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ASTRON-101L - Observational Astronomy Lab - Michaela Blain

Course:Observational Astronomy Lab
Professor:Michaela Blain
  • InPerson
Course Length:
  • 5 Week


Near-infrared view of the Carina Nebula taken by JWST

Welcome to ASTRON-101L (Observational Astronomy Lab)!

My name is Michaela Blain (she/her) and I will be your instructor. Science and astronomy have always been passions of mine and I'm so excited to explore the universe with you through this course! Astronomy, as a discipline, is both challenging and super fun. As your instructor, I will be here to support you and help you succeed in your studies of the cosmos. While our focus will be in the topics of Astronomy, we will also zoom out a bit to explore what science is and how science is done. My hope is that all of you will leave this course with a better understanding of science as a whole and of our place and context in the universe.

Course Description

ASTRON-101L is a 1.0 unit CSU, UC transferrable course! It is a one semester (or 5-week equivalent) course exploring astronomy, physics, math, and chemistry topics/skills at the first-year level.

In this course, we will be exploring the universe through an observational lens. In other words, we will be focusing on learning about different types of observations used in Astronomy and what each type of observation can tell us. Many of the lab activities will explore topics from your lecture class, but now with the opportunity to dive into each topic more deeply and gain hands-on experience. You will also have the opportunity to use telescopes, virtual planetarium software, and more to conduct your own observation project!

Student Learning Outcomes & Goals

The overall learning outcome of this course is to use scientific tools and principles to observe and analyze objects/phenomena in the universe.

More specifically, students can expect to:

  • Apply physical laws to observed phenomena in space.
  • Examine characteristics and behavior of light, and how light is used to detect objects/motions in space.
  • Classify and compare tools and techniques used by astronomers to observe objects in the universe.
  • Locate and characterize constellations and other common objects in the night sky.
  • Predict moon phases based on observations,
  • Determine level of solar activity
  • Analyze exoplanet data
  • Utilize various telescopes and detectors for night sky and solar observations.
  • Classify and categorize objects and phenomena is astronomy.

What to Expect in this Course

Weekly Workload

Your workload will be limited to in-class activities only. As the instructor, this means all of the activities will be designed so that you will be able to complete them within each class session. I will not assign any homework outside of in-class work. As the student, this means your attendance and best-effort participation are critical to your success! 

Technology Requirements

While we will be using physical equipment like telescopes, most labs will have a Canvas or other online component. Please bring a laptop or mobile device with you to class, if possible.

The following technology will be needed for this course:

  • Reliable access to Canvas via Chrome browser on a laptop (preferred) or via the Canvas Student App on a mobile device
  • Access to your Canyons Student email account (please check regularly for any announcements)

Types of Assessments

This course will not include any tests. Passing this class will instead reflect regular attendance, best-effort participation in in-class work (experiments, activities, discussions, etc.), and completion of the observing project.

Other Relevant Course Information

Tips for Success

Success in this class will reflect regular attendance and best-effort participation/completion of in-class work. It is up to you, as the student, to manage your time well, show up to lab on time, and participate fully in each lab session.

Some tips/recommendations include:

  • Come to class! Participate and collaborate with your classmates during lab sessions to stay engaged and learn from each other
  • Ask questions! Getting something right on the first try is much less important than learning deeply through mistakes and questions.
  • Ask for help! Your instructor and classmates are great resources. Try by yourself first, then don't hesitate to ask me or classmates for help.

What's Next?

The Canvas shell for this course will open 1 week before class starts. Please check out the syllabus and other materials in Canvas to introduce yourself to the course content and important information.

Contact Information

As your instructor, I am here to help! Don't hesitate to reach out to me using one of the following:

  • Canvas message (preferred)
  • Email (I will do my best to reply within 24 hours M-F, and by end of day Monday for emails received over the weekend)

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: 02/27/2023 Sub#: 1559