Astronomy 2010

Descriptive Astronomy
Fall 2005

This course is a survey of astronomy. We cover a wide range of topics, from the planets, moons, and other bodies that comprise our solar system to galaxies, quasars, black holes, and big bang cosmology. While learning about our universe, you will be exposed to a number of fundamental ideas in science. Exposure to the ideas and techniques used in astronomy is also a vehicle to develop skills in assimilating facts and data, and critical thinking.

Instructor:Prof. Robert HarrOffice:341 Physics
Office Hours: 10:30 - 12:00 Wednesday (on campus), 5:00-5:45 W (at Harper Woods Center) or by appointment.
Web Page:
Textbook: Voyages Through the Universe by Fraknoi, Morrison, and Wolff, Thomson, Brooks/Cole, third edition, (2003); ISBN 0-534-40905-9. Try this link to get a price comparison from a number of online bookstores: Voyages Through the Universe, third edition.
Lectures: Wednesday 6:00 - 10:00 pm, Harper Woods Middle/High School, Harper Woods.
The four hour period will be broken into two or three parts, approximately 1 to 2 hours each, with short breaks between.
Lab: To take astronomy for 5 credits, you must register for the 1 credit lab AST2011. The labs begin the week of Sept. 12.

Part of your grade will be based on a paper (500+ words or about 2 pages double-spaced) summarizing an astronomy topic of active research. You are to use available resources (textbook, newspapers, magazines, web sites) to find and pick a topic. The choice of topic and a selection of references (news articles, science stories) are due on October 5 for approval. The topic summary paper is due on November 9. This paper is a summary of the topic based on your references, but not copied or plagarised from them. The paper is worth 40 points, equivalent to one in-class exam. Click for more details.

The course outline has a listing of chapters to be covered each week. I expect you to read the assigned chapters before class -- I recommend you maintain a regular schedule, for instance, reading the chapters on Monday evening each week. A reading quiz will be given each week, except when there is an exam. There will be a total of 10 quizzes, each with 4 questions worth one point each, for a grand total of 40 points during the semester. This is equivalent to one in-class exam.
Each student will be paired up with 2 or 3 classmates for in-class discussions. You will be asked to consider a question, discuss it with the other members of your group, and prepare a response. The questions are not graded, however everyone is expected to participate in the discussions, and take turns responding. Each student's participation can affect their final grade at the level of a + or -.
Exams: There will be three in-class exams and a final exam. The in-class exams will be from 8:00 to 10:00 during a lecture period. A lecture will precede the exam from 6:00 to 8:00. Some new material (not part of the exam) will be covered in the lecture, and some time can be devoted to reviewing the material covered on the exam. The final exam will be given at the Harper Woods extension center, and will begin at 6:00 on the Wednesday of exam week. Exams are closed book.
Grading: Paper 40 points November 9
Reading Quizzes 40 points weekly
Discussion Questions 40 points weekly
Exam 1 40 points September 28
Exam 2 40 points October 26
Exam 3 40 points November 16
Final Exam 80 points December 21
TOTAL 320 points  
The grade scale is as follows:
  A+ 304 -- 320 points (95 -- 100%)
  A 288 -- 304 points (90 -- 95%)
  A- 272 -- 288 points (85 -- 90%)
  B+ 256 -- 272 points (80 -- 85%)
  B 240 -- 256 points (75 -- 80%)
  B- 224 -- 240 points (70 -- 75%)
  C+ 208 -- 224 points (65 -- 70%)
  C 192 -- 208 points (60 -- 65%)
  C- 176 -- 192 points (55 -- 70%)
  D+ 160 -- 176 points (50 -- 55%)
  D 144 -- 160 points (45 -- 50%)
  D- 128 -- 144 points (40 -- 45%)
  E < 128 points (< 40%)

Robert Harr

Last updated Sep. 7, 2005.