Astronomy: A Comprehensive Study of our Solar System & Universe

Texts: Discovering the Universe (5th ed.), Comins and Kaufman
Study Guide and Notes for Astronomy, Pitman
Week Schedule of Topics and Assignments Reading Quiz/Exam
1 The Universe as it appears and the Universe as it really is
How we know the things we know
A tour of our Universe: The solar system, stars, galaxies and beyond
Lab: Math in Astronomy
Foundations I  
2 Measurement in the Universe
Distance: light-year and parsec
Angular size and angular measure
Lab: How to Locate Objects in the Sky
ch. 1  
3-4 The Night Sky
Stars and constellations
The celestial sphere: Our view from Earth
Lab: Using a Star Finder
  Quiz 1
5-6 Earth, Sun, and Moon
The apparent motion of the Sun
The reason for the seasons
Phases of the moon, eclipses and tides
Lab: Solar Motion Demonstrator
Lab: Phases of the Moon
ch. 5 Exam 1
7-8 Planetary Motion
Ancient astronomical discovery from Aristotle to Ptolemy
Modern Astronomy: Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler, Galileo, Newton
Lab: Geocentric/Heliocentric Cosmology
ch. 2 Quiz 2
9-10 The Nature of Light and Optics
The electromagnetic spectrum
An introduction to spectroscopy
ch. 3, 4 Quiz 3
Exam 2
11-12 Stars and Stellar Evolution
Stellar parallax and distance
The nature and life cycle of stars
Stellar class and the H-R diagram
Lab: H-R Diagrams
Foundations III
ch. 10
Quiz 4
13 Our Star: The Sun Foundations II
ch. 9
14-15 The Solar System
Planets and moons
Interplanetary vagabonds (asteroids and comets)
Foundations IV
ch. 6-8
Exam 3
  Contemporary issues involving space exploration
Exploration of the solar system and beyond
The search for extraterrestrial life
16-17 Introduction to Advanced Astronomy (the best is yet to come!)
Galaxies and the Milky Way
Quasars, pulsars, neutron stars, black holes
Foundations IV
ch. 14-16
Quiz 5
18 Cosmology and the creation of the Universe
The Big Bang and the expansion of the Universe
Unifying theories: "Where do we fit in?"
  Exam 4

Astronomy: Guidelines & Expectations

Study Guide and Notes for Astronomy

We are partners in learning. During this course, you will have the opportunity to discover things about our Solar System and Universe that should amaze and fascinate you. I will make every effort to present this material in an interesting, informative, and provocative way. However, attending class and paying attention will probably not be all you need to do to achieve success here. I expect you to study at least 1 hour each day (7-10 hours/week), outside of class, so you may fully understand and assimilate this material. You need to make this effort.

Come to class on time. Students are expected to be in their assigned seat at the tone that marks the beginning of the period. Three or more unexcused tardies will result in disciplinary action. Each student is expected to exhibit appropriate classroom behavior. Disruptions and annoyances that interfere with students’ ability to learn will not be tolerated. The use of cell phones or other electronic devices will not be permitted during class.

Be prepared each day with your text (if requested), notebook, pen or pencil, calculator, and an active mind. Please don’t ask to borrow a pen, pencil, calculator, or mind.

If you miss a day, you miss a lot. It will be your responsibility to make up all work due to absence. Immediately upon your return to class, you should make an appointment with me to discuss what you have missed. Failure to do so may result in no credit (grade of 0) awarded for the assignments missed. Be sure to contact a responsible classmate to obtain notes you missed during your absence.

Assignments need to be completed on time. Work turned in late (except for absences noted above) will receive a grade reduction of 50% for the first day and will not be accepted beyond that time (grade of 0). Many of these assignments require several days to complete. Do not wait until the night before the due date to attempt to complete these tasks.

Your submitted assignments must be just that...yours. Cheating, including plagiarism, will not be tolerated. Penalties for this type of infraction will be severe, up to and including an F in the course.

Grading Procedure: Students receive their grade based upon the total number of points earned from the following assessments:

Tests and quizzes: 40% Grading scale: A 93-100 A- 90-92
Laboratory exercises and observations: 40%   B+ 88-89 B 82-87 B- 80-81
Class activities (i.e. projects, reports, homework): 20%   C+ 78-79 C 72-77 C- 70-71
  D+ 68-69 D 62-67 D- 60-61
            F < 60

This is an "elective" course. I am assuming you are here because you want to learn about Astronomy. To do well, your work needs to be completed on time and be a reflection of your best efforts.

Please also take a moment to read this letter from the National Commission on Excellence in Education.