INTRODUCTORY ASTRONOMY 102
“… when darkness is falling for good, it is well to have in mind, in addition to memories of human love and loss and of the natural splendors of this world – of birdsong at dawn, the roaring spray of the surf, the sweet smell of the air in the eye of a hurricane, the workings of bees in the throats of wildflowers – a few other memories of the other worlds as well. If you have seen plasma arches rising off the surface of the Sun, yellow dust storms raging on Mars, angry red Io emerging from the shadow of Jupiter, the golden rings of Saturn, the green dot of Uranus and the blue dot of Neptune, the glittering star fields of Sagittarius and the delicate tendrils connecting interacting galaxies, have watched auroras and meteors writing silent signatures in the sky – if, in short, you have seen not only this world but something of the other worlds, too – well then, you have lived.”
From: Seeing in the Dark by Timothy Ferris, Simon & Schuster, 2002
Instructor:Dr. Tom Michalik
Textbook: Astronomy: The Evolving Universe, 9th ed., Zeilik, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002.
Course Goals: The course goals are to learn the basics of astronomy, to learn our physical place in the universe, and to learn how science helps us understand the universe.
Attendance: Class attendance is expected. Attendance will be taken each day. An absence does not relieve you from the responsibility for work required when you are absent. Absences, no matter what the cause, will be resolved individually case-by-case. Talk to me!
Homework: Homework is usually assigned each class meeting. Homework assignments are pledged. Homework assignments are due at the beginning of the class period immediately following the period in which the assignment was made. I do not accept late work or give partial credit for late work. (I make an exception, of course, for illness. Please notify me when you are ill.)
Tests: There will be a mid-term exam and a final three hour exam. There is no set date for the mid-term exam. The class will decide which day is best. The mid-term exam is usually given during the sixth week of the semester.
Grading: Three contributions determine the final course grade. Homework contributes 20%. The mid-term exam contributes 40%. The final exam contributes the remaining 40%.
Course Content: The following topics will be covered in order: The Static Sky and Constellations, Celestial Motions and Their Causes, A Brief History of Astronomical Models including ideas and contributions from Plato, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, The Solar System, Properties of Light, The Sun, Observable Properties of Stars, Stellar Evolution, White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, Black Holes, Galaxies, and Cosmology.
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