ASTR101: General Astronomy
Lab Policies

Purpose of Lab

The ASTR101 Labs are intended to let you work through some key projects that astronomers have done to advance our state of knowledge. In these labs, we will emphasize how observational data can be effectively used to study the Universe. Measurements are never perfect, and this fact leads to real and unavoidable uncertainties in the determination of physical quantities. We hope that lab will help you gain an appreciation for the careful and detailed measurements that scientists make. Lab, like lecture, is not about memorizing miscellaneous astronomical facts. Recurring themes in these labs include i) How do we know how far away and how big things are? ii) How do we find patterns in data? and iii) How do we use these patterns to predict things? We emphasize logical thinking, independent discovery, and teamwork. Labs start close to home in the Solar System and gradually work their way outward to the edge of the Universe, just as lectures do. Sometimes lectures will be a little ahead of labs and sometimes labs will be a little ahead.

Lab Manual

  • Buy a copy of the Lab Manual and bring it to each lab meeting - you will usually need to tear pages from it to hand in.
  • If you lose your lab book, you must buy another.
  • If you forget your lab book, you may use one of our lab writeups for a 2 point penalty.
  • You may earn back the 2 points by bringing your TA a fresh copy of the lab from your lab book.
  • There is a packet of photographs in your lab manual. Put your name and section number on the packet and give it to your TA now.

    Lab Reports

  • It is best to read this week's lab before coming to class.
  • Never write in your lab book outside of class; all work must be done in class.
  • Put your cell phones away and keep them off during class.
  • Your lab report must be your own work. We expect you to do your own calculations and answer questions in your own words. Most weeks you will work with a partner to take data; these data, and these data only, may be copied to both your lab report and your partner's.
  • All lab reports must be turned in by you in person to your TA at the end of your lab period.
  • Each lab counts 15 points.
  • Labs should help you prepare for ASTR101 Exams, as these exams will cover lab material.

    Missed Labs

  • If you must miss your lab and want the chance to make it up, you must contact your TA by email before your lab meets.
  • If you contact your TA by email within 24 hours after missing a lab, you will need to explain the reason for your delay.
  • If you fail to contact your TA by 24 hours after a missed class, your absence is automatically unexcused.
  • You each start the semester with one automatically excused absence in lab, discussion, or section which may be used any time (as long as you let your TA know of your absence in advance).
  • The university recognizes these excuses for missing class: religious holidays, univerisity-approved travel or activities, illness, and compelling circumstances beyond your control.
  • Compelling circumstances include, for example, car trouble or a death in the family. Your TA will decide on other situations and will let you know whether you can or cannot make up lab.
  • If your TA approves your excuse, you will be able make up lab during the week of the next Exam.
  • Your TA will let you know exactly when the makeup session will be; it may be at a non-standard time.
  • An unexcused absence for a Lab result in a zero.


    Back to the ASTR101 Homepage