Astronomy 2110.001 General Astronomy I (Call No. 64973) Syllabus: Fall 2019

Course Credits: 3

Course Description and Goals: Astronomy 2110 is a general astronomy survey course at a greater level of detail than is covered in Astronomy 101. During this fall semester (part 1 of the 2 part series of Astronomy 2110/2111) we will learn about the Solar System, starting with our own planet Earth, then working through the Solar System constituents: the inner and outer planets, their moons, ring systems, comets and meteors. We will also learn about planets in other solar systems and how these compare with our own. Just as important as learning about the objects with which we share our Universe, we will be investigating how we know what we know. We will therefore discuss some basic astronomy concepts like coordinate systems, gravity, properties of light, and telescopes - important concepts used to understand the objects we observe. Astronomy is unique among the physical sciences that we cannot run experiments on astronomical objects (with the exception of the few planetary bodies we, or our probes, have visited). Thus we must rely primarily on our telescopes to make sense of the Universe, but we will employ the entire electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to gamma-rays, and also neutrinos and gravitational waves.

Pre-Requisites: Math 123 or 153 or higher. Physics 151 or higher. We will learn some physics concepts and make use of high-school level algebra and trigonometry, but will not use calculus.

Instructor: Prof. Greg Taylor;; web page

The Lab (A2110L): There is a night laboratory which accompanies this class, where you learn about the night sky, and get your hands on real telescopes. It meets at the Campus Observatory, and is open to everybody in this class. You certainly may take this lecture course without the lab if you wish, but if you are an Astrophysics major, the lab is required.

Course Text: Universe, Freedman, Geller and Kaufmann, 11th edition

Class Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 - 12:15pm Class Location: 114 Regener Hall

Office Hours: Monday 10am-noon Room 180, Physics and Astronomy Bldg. (NE corner of Lomas & Yale), or by appointment. For quick questions catch me before or after class.

Homework: There will be regular reading assignments and homework. Reading assignments should be completed BEFORE the class time. Homework assignments will be handed out weekly.

Lectures: I will present lectures in powerpoint, with occasional demonstrations. These lectures and the syllabus can be found at the class web page that you are reading now. Some material drawn from my own research, or current events, may not be covered in the book. We will also practice problem-solving using worksheets. I will ask questions from time to time during lecture. Your participation in responding, and in asking questions of your own, is strongly encouraged.

Grades: There will be two midterms, each worth 25%, and a final exam worth 30%. In addition the homework assignments will count for 20% of the grade. Please take note of the dates of the exams in the syllabus. Make-up exams will only be given if arrangements are made in advance of the exam date. On tests and homework please attempt every problem and show your work as I do give partial credit. Homeworks must be turned in at the start of class on the day when due for full credit. Credit for late homeworks will drop by 15% for every day late within a week, and no credit thereafter. Note: If you take this class "Credit/No Credit", according to university policy, your final grade must be a "C" or better in order to receive credit.

Accommodation Statement: In accordance with University Policy 2310 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies the instructor of the need for an accommodation. It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to the instructor’s attention, as he/she are not legally permitted to inquire. Students who may require assistance in emergency evacuations should contact the instructor as to the most appropriate procedures to follow. Contact Accessibility Resource Center at 277-3506 for additional information.

Help with Homework and Tutoring: The TA for the class is Birendra Dhanasingham who will hold office hours Wednesdays from 3-4pm in the lobby of PandA. If you have trouble with the homework you can also ask me for help in office hours or by appointment. I much prefer meeting in person to trying to answer questions on the homework by e-mail. Free tutoring for this class is available through CAPS. Go to

Schedule of Topics and Reading Assignments
Date Topic Reading Homework
20 Aug Introduction -- Quick Tour of the Universe
22 Aug Angles and Angular Measurement Chap. 1
27 Aug Positional Astronomy Chap. 2
29 Aug Phases of the Moon, Eclipses Chap. 3 HW#1 Due
3 Sep Galileo and Kepler Chap. 4
5 Sep Newton Chap. 4 HW#2 Due
10 Sep Orbits Chap. 4
12 Sep Tides Chap. 4 HW#3 Due
17 Sep Light - Blackbody Radiation Chap. 5
19 Sep Light - Spectral Lines Chap. 5 HW#4 Due
24 Sep Review Chap. 1-5
26 Sep Test #1
1 Oct Telescopes Chap. 6
3 Oct Solar System Overview Chap. 7
8 Oct Solar System Formation Chap. 8 HW#5 Due
10 Oct Fall Break, no class
15 Oct Extrasolar Planets Chap. 9
17 Oct Earth Interior Chap. 9HW#6 Due
22 Oct Earth Atmosphere Chap. 9
24 Oct Moon & Mercury Chap. 10,11 HW#7 Due
29 Oct Venus Chap. 11
31 Oct Mars Chap. 11 HW#8 Due
5 Nov Review Chap. 6-11
7 Nov Test #2
12 Nov Jupiter & Saturn Chap. 12
14 Nov Moons and Rings Chap. 13
19 Nov Uranus & Neptune Chap. 14HW#9 Due
21 Nov Pluto & Friends Chap. 15
26 Nov Meteorites, Comets, etc. Chap. 15 HW#10 Due
28 Nov Thanksgiving break - No class
3 Dec Life in our Solar System and Others Chap. 28
5 Dec Review Chap. 1-15, 28
10 Dec 12:30pm Final Exam

This page was last modified on August 19, 2019

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