Since the dawn of human consciousness, we have gazed at the sky with wonder and pondered our place amongst the heavens. In this class, we will discuss the key discoveries of astronomy and the people who made them, placing these discoveries in historical context: what was the world like when humans first discovered the size of the Earth or determined the distances to the stars? How did society influence discovery, and how did achievements in astronomy impact society?
Through discussion, telescopic observation, and demonstration of techniques, we will examine the major astronomical achievements from antiquity to the present day, with an emphasis on the past 500 years. We will discuss astronomy's changing role over time, from mystical (astrology and mythology), to practical (time keeping and navigation), to physical (the nature of stars and planets). Finally, we will gaze to the future and discuss the biggest unsolved mysteries in astronomy, and what we will need to achieve to solve them.