ASTR100: Introduction to Astronomy
Sections 0101-0107, Fall 2006

Class Meetings:

Lectures meet in PHYS 1412 on TuTh from 9:30am to 10:45am.
Lectures are led by the professor and will include demonstrations, slides, videos etc.

Discussion Sections meet in CSS 2400 at times listed below starting on September 7 (the SECOND week of classes). Discussion sections are led by graduate students Teaching Assistants (TAs). The sections provide a smaller and more informal environment for further developing the material taught in class. The TAs will also answer questions about the lectures and reading and will review material before exams.

Course Description:

Welcome to Astronomy 100! You are about to embark on an ambitious project - to survey our known Universe in one short semester. We hope that you'll find this course enjoyable and walk away with a better knowledge and understanding of the universe that we live in. With that goal in mind, the course attempts to focus on major concepts in astronomy and where possible tie those concepts into issues relevant to your life. For example, global warming, an important worldwide issue for the 21st century, is also central to understanding the differences between the environments of Venus, Mars, and Earth. At a more philosophical level, understanding how our universe works and how planets, stars, and galaxies form and evolve gives us a better perspective on our place in the universe and how special planet Earth is to our continued survival.

You may have chosen this course as part of your CORE Liberal Arts and Sciences Studies Program, the general education portion of your degree program. CORE Distributive Studies courses are designed to ensure that you will take a look at several different academic disciplines and the way they create and analyze knowledge about the world. A faculty and student committee approved this CORE Distributive Studies course because it will introduce you to ideas and issues that are central to a major intellectual discipline and because it promises to involve you actively in the learning process. Please take advantage of the opportunities this course offers you.

Course Expectations:

Attendance: In order to succeed in this course, I expect you to attend the lectures and discussion sections. This is very important! The material on the homeworks and exams is based upon the material covered in the lectures, the text, and the discussion sections. We find that when grading exams, it is very obvious which lectures you missed. If you have to miss a lecture or section, be sure to look at another student's notes and make sure that you understand what was covered. There will be times during the semester, in both lectures and sections, when we may ask for written responses to questions. Your written answers will count towards your grade in the class.

Preparation: I expect you to be prepared to work. You will understand the lecture more easily if you preview the reading assignment. A more careful reading is recommended after lecture. You should study your class notes sometime before the next lecture to make sure that everything is clear. I encourage you to ask questions.

Study Habits: Study wisely and ask for help if you need it. If you just cram the night before the exam, you probably will not do very well. It is better (and easier) if you keep up with the material on a daily basis. If you have questions, please see me or one of the TAs. We are here to help you learn.


Grade are based on a point scale with different assignments weighted as shown in the table. The points are distributed across a variety of exercises so that no one thing will dominate your grade: blowing a single exam will not kill your grade. However, this also means that it is imperative that you complete all assignments. Zeros on multiple homeworks fail to add up in a big way!

Exam I
Exam II

Letter grades will be assigned based upon your cumulative score. Grades for some discussion sections may be adjusted slightly so that the average grade given by each TA is similar. Here is how your grade will be determined from your point total in the class.

Letter Grade
Course Total

The point scale makes it possible for everyone in the class to do well. For example, if everyone scores above 80% in the course, you would all receive either an A or a B letter grade. I may adjust the number of points required to get a given grade depending on the class averages; however, any adjustment will make it easier to get a given grade, never more difficult. No plus and minus grades will be assigned, except that students who perform exceptionally well could get an A+.

Midterm Exams

There will be two in-class examinations which will be held in PHYS 1412 on Thursday, October 12 and Thursday, November 9. These exams are closed book with no notes or calculators allowed. Each exam will consist of multiple choice questions, essay questions, and problem solving questions. The schedule of lectures included in this syllabus shows what material will be covered on each exam. Please bring a pencil and your ID card to each exam (including the final).

If for whatever reason, the University is officially closed on the exam date, the exam date shifts to the next lecture date.

Final Exam

As per University rules, the final exam for this course will be held on Friday, December 15 from 8:00 am to 10:00 am in PHYS 1412. This final exam is cumulative; it will cover all material discussed in this course. However, since the material which comes after the second midterm will not have been covered by the midterm exams (see Lecture Schedule), the weight on these chapters will be higher than on earlier chapters. The final will include multiple choice, essay, and problem solving questions, greatly resembling a longer version of the midterms.

Missed Exams

The first rule of missing exams is:

If you are not able to take an exam due to illness or other legitimate reasons (as outlined in the Academic Info section of the schedule of classes) and you wish to take a make-up exam, you must

Traffic is not an excuse! Plan to come to campus at least half an hour before the exam, as a hedge against problems.
Make-up exams must be taken promptly. In the case of the final exam, you must arrange for a make-up final within 48 hours after the scheduled exam, and preferably much sooner as final grades must be submitted shortly after the date of the final.

Discussion Sections

Your weekly 50-minute discussion section, which begins the week of September 4, is an integral part of this course. The sections are run by the TAs, with general guidelines from me. They will review lecture material, present problems and material not covered in lecture, and may have their own exercises and quizzes. These sections serve as a forum to enhance your understanding of the course material. Your TAs are an excellent resource; get to know them and use that resource! Homeworks, Exams, and other work will be returned to you during your discussion section. Please attend all your discussion sections. If for some reason you have to miss a section meeting, you may go to one of the other section meetings offered by your TA that week if you get permission from him or her to do so.

Be sure to attend the discussion section for which you registered. The only way to switch sections is through the registrar's office; unofficial changes are not allowed.

Discussion Time
TA Name
M......... 9:00am- 9:50am
CSS 2400
M..... 10:00am-10:50am
CSS 2400
M..... 11:00am- 11:50am
CSS 2400
F......... 11:00am-11:50am
CSS 2400
Th........ 1:00pm- 1:50pm
CSS 2400
F..... 9:00am-9:50pm
CSS 2400
CSS 2400

Teaching Assistants

TA Name
Office Hours
David Garofalo
CSS 0253
11:00 AM - Noon
Jane Gilhooly
CSS 1107
Mon Noon-1, Thu 3-4
Edmund Hodges-Kluck
CSS 0228

Alexandra Lockwood
CSS 1246
Noon - 1:00 PM
Yana Radeva
CSS 0224
3:30-4:30 PM


There are a total of seven homeworks in this course. All homeworks can be obtained from the Assignments link from the class website. Homework #1 is the survey cover sheet handed out in class. Please type or write up your assignments neatly. Solutions will be discussed in Section.

All homeworks are due in class at 9:30 am (i.e., at the beginning of class). Homeworks turned in after 9:45 am, but on the day the homework is due, will be considered late and docked 5 points. Homework turned in after the due day but before 9:45 am the next class will be docked 10 points. After 9:45 am the class after the homework is due, no credit will be given. If for some reason you cannot turn the homework in person, you should ask a friend to turn it in for you (no documentation needed), or e-mail the homework to your TA (in which case you need to provide written documentation of why you couldn't have the paper turned in directly; we don't want to burden our TAs with too many e-mails!). If you experience a valid emergency, you must write me an email or leave me a voice mail message before the due date telling me why you will be late. In this case, you must secure a valid written excuse and arrange with me to have the homework turned in to me as soon as possible and, in any event, absolutely no later than 9:45 AM of the next lecture.

If for whatever reason, the University is officially closed on the due date, the due date shifts to the next lecture date.

All work you turn in must be your own, written by you. If you quote any source at all, you must indicate the source and also indicate which portion of your writing you took from that source (a good way is to use quotation marks). This includes, but is not limited to, any part of our textbook, any other books, and any website. Working with others is encouraged, but your writeups must be entirely separate. This means more than a single word per sentence difference from a source or a friend; these must be your own thoughts. See the Academic Integrity link below for more details. If you have questions about whether a particular situation constitutes inappropriate assistance, please discuss it with your TA or professor before handing in the assignment.

Open House

The astronomy department hosts an open house on the 5th and 20th of each month at the university observatory which is located just off campus on Metzerott Road. You are not required to attend an open house, but it might be fun. Each open house consists of a speaker talking about some aspect of astronomy. Following this short talk, there will be public viewing of the heavens with the observatory's telescopes (weather permitting). Dress warmly as you will be outside when using the telescopes! A list of scheduled speakers and topics, as well as information about a shuttle service that can take you to the observatory, is available online at

Extra Credit

There will be no extra credit papers and no make up of missed homeworks. The following are the only ways to earn extra credit in this class:

Class Web Page

The World Wide Web is a very useful resource that we will make use of in this class. All students should obtain a computer account, which will include email and internet access. If you do not already have one, get a WAM account. (This can be done in CSS 1400, one floor down from your section class room.) The webpage for this course is

It will contain links to course information, supplementary readings, and interactive programs to make ASTR100 fun and to help you learn. In addition, this site is also a gateway to many other astronomy links, including sites with up-to-date astronomical images that are made available to the public from telescopes in space and on the ground.

Special Circumstances

Students with a documented disability should let me know as soon as possible (preferably on the first day of class) so that appropriate accommodations can be made.

Academic Integrity

The academic community at the University abides by a Code of Academic Integrity. Acts of academic dishonesty include cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, and plagiarism. Activities such as cheating on exams or quizzes, copying homework from a friend or book, allowing your homework or paper to be copied, and submitting forged excuses for absences from exams are violations of this code.
The guiding principle is simple: You must write up everything yourself, in your own words! If you do use any sources (including, but not limited to, our textbook or other textbooks, any websites, and other online materials), you must cite your source and put quotes around the phrase you used.
If we suspect that an incident of academic dishonesty has occurred, we will turn the case over to the Student Honor Council to investigate and resolve. If the suspected party is judged `responsible' for the act(s) of academic dishonesty, the normal sanction is a course grade of `XF' which denotes failure due to academic dishonesty. This grade is recorded onto the student's academic transcript. The Code of Academic Integrity can be found in the Academic Info section of the Schedule of Classes. It is printed in full in the Undergraduate Catalog and on the web at Please refer to this Code if you have further questions about what is construed as academic dishonesty. This university is very serious about this.

Core Requirements

ASTR100 is intended for non-science majors and requires no more than a modest, high-school level science and math background. This course satisfies the CORE Distributive Studies requirement for a non-lab physical science course (CORE code PS). To satisfy the CORE Distributive Studies requirement for a lab physical science course (CORE code PL), this course must be taken simultaneously with ASTR 111 (Observational Astronomy Lab). Alternatively, you may take ASTR101 (General Astronomy) in order to satisfy the CORE requirement for a lab physical science course. Note that you cannot get credit for both ASTR100 and ASTR101. Please be sure that you have chosen the correct course.

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