Archaeoastronomy Course and Cultural Astronomy Outreach

I have taught Archaeoastronomy and World Cosmology at Pomona College for over 20 years as a Freshman seminar and a larger general education course. This topic always engages and excites students, as it connects the science of astronomy to their own lived experience and their ancestors and family. This approach to astronomy allows students to explore the human connections to the sky in ways that celebrate the diverse cultural heritages across the globe. These explorations have resulted in several remarkable interdisciplinary field trips and student projects that draw from the artistic and humanities talents that many of the students bring to the class. Since arriving at Soka University of America in 2017, I have brought these themes to my astronomy courses, including a learning cluster that focused on archaeoastronomy and my Earth’s Cosmic Context course, which emphasizes the ways in which we and all the cultures of the earth are connected with the skies.  The discussions in class and at the observatory are always an amazing way to connect students to the sky in a way that emphasizes our common humanity.
In 2010, I converted my course into a book entitled “The Power of Stars” which was published by Springer, Inc. This book is a general introduction to how humans have celebrated the skies across the earth over the centuries. It has also been used as a textbook at Yale University, Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and colleges and universities across the US and Europe.  In 2014, this book was accepted for a second edition, and while I was based in Singapore, I was able to travel extensively in Asia to visit temples and astronomical sites in India, China, Cambodia, and across Asia. The second edition was completed and published in 2017.

The impact of this work on Archaeoastronomy and World Cosmology has resulted in several travel tours and documentary film appearances over the years.  Below are a few examples and resources.