This seminar series aims at building up general scientific literacy, by discussing selected topics in current astronomy, cosmology, and space science. We will delve into the physical foundation behind the questions being asked and how the answers are being sought. Students will have an opportunity early in the course to select topics of particular interest to them and this will govern the choice of readings as well. Topics could include: formation of stars; lives and deaths of stars; stellar corpses: white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; planets around other stars; recent results from Hubble and other telescopes; architecture of the solar system; exploration in the solar system; the invisible universe: dark energy and dark matter; first light; formation of galaxies; the age and future of the universe. Participants should be comfortable with basic mathematics and quantitative reasoning. Students will be expected to do independent research for essays, presentations, etc. Restricted to first-year students. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.