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Enrollment and Pre-Requisites

Astro 160 is intended for students who are not majoring in science, but have a reasonable comfort level with high-school science and mathematics. It provides credit toward the SC and QR distribution requirements. Majors in the physical sciences or engineering will not be permitted to enroll. However, Biology and Cognitive Science majors will be allowed. Note that freshmen do not officially have a major yet, so there is no restriction on freshman enrollment regardless of intended major.

Math Level: Astronomy is an intrinsically mathematical subject, so any course on the topic necessarily contains some math. In this course, slightly over half of the course exercises will involve quantitative problem-solving. The course therefore satisfies the new "QR" requirement, as well as the new Science requirement and the old "Group IV" requirement. However, the level of mathematics is not extensive, including mostly material at the level of the quantitative SAT. We will use elementary algebra and geometry, and take the sine of an angle or two, but there is no calculus anywhere in the course. However, this does not mean that the problems are easy - working out word problems relating to astrophysical systems is seldom a simple matter! Solving such problems is a skill that can be learned, and we will discuss appropriate problem-solving strategies.

As preparation for Astro 160, we recommend that students have at least one of the following:

  • Math SAT score of 700 or greater. Note that calculus will not be used in this course.
  • A previous Yale QR course with a grade of B- or greater.
  • Four or more correct answers on the Astronomy Department QR assessment test.
  • Permission of the instructor.

    All students are required to take the Astronomy QR test in the first week of class, and again at the end of course. Taking these tests will be worth a tiny fraction of your overall grade - see here for grading details. Students with scores below 4 should consider taking Astro 110 instead - students with scores of 8 or above are reasonably well prepared for 200-level Astro courses, although you are welcome in Astro 160 if you wish.