During the past 20-30 years the quality of telescopes that astronomers and astrophysicists use has improved greatly. In recent years, the ability of the general public to access information has also improved dramatically, due in no small part to the World Wide Web. The combination of the two has produced a significant increase in astronomical interest among the public at large as well as students earning their degrees in colleges and universities. Because this is a relatively new field that is also experiencing significant growth, there is a need within the field for people who can explain concepts simply and accurately.
Detailed study of astronomy poses several challenges not routinely found in traditional subjects. Students must be able to grasp the difference between something that is fact and something that has not been disproven. Nearly all astronomical knowledge falls into the latter category. Another difficulty is they must be able to analyze things that fall outside of their everyday experience. For example, consider a Styrofoam block compared with a block of solid lead. Most people would say that the Styrofoam has a low density while the lead has a high density. As far as the Universe is concerned, they are both extremely low density. Another challenge to the study of astronomy is that students must be able to consider a very large range of distances. Even in a first year class they will study distances from billions of light years down to length scales shorter than a single proton.
A list of standard topics that a first year college student can be expected to cover includes:
• Electromagnetic spectrum components and spectra
• Similarities and differences between different types of telescopes
• Big Bang Theory, uniform expansion, and cosmological redshift
• Formation and evolution of stars and galaxies
• Newton’s Laws, Kepler’s Laws, Hubble’s Law
• Planetary formation, asteroids, comets, moons and rings
This is by no means an exhaustive list. As part of our commitment to helping students learn across a broad platform, 24HourAnswers has dedicated professionals available to help with everything from introductory to advanced topics including, but not limited to, mathematical and theoretical applications of fusion, gravity, and curvature.
College students should most certainly check out MITs OpenCourseWare listings which include
Introduction to Astronomy, The Solar System, and The Early Universe. It's also important to stay up to date with journals such as Astronomy & Astrophysics.