ASTR101: General Astronomy
Lab Policies

Purpose of Lab

The ASTR101 Labs are intended to let you work through some key projects that astronomers have done to advance our state of knowledge. In these labs, we will emphasize how observational data can be effectively used to study the Universe. Measurements are never perfect, and this fact leads to real and unavoidable uncertainties in the determination of physical quantities. We hope that lab will help you gain an appreciation for the careful and detailed measurements that scientists make. Lab, like lecture, is not about memorizing miscellaneous astronomical facts. Recurring themes in these labs include i) How do we know how far away and how big things are? ii) How do we find patterns in data? and iii) How do we use these patterns to predict things? We emphasize logical thinking, independent discovery, and teamwork. Labs start close to home in the Solar System and gradually work their way outward to the edge of the Universe, just as lectures do. Sometimes lectures will be a little ahead of labs and sometimes labs will be a little ahead.

Lab Reports

  • It is best to read this week's lab before coming to class.
  • For each lab, you will need to write responses into an ELMS quiz, so bring a laptop or at least your smartphone to class. You will typically work together in teams, but your writeups on ELMS must be in your own words. Please identify in your ELMS writeup the people that you worked with.
  • Put your cell phones away and keep them off during class, unless using them for the ELMS writeup.
  • All ELMS writeups must be completed in class. In special situations, with TA permission, labs may be finished outside class.
  • Labs material complements lecture material and should therefore help you prepare for ASTR101 Exams.
  • Each lab is worth about 75 lab points (= 15 class points).

    Missed Labs

  • Try not to miss a lab, but if you must your lowest lab grade in the semester will be dropped.
  • If you must miss your lab and want the chance to make it up, you must contact your TA by email before your lab meets.
  • If you contact your TA by email within 24 hours after missing a lab, you will need to explain the reason for your delay.
  • If you fail to contact your TA by 24 hours after a missed class, your absence is automatically unexcused.
  • You each start the semester with one free pass that can be used to excuse an absence in lab or discussion section for any reason, as long as you let your TA know of your absence in advance. This pass may be used any time during the semester.
  • The university recognizes these excuses for missing class: religious holidays, university-approved travel or activities, illness, and compelling circumstances beyond your control. These excuses do not require your free pass.
  • Compelling circumstances include, for example, car trouble or a death in the family. Your TA will decide on other situations and will let you know whether you can or cannot make up lab.
  • If your TA approves your excuse, you will be able to make up lab during the week of the next Exam.
  • Your TA will let you know exactly when the makeup session will be; it may be at a non-standard time.
  • An unexcused absence for a Lab result in a zero.

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