ASTR100: Introduction to
Sections 0101-0106, Spring 2016
Prof: Sylvain Veilleux
Phone: (301) 405-0282
Email: veilleux @ astro.umd.edu
Office: PSC 1109
Office Hours: TuTh 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Textbook: Pathways to Astronomy (Fourth Edition),
by Steven Schneider & Thomas Arny, 2014 (ISBN-13: 978-0-07-351224-2).
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 are formed gives us a better perspective
on our place in the universe and how special planet Earth is to our
meet in PHYS 1412 on TuTh from 9:30am to 10:45am. Lectures are led by
the professor and will include several demonstrations, slides, videos, etc.
Discussion Sections meet
in CSS 2400 at times listed below starting the week of
February 1. Discussion sections are led by 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 hold review sessions before exams.
You may have chosen this course as part of your CORE Distributive
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!
This course counts for non-lab science CORE credit. ASTR101 (General
Astronomy) satisfies 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.
Attendance: In order to succeed in this course, I
expect you to attend ALL lectures and discussion sections. This is
very important! The material on the homeworks and exams are based upon
the material covered in the lectures, the text, and discussion
sections. 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. See me or the teaching assistant if you have questions.
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 some time 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.
Grades 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 single component will dominate your
grade. However, this also means that it is imperative that you
complete all assignments. Zeros on multiple homeworks will set you
back in a big way!
||Exam I||Exam II
Letter grades will be assigned based upon your curved 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.
This 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. Only letter grades will be issued; there
will be no +/-'s awarded except possibly for some A+ grades for
There will be two in-class one-hour examinations which will be held in
PHYS 1412 on the dates noted in the
lecture schedule. These exams are closed
book with no notes, calculators, cell phones, ipods, or implants
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. If
official closures (e.g., due to snow) before an exam affect the
material covered, either the affected material will be omitted,
or the exam date may be altered, as deemed appropriate.
As per University rules, the final exam for this course will
be held on Friday, May 13 from 8:00 am to 10:00 am in PHYS
1412. This final exam is cumulative, that is, 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
the weight on these units will be higher than on earlier
units. The final will include multiple choice, essay and problem
solving questions, greatly resembling a longer version of the
midterms. This exam is also closed book with no notes, no computers,
no calculators allowed. Please bring a pencil and your ID card to the
Missed Single Lectures or Discussion Sections
We will follow University policy: we will accept as an excused absence
a self-signed note from a student who has missed a single lecture or
discussion section that is not an exam day or a day when
homework is due, attesting to the date of the illness. The
note must also contain an acknowledgement by the student that the
information is true and correct and that providing false information
is prohibited under the Code of Student Conduct. The student is also
obligated to make a reasonable attempt to inform us of his/her illness
in advance. For multiple medically necessitated absences we will
require documented evidence in the form of a doctor's note. For the
policies on exams and homeworks, see below.
The first rule of missing exams is:
DON'T DO IT!
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
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.
- contact me (by e-mail) before you miss the
regularly-scheduled exam and
- submit a valid written excuse for your absence within one
week after the regularly-scheduled exam.
Your weekly 50-minute discussion section, which begins the week of
February 1, is an integral part of this course. The sections are run
by the TAs, with just general guidelines from me; they will generally
include a review of lecture material, presentation of problems and
material not covered in lecture, exercises and quizzes etc. 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
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.
|| Abbie Petulante
astro100-0101 @ astro.umd.edu
Wed. and Thu. 11 am - noon
|| Jacob Shpiece
astro100-0102 @ astro.umd.edu
Tue. and Thu. 2:00 - 3:00 pm
|| Noah Kasmanoff
astro100-0103 @ astro.umd.edu
Wed. 10:00 - 11:30 am
|| Blake Hartley
astro100-0104 @ astro.umd.edu
Thu. and Fri. 2:00 - 3:00 pm
|| Blake Hartley
astro100-0105 @ astro.umd.edu
Thu. and Fri. 2:00 - 3:00 pm
|| Brittany Wheatley
astro100-0106 @ astro.umd.edu
Mon. 2:00 - 3:00 pm, Wed. 1:00 - 2:00 pm
There are a total of six homeworks in this course. All homeworks
are included with this syllabus and can also be obtained from the
Assignments link from the class website. You are required to
submit your homeworks in PDF format to your TA, at the e-mail
address email@example.com, where the ? means your
section number (e.g., if you are in section 105, you would e-mail
your PDF solutions to the homework to firstname.lastname@example.org).
These need to be typed in, not scanned handwriting; scans can be
very difficult to read.
All homeworks are due at 9:30 am of the due date
(i.e., at the beginning of class). Homeworks turned in after class
begins will be considered late and penalized 20%. After the end of
class on the due date, no more homework will be accepted. Note that
electronic submission means that you can turn in your assignment
electronically before you leave home, or even if you are sick. If you
experience a valid emergency, you must write me an email
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 as soon as possible and, in any event,
absolutely no later than the beginning 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.
Although you may discuss the homework problems with your friends,
the final writeup must be in your own words. Copying
from a friend's homework, copying from a book or websites, or allowing
a friend to copy your homework is academic dishonesty (see Academic Integrity below) and will not be tolerated in
this class. Moreover, it is remarkably easy to spot this form of
cheating, so expect to be caught if you try it. The penalty is quite
severe (again, see Academic Integrity). If you
consult a reference other than the course text, please acknowledge it
in your homework - this includes websites!
There will be no extra credit papers. The following are the
only ways to earn extra credit in this class:
Because there will be points of extra credit available throughout the
semester, there will not be any extra assignments if, e.g., you miss a
- Do the Extra Credit questions on each homework assignment.
- Attend class: I will ask questions worth bonus points.
- Your TAs may give some extra credit in their discussion sections.
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. The open house includes a
speaker talking about some aspect of astronomy. Following this short
talk, there is public viewing of the heavens with the observatory's
telescopes (weather permitting). This is your best
opportunity to look through a real telescope. It's fun, so I
encourage you to do it!
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 contains links to course information (including the contents of
this syllabus), 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.
It is very important to get your feedback about the course. This
allows us to improve the course for future students. Moreover, if you
supply evaluations, it grants you access to the evaluations provided
by other students - a very useful resource in planning your future
schedule. An announcement will be made in class when courses are open
for evaluation late in the semester.
Students with a documented disability should let me know as soon as
possible (preferably on the first day of class) so that appropriate
academic accommodations can be made.
The academic community at the University abides by a Code of Academic
Integrity, and this section uses parts of that code. 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, a book, or websites, allowing
your homework or paper to be copied, and submitting forged excuses for
absences from exams are violations of this code. If we suspect that an
incident of academic dishonesty has occurred, we will typically 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 and is printed in full in the Undergraduate Catalog;
see this site if
you have any questions about academic integrity or what is construed
as academic dishonesty. We are very serious about
The basic principle is simple: everything you submit should be in
your own words. Note that changing just a small number of
words in a sentence is not sufficient; we want your thoughts,
not those of others.
* A surprising number of people do not seem to know what
A common example is cutting & pasting material from the internet into your
homework. It is wrong to submit the work of others as if it were your own.