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ASTRON-101L - Observational Astronomy Lab - Dr. Peregrine McGehee

Course:Observational Astronomy Lab
Professor:Dr. Peregrine McGehee
  • OnlineLive
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Artist rendering of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Welcome to Astronomy 101L  - Observational Astronomy Lab!

My name is Dr. Peregrine McGehee, and I will be your instructor in this semester’s exploration of the universe. For historical reasons my last name is pronounced “McGee”, and if you want to be formal you can address me as “Dr. McGehee”, or even “Dr. Peregrine” (it’s like the falcon). 

We may not have planned for an online science class, and may prefer being together in a classroom, and I imagine that you may have some anxiety, concerns, and uncertainty about taking a science class online. 

To try to help you all feel more comfortable and prepared for class, and so you hopefully know exactly what to expect, I wanted to get in touch with you early, to explain our plan for the fall. Our canvas shell will be open about 1 week prior to the start of the semester, and your course canvas shell will have many resources available to you and information detailing expectations and our plan for the semester. Astronomy is a beautiful science that is both challenging and fun, and I will be here for you, at every step, to help you succeed.

While I am often on-line, there is no guarantee of an immediate response although I will generally get back to you within a day – except for holidays. So, please plan your work time accordingly and be aware of assignment deadlines! 

For you to succeed in this class you must log in to Canvas daily during the week (M-F), and manage your time accordingly. I recommend that you review each week’s assignments as soon as they are posted so that you have an idea of how much time they may take. There is no need to be surprised close to a deadline. 


Course Description

Astronomy 101L is a 1.0 unit CSU, UC transferable course! This is a one semester course that introduces you to first year topics in physics and chemistry, emphasizing the science that is observable in our daily lives.  We will discuss and practice lecture content together, and laboratory investigations will provide you with first hand observational evidence for the concepts we will explore.

Student Learning Outcomes and Goals:

In this class the main learning outcome is to utilize the tools of astronomy to observe and analyze objects in the sky.

The goals for this class are 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

Are we going to have scheduled lecture and labs?

Normally we would be in the lab for all of the sessions.  Since we are handling the entire course in Distance Education mode (for everyone’s safety), the schedule will be as follows:

  • I will host a live class via Zoom during which I will preview the lab for the week and then allow you to work in self-selected breakout rooms. 
  • Our labs are all going to be done virtually, so you may complete them after our Zoom session or anytime that day.  We will complete online simulations together during our live class time to ensure that everyone has access to this data.

How will we use Zoom?

Thankfully for us, Zoom is completely integrated within Canvas and so you will access our class meetings through your Canvas course shell. There is a link on the left-hand side of your screen, in canvas, that says ConferZOOM and you will access our live meetings through that link. There will be a much more detailed explanation of this for you in our Intro Module in Canvas, closer to the start of our Fall 2021 class.

How are we going to do labs?

Many of the labs will utilize materials that you may be able to find where you live.  Alternate options will be available as well, to ensure that everyone may complete the general investigation in some way.  Some lab investigations utilize free online simulations, and we will do these together to make sure everyone has access to the experience.  Some simulations will require that you either make sketches of systems or capture screen shots.

How will the course be organized?

The course will be organized into modules in canvas.  Modules will include Google slides presentations, lab investigations, and other resources to help you master the content.

How will we submit our assignments?

All assignments will be submitted in Canvas. You may submit text files, word documents, pdf files, or JPEG images. For some activities (like labs) it may be easiest to submit documents to me using a free app on your phone, AdobeScan or CamScan or any other app you may already have (iPhone has their own). Make sure you follow the directions for free versions! 

Do I need any special materials because we are online?

  • You will need regular access to a reliable computer with stable, high-speed internet connection
  • Access and familiarity with Canvas (for technical support using Canvas, visit the Canvas Tech Support page for students
  • Access to your canyons student email address (check frequently!)
  • You will need the following software on your computer:  Internet browser (Chrome works best with Canvas), and Microsoft Word  (you can download the Microsoft Office Suite for FREE as part of your my.canyons email account)

Types of Assessments

Your grade will be entirely based on your completed lab work. There are no separate homework assignments or exams.


Other Relevant Course Information

What do I need to do to be successful in this class?

You are going to be personally responsible for keeping up with the work load, which may feel very different than your traditional Fall/Spring semester experiences. It is extremely important that you keep up with all of your work, and attend all class meetings.

  • Come to class!  Participate and collaborate with others during our live Zoom class so that you may learn from each other
  • Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to be wrong about something
  • Plan time each day to complete work and study for this class
  • Pay attention to Announcements in canvas, that is how I will communicate important information to everyone in the class 

What should I do next?

As soon as I open our canvas shell, I will send an email to you.  Find the course syllabus and write down any questions you may have so we may talk about them on the first day.  Look through the canvas course with the goal of simply exploring what is there.

At any point please email me with any questions you have at I look forward to meeting you all very soon!


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.


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Last updated: 06/01/2021 Sub#: 138