Astronomy 2110.001 General Astronomy I (Call No. 64973) Syllabus: Fall 2020

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 1230 or 1250 or higher. Physics 1200 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: 103 Regener Hall (the big room). If you can't attend in person for any reason then you can join by Zoom. Go to UNM Learn to get connection instructions. Note that starting Dec 1 the remaining lectures will be remote.

Office Hours: Monday 10am-noon Room 3236 in PAIS, 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 project worth 20%. In addition the homework assignments will count for 25% of the grade and class participation will count for 5%. 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 submitted on Learn before 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 Ismael Mireles ( You can also post questions about the HW to the discussion board for the class in Learn. 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
18 Aug Introduction -- Quick Tour of the Universe
20 Aug Angles and Angular Measurement Chap. 1
25 Aug Positional Astronomy Chap. 2
27 Aug Phases of the Moon, Eclipses Chap. 3 HW#1 Due
1 Sep Galileo and Kepler Chap. 4
3 Sep Newton Chap. 4 HW#2 Due
8 Sep Orbits Chap. 4
10 Sep Tides Chap. 4 HW#3 Due
15 Sep Light - Blackbody Radiation Chap. 5
17 Sep Light - Spectral Lines Chap. 5 HW#4 Due
22 Sep Telescopes Chap. 6
24 Sep Review Chap. 1-6HW#5 Due
29 Sep Test #1
1 Oct Solar System Overview Chap. 7
6 Oct Solar System Formation Chap. 8
8 Oct Extrasolar Planets Chap. 9 HW#6 Due
13 Oct Earth Interior Chap. 9
15 Oct Earth Atmosphere Chap. 9HW#7 Due
20 Oct Moon & Mercury Chap. 10,11
22 Oct Venus Chap. 11 HW#8 Due
27 Oct SNOW DAY Chap. 11
29 Oct Mars Chap. 12
3 Nov Election Day and Fall Break - No class
5 Nov Jupiter & Saturn Chap. 13 HW#9 Due
10 Nov Moons and Rings Chap. 14
12 Nov Uranus & Neptune Chap. 15 HW#10 Due
17 Nov Pluto & Friends Chap. 15
19 Nov review
24 Nov Test #2
26 Nov Thanksgiving break - No class
1 Dec Meteorites, Comets, etc.
3 Dec Life in our Solar System and Others (remote) Chap. 28
4 Dec 5:00 pm Final Project Due

This page was last modified on June 10, 2020

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