ASTR100: Introduction to
Sections 0101-0107, Fall 2006
Prof: Cole Miller
Phone: (301) 405-1037
E-mail: miller (@astro.umd.edu)
Office: CSS 1239
Office Hours: TuTh 11:00am-noon, or by appointment
Pathways to Astronomy by Schneider and Arny
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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+.
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.
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
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 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
1) contact me (by voice- or e-mail) before you miss the
regularly-scheduled exam and
Traffic is not an excuse! Plan to come to campus
at least half an hour before the exam, as a hedge against problems.
2) document a valid excuse for
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.
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.
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| Alexandra Lockwood
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Noon - 1:00 PM
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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.
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
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:
- Attend class: I might ask questions or give assignments worth
- Do the extra credit questions on each homework assignment.
- Do any extra credit in your discussion section.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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