ASTR100: Introduction to
Sections 0101-0107, Fall 2010
Office: CSS 1251
Phone: (301) 405-7897
Office Hours: Tu 11am-noon & W 2:30-3:30pm
Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals
by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit.
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.
Discussion sections are led by graduate student
Teaching Assistants (TAs). The sections
provide a smaller and more informal environment for further developing
the material taught in class and answering questions that arise.
Activities in section account for over 20% of you course grade,
so attendance and participation are important.
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.
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 the 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 the discussion
sections. We find that when grading exams,
it is very obvious which lectures you missed. People who attend
class inevitably earn better grades.
If you have to miss a lecture or section, be sure to check what you
missed (ask a friend!) 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.
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 thing will dominate 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 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.
There will be two in-class examinations which will be held
in PHYS 1412 on the dates noted in the
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 impact the
material covered, either the impacted 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 Tuesday, December 14 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
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 voice or e-mail) before you miss the
regularly-scheduled exam and
- document a valid excuse for your absence.
Your weekly 50-minute discussion sections
are an integral part of this course.
The sections are run
by the TAs, with general guidelines from the professor. They will
review lecture material, present problems and
material not covered in lecture, and may have their own exercises and
sections serve as a forum to enhance your understanding of the course
material. Your TAs are an excellent resource - get to know them.
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.
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.
Please type or write up your assignments
neatly. Solutions will be posted on the course web page and
discussed in Section.
All homeworks are due in class at 9:30 am (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. If for some reason you
cannot turn the homework in person, you should ask a friend to turn
it in for you. 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 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 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
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:
Do not fall behind then come asking for extra credit
assignments at the end of the semester. This won't happen.
- Do the Extra Credit questions on each homework assignment.
- Attend class: I may ask questions or give assignments worth
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, which I encourage you to take advantage of.
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 (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 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. 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 Schedule of
Classes and 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. This is serious.
* 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.
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