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Sections 0201 -- 0206

Spring 1997

Instructor: Dr. Sylvain Veilleux

Contacts: Office: CSS 0223, Tel: 405-0282, Email:

Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:30 am -- 12:00 pm, or by appointment

Lectures: Mondays -- Wednesdays -- Fridays at 9:00 am -- 9:50 am in Room PHY 1412

Discussion Sections: 50 minutes in Room CSS 2400 or CSS 1113 (see below)

Home Page:

Text: Explorations: An Introduction to Astronomy, by Thomas Arny (ISBN 0-8151-0717)

Teaching Assistants:

Core Requirements:

This course 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) or you must take ASTR 101 (General Astronomy). Please be sure that you have chosen the correct course.

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 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 90's, 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 continued survival.

Most of you 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!


The grades for this course will be based upon five components as listed below. A description of each of these components is contained in this syllabus.

Letter grades will be assigned based upon your curved cumulative score. Grades for some discussion sections may be scaled appropriately so that the average grade given by each TA is similar.


I will not take attendance during lecture. Your teaching assistant (TA) will let you know about their policy concerning attendance in the discussion sections. However, since the material on the homeworks and exams are based upon the material covered in the lectures, the text, and discussion sections, I expect you to attend all the lectures and discussion sections. Moreover, I reserve the right at the end of the lecture to ask you a few questions addressing issues discussed during that particular lecture. The scores on your written answers will count as extra credits towards your grade.


There will be two in-class 50-minute examinations which will be held in PHYS 1412 on Monday, March 17 and Wednesday, April 16. These exams are closed book with no notes and no calculators allowed. Each exam will consist of 20 multiple choice questions worth 3 points each and four essay or problem solving questions worth 20 points each. Thus, each exam is worth 140 points. These exams are incremental (i.e., non-cumulative) checkups on how well you have learned the material. Please see the lecture layout in this syllabus to find out what material will be covered on each exam. Please bring a pencil and your ID card to each exam (this includes the Final).

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


According to University rules, the final exam for this course will be held on Saturday, May 17 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 chapters 11 - 16 will not be covered by any of the 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 with the exact combination to be determined.

This exam is also closed book with no notes and no calculators allowed. Please bring a pencil and your ID card to the final.

Missed Exams/Finals:

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 submit a valid written excuse for your absence within one week after the regularly scheduled exam. An ORAL make-up exam of 50 min duration will then be given within one week after you submit the valid written excuse.

If you miss the final exam and have a valid written excuse, you must arrange for an ORAL make-up exam within 48 hours after the scheduled final. This oral exam will be of 2 hr duration and will be cumulative.


Your weekly hour long discussion section is an integral part of this course; they account for 20% of your course grade. These sections will generally include review of lecture material, going over problems and material not covered in lecture, doing mini-exercises and quizzes and the like. These sections serve as a forum to enhance your understanding of the course material. Your TAs are an excellent resource. They are here to help you learn. So get to know them and use that resource. As indicated above (see Attendance), aside from general guidelines from me, the sections are run entirely by the TAs and they will tell you what to expect in detail. Please attend all your discussion sections. If you miss a section meeting, you may go to one of the other section meetings offered by your TAs that week.

At least one of the mini-exercises will require accessing the World-Wide-Web on the Internet. One place you can do this is from the WAM labs. We will provide you with information sheets on how to access the World-Wide-Web, and arrange for demonstrations by experiment users also taking the class. Note that there is a homepage for this course (listed on the first page), which contains this syllabus, schedules, assignments, and other information. It also provides a way to email the instructors, which is one way you can communicate with us to ask questions.

Be sure to attend the discussion section meetings for which you registered:


There will be eight homeworks in total in this course. The list of problems in each homework is included at the end of this syllabus. Homework #1 is worth 10 points and is due in class next Monday, Feb. 3 -- I will collect the homeworks at the beginning of class. The other seven homeworks will be weighed equally. Together, the eight homeworks count for approximately 1/6 of the course grade, i.e., they are worth a total of 150 points. The due dates for the homeworks are

The homeworks are due in class at 9:00 am (i.e., at the beginning of class) on those dates. After the end of class on the due date, no more homework will be accepted. If for some reason you cannot turn it in in person, you should ask a friend to turn it in for you. If you experienced a valid emergency, you must find a phone and leave a message with my voice mail telling me why you would 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 the beginning of the next lecture. Homework solutions will be posted outside the TAs' offices by the next lecture after the due date.

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 allowing a friend to copy your homework is academic dishonesty (see Academic Integrity below) and will not be tolerated in this class. If you did consult a reference other than the course text, please acknowledge it in your homework.

Open House:

Each person in this course is required to attend one open house session at the university observatory which is located just off campus on Metzerott Road. A shuttle service will be available to take you to the observatory. The exact schedule and pick-up location for the shuttle buses will be given in class prior to each open house. Alternatively, if you wish to go by yourself, your TA can give you specific directions on how to get there. These open houses take place on the 5th and 20th of each month. Each open house consists of a speaker talking about some aspect of astronomy. Following this short talk and weather permitting, there will be public viewing of the heavens with the observatory's telescopes. Dress warmly as you will be outside when using the telescopes!

Your open house assignment consists of two parts: (1) a written description (including the name of the speaker) summarizing the talk. You should also include a brief description of the interesting question(s) that were asked along with the answer(s) given by the speaker. (2) Describe what you observed. You are encouraged to include (legible) drawings in this description. The paper must be typed and please keep the total length to no more than 3 pages. Please proofread and check the spelling before you turn in your paper. If weather did not permit observing, say so in your report. In this case, in lieu of (2), you should give a brief description of the observatory (there will be an observatory tour given by a graduate student in astronomy).

To avoid everyone rushing to the observatory at the last minute, we will adopt the following policy. There shall be three due dates for this report. For those that go early in the semester, the first due date is Friday, March 14. Papers turned in (at lecture) on this date will be awarded 15 extra credit points. The second due date is Wednesday, April 16. Paper turned in (at lecture) on this date will be awarded 10 extra credit points. The third and final due date is Monday, May 12. Paper turned in (at lecture) on this date will receive NO extra credit point. When you go to the observatory, you will be asked to write down your name, course, and section number so that we know when you went. Please note that in order to obtain extra credit, you must turn in your paper on either of the first two due dates. If you went to the observatory early in the semester but do not turn in your paper until the last due date, you will not receive extra credit. This is in part to encourage you to write the paper right after the open house experience when your memory of the event is still fresh in your mind.

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 academic accommodations can be arranged.

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. 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 Fall Schedule of Classes (p. 29). It is printed in full in the Undergraduate Catalog. Please refer to this Code if you have further questions about what is construed as academic dishonesty. We are very serious about this.

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Sylvain Veilleux
Wed Jan 29 16:16:07 EST 1997