ASTR 1050: Survey of Astronomy Fall 2003
Instructor: Michael Brotherton
Office: 217 Physical Sciences
Office Hours: MW 10:00 AM to , or by appointment
Lectures: MWF —, CR 302
Text: Horizons: Exploring the Universe, by Michael Seeds, 8th Edition
Contemporary Activities in Astronomy, by Hoff, 5th Edition (for Lab)
Astronomy is the study of everything beyond the Earth, the entire universe in fact! Topics will include the sky, planets, stars, galaxies, and more. We won't just take census of the amazing things in the universe; understanding how we know what we know is equally important. Science is the most powerful method of deriving new knowledge ever developed, and understanding science is key to understanding our increasingly complex, technologically driven civilization. Science often relies on math, and astronomy is no exception. We will use simple geometry, trigonometry, and algebra and useful math tools like logarithms and scientific notation. We'll only pull out the math when we need it, and we'll spend whatever time it takes to make its application clear. I sincerely hope you all complete the course with a deepened sense of wonder about the universe and an appreciation for the science that has revealed that wonder.
Attendance at lecture is strongly encouraged, but not required. I expect the assigned reading to be completed before class. The lectures will not necessarily cover all the topics in the reading and should not be viewed as a substitute for the reading. Lectures are an opportunity to address the more challenging concepts and to explore material beyond the text. Please bring questions to class and be prepared to discuss concepts. Please also bring a scientific calculator to class (should have at least a "log" button and support scientific notation, does not have to be expensive or fancy).
Attendance at lab is required. Jim Verley and Mark Reiser are your dedicated lab instructors and will have their own lab syllabus. Lab meets for the first time the week of Sep. 8—12 (next week). There will also be opportunities during the semester to use a telescope. These sessions are optional and will be announced during the semester.
In addition to the reading, weekly homework assignments will be posted on Mondays on-line via the University's WebCT system and due as indicated (typically a week later). The procedures for self-registration are explained at http://www.uwyo.edu/ctl/webct (this is also the login site). Additional course information will be available on WebCT.
There will be four in-class exams during the semester. There will be no final! While the exams will not be comprehensive in general, the material in the course does build on itself and several topics reappear in different forms. Each in-class exam will cover several chapters of material and consist of a mixture of multiple choice, true/false, and short answer problems. A calculator may be used – don't forget to bring yours! The exams will be closed-book, but formulas and physical constants will be provided and need not be memorized. Exam dates are Sep 22, Oct 27, Nov 21, and Dec. 12.
The grading scheme will be:
A = 85-100%
B = 75-85%
C = 65-75%
D = 55-65%
F < 55%
I tend to round up, and I reserve the right to adjust the scheme in your favor if the score distributions are lower than expected (for instance, because of an unintendedly difficult exam). You will not automatically fail the course for missing lab, but if two or more labs are missed you will lose a letter grade. The components of the course are weighted:
Laboratory = 25%
Exams = 60%
Quizzes/Homework = 15%
Please let me know if you have a disability that requires special accommodations. Procedures exist to address such needs through Disability Support Services (766-6189; firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am an observational astronomer specializing in the
study of quasars and other types of active galaxies thought to be powered by
super-massive black holes. I received my
PhD from the
I plan to solicit feedback via questionnaires a few times during the semester to gauge how well I am meeting your needs in this course and will make adjustments to meet those needs if possible. I love astronomy and look forward to sharing the wonders of the universe with you!
Course Schedule and Reading Assignments (subject to change)
Week Dates Topics Textbook
1 Sep 3, 5 Scales, the Night Sky Ch. 1, 2
2 Sep 8,
10, 12 Motions in the Sky,
History of Astr.
3 Sep 15,
17, 19 Information from Distant
Sep 22 Exam #1 on the Sky+ Ch. 1-6
4 Sep 24,
26 The Sun
5 Oct 1,
3 Properties of Stars
6 Oct 6,
8, 10 Formation and
Structure of Stars
7 Oct 13,
15, 17 Deaths of Stars
8 Oct 20,
22 Neutron Stars and
27 Exam #2 on Sun & Stars
9 Oct. 29,
10 Nov 3,
5, 7 Milky Way, Galaxies
11 Nov 10, 12, 14 Quasars, Cosmology Ch. 14-15
12 Nov 17,
Nov 21 Exam #3 on Galaxies + Cosmology Ch. 12-15
13 Nov 24 Begin
14 Dec 1,
3, 5 Solar System &
15 Dec 8,
10 Jovian Planets and
Dec 12 Exam #4 on Solar System Ch. 16-19
I encourage you to read Chapter 20, "Life on Other Worlds," but will not hold you responsible for it on an exam.