AST 301: Our Violent Universe I

Class Schedule: M W 11am-1:50pm Professor: Steve Liebling
Classroom: Pell Hall 232 Office:  Pell Hall 210
Text: Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit: The Cosmic Perspective (6th Edition) Office Hours: Mon Wed 8:30-9:30am
Web: Phone: 299-3439
Course Credit:: 4 credit-hours   Prerequisites:: high-school algebra Email:

Course Description: A broad survey of astronomy is presented, including aspects of astrophysics and cosmology, with minimal use of mathematics. Topics include the history of astronomy, the solar system, stellar evolution, and the large scale structure of the Universe. The course will also serve as an introduction to basic topics including gravity and light. The quesiton of mankind's place in the Universe as well as the importance of scientific inquiry will be addressed.

Course Objectives:

Grading Policy: Grades will basically follow the traditional divisions at 90% (A or A-), 80% (B+, B, B-), 70% (C+, C, C-), and 60% (D), with minimal adjustments based on how the class proceeds.
Labwork 15%
Project (details) 15%
Quizzes & Homework 15%
Classroom Participation 10%
Test 1 15%  
Test 2 15%
Final Exam 15%
Extra Credit: There will be no extra credit or extra credit papers, Do the homework, labs, and take the quizzes and tests. As the semester progresses, there is less and less to be done to increase your grade.

Class Participation: Everyone starts with 90%. Subtractions are made for being disruptive (excessive talking, ringing phones, being late, etc) as well as excessive absences. Additions are made for contributing (questions or answers) to class discussions.

Homework: Homework will be assigned in class, usually every week or two. Often the homework will consist of assignments from the publisher's class web page

Quizzes: The online, "basic" quizzes for each chapter that we cover is due by the date of the test which covers that chapter. You will be responsible for taking these quizzes online (and outside of class) before the deadline.

Labs: This class has an integral lab component which counts toward your grade for the course. We will have various types of labs: computer labs, DIY labs at home, observations, and in class labs.

Tests: The class will have two tests on the dates indicated on the syllabus. The tests will be given during classtime.

Final: The final will be held at the time dictated by the Registrar during Exam Week.

Academic Honesty: You are encouraged to work on homework problems with others. However, you must work alone on quizzes and tests. On quizzes and exams you may use only a calculator and writing utensils (no cell phones, PDAs, etc). All the work you turn in must be your own.

Other Resources: Tutors, library books, office hours, supplemental texts, and study groups.

Syllabus: Below is the anticipated schedule of what we'll cover. The dates of the tests are fixed; on principle I do not change them so that students can plan for them. Near the end of the semester, I generally have flexibility in what we cover. If you have a preference for what we might cover, please feel free to provide feedback.

Week 1 Sept. 5   Course Overview
Week 2 Sept. 10 Our Place in the Universe   Ch. 1  
Sept. 12 Discovering the Universe for Yourself   Ch. 2  
Week 3 Sept. 17   Ch. 2 
Sept. 19 The Science of Astronomy   Ch. 3  
Week 4 Sept. 24   Ch. 3  
Sept. 26 Celestial Timekeeping and Navigation   S1  
Week 5 Oct. 1 Test 1  Test 1 
Oct. 3 Making Sense of the Universe   Ch. 4  
Week 6 Oct. 8 NO Class   NO Class 
Oct. 10   Ch. 4  
Week 7 Oct. 15 Light and Matter   Ch. 5  
Oct. 17   Ch. 5   Project Part 1 Due
Week 8 Oct. 22 Telescopes   Ch. 6  
Oct. 24   Ch. 6  
Week 9 Oct. 29 Our Planetary System   Ch. 7  
Oct. 31   Ch. 7  
Week 10 Nov. 5 Formation of the Solar System   Ch. 8  
Nov. 7     Ch. 8  
Week 11 Nov. 12. Test 2 Test 2
Nov. 14 Planetary Geology   Ch. 9  
Week 12 Nov. 19   Ch. 9  Project Part 2 Due
Nov. 21 NO CLASS   Thanksgiving 
Week 13 Nov. 26 Planetary Atmospheres   Ch. 10  
Nov. 28 Jovian Planet Systems  Ch. 11  
Week 14 Doc. 3   Chs. 10 & 11Project Presentations  
Dec. 5 Asteroids, Comets, and Dwarf Planets   Ch. 12     Project Presentations  
Week 15 Dec. 10   Catch-up and review   
Dec. 12 Snow/Study Day Snow/Study Day
Week 16 Dec. 17 (tentative; TBD according to Registrar) Assigned Time   Final Exam  

Last updated Sept. 4, 2012.
Steve Liebling (home)