goldsmith and Owen.
Extraterrestrial Life - An Astronomical
Perspective by Barnes and Benedict (available only on the class web site).