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Astronomy 101 - Stellar and Galactic Astronomy - Christine Hirst Bernhardt

Course:Stellar and Galactic Astronomy
Professor:Christine Hirst Bernhardt
  • Online
Course Length:
  • Applies to All Course Lengths


Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, 2021-2022

My name is Christine Hirst Bernhardt, and I will be your instructor. I am in the process of changing my name (hurray for pre-pandemic weddings), so you can address me as either Mrs. Hirst or Mrs. Bernhardt. Either is fine. I have taught at COC since 2015, and the Hart District since 2007. I also work with teachers at the NASA Endeavor Teaching Project, and through CSUN.  I moved to Washington D.C in 2021 to work for the next in a Congressional office as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. The policy world is simultaneously exciting and exhausting.  We decided to roll the cosmic dice and give life a try out here-and I transferred my PhD from UCSB to Maryland. Now I’m a Terrapin (I have the worst luck in mascots!). I hope that this course will be a great experience for you. I have taken many online courses and constantly adapt what I am doing to be reflective of new and emergent practices, tools, and the general pulse of my classes. 

Course Description

This course will allow you to take exploratory deep dives into various topics related to stellar and galactic astronomy  within and outside our galaxy which is ultimately an opportunity to learn about our place in space. Learning about space and the Universe is my passion, and I am so excited to share this journey with you!

General (not exhaustive) list of topics

  1. Categorize stars and galaxies in our universe
  2. Apply physical laws to observed phenomena in space
  3. Examine the analysis of light, how light is used to explain star characteristics and track motions in space
  4. Inventory our solar neighborhood of stars and local galaxies
  5. Visualize and illustrate the life of a star
  6. Relate and analyze physical properties of stars
  7. Classify galaxies
  8. Generalize the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies
  9. Evaluate mechanisms driving the structure and fate of our universe

What to Expect in this Course

You only need high speed internet for this course. There will be:

4 modules, each with:  

  • 1-2 discussions per module, but you only need to complete 4 this term
  • 1-2 assignments ("homework") per module
  • Nearpod assignments-this is how I do traditional lecture in an online course. This is like an interactive opportunity for remote notes and lecture. There will be a few of these each module, for each topic. 
  • 1 exam

Work windows will open on Sunday or Monday of each week, and close within 7 days for each assignment. Exams will open Friday morning and will be open for 72 hours. 

I drop the lowest exam and the lowest assignment score. 

Types of Assessments

Online exams (30-40 questions) 

Nearpod interactive notes (with embedded tasks, videos, questions) 

Textbook Information

All information online-OER

Other Relevant Course Information

You will be using Google Docs for my assignments. Please do not copy paste into word! This may adjust formatting and remove necessary links. 

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 10/12/2022 Sub#: 1498