ASTR220: Collisions in
Room: CSS 2400
Time: TuTh 11:00am to 12:15pm, Fall 1999
Prof: Stacy McGaugh
tel: (301) 405-7897
Office: CSS 1251
Office Hours: Wed 2-3:30pm or by appointment
tel: (301) 405-1550
Office: CSS 0224
Office Hours: Fri 10:30am-12:00 noon
Astronomy 220 is an introductory course in astronomy for non-science
majors. This course satisfies the CORE distributive studies
requirement for a non-laboratory physical science. As specified by
the CORE guidelines, this course will focus on active learning
techniques, emphasize critical thinking, and concentrate on written
expression. In this class you will explore collisions on various
levels in the Universe. The course is built around three themes:
collisions in the Solar System, collisions between stars, and
collisions between galaxies. As you scan the syllabus, you should be
able to recognize these three areas of concentration. This theme
approach will expose you to most of the objects that would be covered
in a survey of astronomy, but will allow us to probe more deeply into
some of the problems astronomers are currently researching. I will
also try to keep you informed of new discoveries made.
Most of you are probably taking ASTR220 to fulfill your general
education science requirement. I hope you chose this class because it
sounded more interesting to you than your other options. Maybe it was
all that would fit into your schedule. An educated individual should
appreciate science and what scientists do, so let's make the most of
I'm excited about astronomy, and I hope that you will be too! During
this semester you will learn about amazing objects and spectacular events
in our universe. You will consider answers to some fundamental
questions that people have argued about over the years. How
frequently do comets and asteroids collide with Earth? What happened
to the dinosaurs? Do stars or galaxies ever collide? What would
collisions between bodies in space be like? What will happen when the
Attendance: In order to successfully complete this
course I expect you to attend class. This is very
important! If you have to miss a lecture, be sure to look at another
student's notes and make sure that you understand what was covered.
See me or the teaching assistant if you have questions. In lecture,
there will be times when I ask for small groups or individuals to
discuss a question and turn in a written response (participation
points). The syllabus cover sheet to be turned in at the beginning of
next class will be worth 2 pts. toward participation. There are also
times (see Lecture Schedule) when students will complete an in-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 the TA. We are here to help you learn.
I grade on a point scale with different assignments weighted as shown below.
Exams & Final: Exams will consist of multiple
choice questions and questions that require a written response.
University regulations will apply regarding academic dishonesty and
excused absences. See the Schedule of Classes, page 35 for these
policies. 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
contact me on or before the day of the exam. Arrangements for make up
exams must be completed no more than one week after the scheduled exam
Quizzes & Homeworks: There are three quizzes
and four homework assignments worth 12 points each. There are no
make-up quizzes or homeworks, and late homework assignments will not be
accepted. Instead, I will count everyone's fourth
homework assignment as extra credit. That is, you may miss any one of these
seven assignments without penalty, but you will receive credit if
you do them all.
Participation: To be excused without penalty
from any other scheduled activity requires a valid excuse and
notification on or before the day you are absent. You can always
leave me a voice mail message at (301) 405-7897.
Extra Credit: Any extra credit will be posted on
the ASTR220 homepage so that all students may participate. There will
be no extra credit term papers, and no assignments will be accepted
after the last day of class.
Here is how your grade will be determined from your point total in
The point scale makes it possible for everyone in the class to do
well. For example, if everyone scores above 75% 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. Students with a documented disability who
wish to discuss academic accommodations should contact me as soon as
Textbooks and Handouts
- Cosmic Catastrophes by Chapman and Morrison, 1989.
- Colliding Galaxies by Parker, 1990.
- Supplementary handouts
will be distributed regularly in lecture.
Students are responsible for material on these handouts as well as
material presented in the lectures and textbooks.
The homepage for this course
(http://www.astro.umd.edu/~ssm/ASTR220/) will contain links to
course information, supplementary readings, and interactive programs.
Return to the ASTR220 Homepage
Last modified: Tue Aug 31 1999