Document 11905367

Astronomy 131
Fall 2012
Elementary Astronomy I
Observational, Historical, and Planetary Astronomy
Diane Friend
Course meets:
T and Th from 9:40 to 11:00 a.m. in ULH 101
Required text:
The Cosmic Perspective (Solar System Bundle)
CHCB 129 (inside the Physics/Astronomy dept. office)
M 3-4, T 11-noon, W 3-4, F 11-noon, and by appointment
by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, 2010, 6th edition
and other materials:
You will also need-
MasteringAstronomy access
Linked below the syllabus on Moodle is a one-page instruction sheet that will guide you
through getting started with MasteringAstronomy. Please read through this carefully
and follow the instructions EXACTLY. It is especially important that you register with
a first and last name that is IDENTICAL to your official UM records and that you use
your UM Student ID# (790xxxxxx) for your MasteringAstronomy student ID.
If you purchase the text at the UC Bookstore, it will come bundled with an
access code for MasteringAstronomy. This will give you access to online
tutorials, online homework that will be a required component of the class, and
an e-copy of the full text. Follow the directions on the MasteringAstronomy
registration handout (posted on the course Moodle site) to correctly complete
your registration.
If you acquire your textbook from another source, you will need to buy a
stand-alone copy of MasteringAstronomy online at
Click on the “Students” button under “Register” in the upper left corner.
Under Step 1, choose “No”. Make sure you read through the
MasteringAstronomy registration handout linked on Moodle- you will need to
use the course ID# given in that handout along with your 9-digit UM ID#
(starts with 790…) for your MasteringAstronomy student ID.
NOTE: If you plan to take Astr. 132 in the Spring, the e-book contains
additional chapters that will cover the content of that class and your
MasteringAstronomy access code is good for the entire academic year!
You will need to have an iClicker for this class and you will need to bring it
to class with you every class meeting. iClicker questions comprise 20% of your grade.
You will need a calculator that is capable of doing scientific notation.
Please bring it to class with you as some iClicker questions will require some simple
This course relies heavily on technology. You will need to sign in to MasteringAstronomy and register your iClicker
BEFORE the second day of class. Please download and follow the registration instruction handouts on Moodle.
Course site: Moodle
All course announcements, materials (except for MasteringAstronomy homework), links, and grades will be available
through the course Moodle site. Check this site often for new announcements concerning due dates, news items,
and upcoming events.
This is an amazing time for the field of astronomy! So many fundamental discoveries are being made, theories are
being questioned and expanded, and creative ideas are popping up like thousands of stars coming out in a dark night
sky. PLEASE feel free to contribute to this site! If you find a news item that would interest others in the class, e-mail
me the link for posting to the site.
Course Description
New technologies and space-based observations have fueled a renaissance in our understanding of the solar system.
Meanwhile, the discovery of hundreds of planets beyond our solar system has shown us the incredible richness and
diversity of planetary systems and is giving birth to many new ideas concerning the evolution of planetary systems in
general, and our own planetary system in particular. Besides surveying WHAT we know, this course will also emphasize
HOW we have been able to learn so much about these distant worlds. By the time you finish this course, you will have
had a chance to think about the many applications of astronomy- both historically and currently, see planets, stars, and
nebulas through a telescope, use astronomical software to model celestial events, and ponder the possibilities of life
elsewhere in the universe. You will have had a chance to think about your sense of place and scale in both distance and
time. After taking this course, I hope that every time you view a dark night sky, you will be inspired to think about the
richness and diversity of worlds that are out there, how much humankind has been able to learn about the universe, and
how very much is still waiting to be discovered!
Course Learning Objectives
After taking this course you will:
have become familiar with the common celestial objects visible to the naked eye- the constellations, Sun, Moon,
and planets, understand how and why these objects move and/or change their appearance in the sky over time,
and be able to use this knowledge to explain and predict the appearance and movement of these objects at any
point in time.
be proficient in the use of resources that allow you to locate, identify, and model the motions of celestial
have used physical and computer models to understand and explain personal observations.
have some familiarity with how astronomical ideas have evolved over time and why astronomy has been
important in the lives of people throughout history and across cultures.
have a working knowledge of basic physical laws of light, motion, and force and have both conceptual and
quantitative experience with how this knowledge can be used to help us discover more about the universe.
have a basic understanding of many of the methods astronomers use to study the solar system.
have an understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system and the factors that control the
properties of the objects in it. You will be able to apply this knowledge to explain how planets in our solar
system have evolved over time and to predict the properties of planets being discovered beyond our solar
have become familiar with some of the important research topics in planetary science today.
have thought critically about the future of planetary exploration- what fundamental questions remain, what
resources we will need to answer them, and what we might be willing and/or able to invest.
Course Philosophy
Scientists learn by DOING- making observations, taking measurements, making and testing models. This course is
designed to encourage active learning. It is my intention to bring as much observation, measurement, and modeling
into this large lecture course as is practical. If you are looking for a course where you can just copy down lectures
and spit them back verbatim on tests, this will not be the best course for you! A good grade in this course will
require a sense of curiosity, critical thinking skills, and active participation. Please come prepared to be involved!
You will be asked to perform observations and simple experiments outside of class and discuss concepts and
problems in group settings during lecture. iClicker questions as well as some homework and exam questions will
draw from these experiences and count for a sizeable portion of your grade!
Important Note: Please DO NOT let the size of this class deter you from asking questions!! Also, if you would like
to pursue any questions you might have in a more informal one-on-one with me, please do not hesitate to come see
me during office hours.
Course Requirements
Be advised! This course will require you to think critically, conceptually, and quantitatively.
Readings: In the Course Schedule you will find a “Readings” column that lists the relevant material from the textbook
that you should read BEFORE coming to class that day. Keeping up with the reading will improve your comprehension
and enjoyment of the lectures, give you a better opportunity to ask informed questions about the material, and improve
your performance on iClicker and exam questions.
Homework (20%): Science is a problem solving discipline. Thinking through homework problems will deepen your
knowledge and appreciation of topics covered in the course as well as exercise your critical thinking skills.
Homework explorations: Designed to get you experimenting with or actively exploring topics that we will discuss during
the next lecture period, these will be posted on Moodle. I will assume that you have done these before coming to class.
Some of the iClicker and exam questions will be drawn from your experiences with these activities. Come to class
prepared to discuss any questions and/or insights you have after working through these explorations.
MasteringAstronomy Homework: There will be frequent MasteringAstronomy homework assignments (every week or
two) with due dates announced on both Moodle and MasteringAstronomy. To do well in this course, you will need to
spend some quality time on these assignments. Do not put these off until the last minute! These assignments can only
be accessed through your own, individual MasteringAstronomy account. Due dates are absolute. Late homework credit
drops 10% per hour after the due date and time! No exceptions.
iClicker Questions (20%): I will use iClicker concept questions in class to initiate discussion and probe
misconceptions. I will post some (but not all) of these questions on the course site a couple days before you see them
in class for those of you who would like to have some time to think about these ahead of time. iClicker questions help
you think more critically about course topics, stay current with the course material, and give both you and I good
feedback on your current understanding. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that your iClicker responses are being
recorded. I will post iClicker scores periodically throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, I will drop your
scores from the two days you scored the lowest to help you deal with days you missed class or forgot your iClicker.
Note that forgetting your iClicker, or having an iClicker with a dead battery will not be a valid excuse for missed
responses past the two day grace allowance!
Exams (60%): There will be two midterms and one final. The final exam will be comprehensive, but will count the
same as each midterm. Exam questions will be multiple choice, but largely based on conceptual and quantitative
understanding, NOT memorization! I will hold an optional, late afternoon or early evening review session before each
exam. PLEASE NOTE: Absolutely NO make-ups will be given for midterms or the final unless you experience an
unexpected (and documentable) emergency. Note that “emergency” implies the threat of significant peril, not just an
“unexpected” occurrence. Make-ups may be written, or oral, at my discretion. NO exam scores will be dropped.
Your grade for this course will be broken down as follows:
iClicker Questions
Midterm 1
Midterm 2
Final (comprehensive)
I will curve course grades at the end of the semester. If you want to track your process through the semester, you
can go by the traditional grading scale (A for 90% and up, B for 80-89%, C for 70-79%, etc.). Final grade
boundaries will not be higher than this, but may be slightly lower.
Astronomical observing opportunities
I will host two public star parties at the Blue Mountain Observatory this
September (weather permitting). The first will be on Friday, September
7 and the second on Friday, September 14. Observing starts about
one hour after sunset (around 8:30 p.m.). This event is free and open
to everyone. Please call 243-5179 BEFORE you go to check on
weather closures. Cancellations hold for the entire night- regardless of
changing conditions after they are made! If it is a beautiful night, we
will probably be up there for at least 2-3 hours, so you do not have to
arrive at any specific time, but do not arrive too late or you may risk
getting there after we have closed!
This is a good opportunity for you to use a telescope and see first hand
many of the things that we will talk about during the first couple weeks
of the course. To help you find your way around the sky, you can
make your own star maps with the Voyager SkyGazer software that
comes with your text. SkyGazer is a powerful planetarium program
that you should load on your computer and get familiar with as soon as
Blue Mountain Observatory
Photo by David Podrasky
Personal Obligations
Student courtesy: Texting, talking, game playing, and internet browsing unrelated to the course are activities
that do not belong in this class. It is EVERYONES responsibility to make sure the classroom environment
supports the learning of all present. If you feel you must engage in these kinds of activities, please respect your
fellow students and leave the classroom or you may be publicly asked by me, or a fellow student, to do so.
Academic integrity: All students taking this course must adhere to the University of Montana’s academic
dishonesty policy as presented in the Student Conduct Code at Any
actions that include, but are not limited to, copying another student’s exam, allowing another student to copy from
your exam, sharing information with another student during testing sessions, and/or using another student’s iClicker
to enter question responses for them, are reasons for pursuing academic and university sanctions. Students will be
subject to a charge of academic dishonesty for any breach of these standards. This will result in a grade of zero on
the particular assignment and a distinct possibility of a failing grade in the course as well as the possibility of
expulsion from the university.
Course accessibility: If you are a student with a disability who will require reasonable program modifications in
this course, please meet with Disability Services for Students in Lommasson 154 for assistance in developing a plan
to address program modifications. If you are already working with Disability Services arrange to meet with me during
my office hours to discuss reasonable modifications that may be necessary. For more information, visit the Disability
Services website at
The last day to add/drop on Cyber Bear is Monday, Sept. 17. The last day to use a Drop/Add form to drop or change grading option
with the signatures of your instructor and advisor is Monday, Oct. 29. A drop, or change of grading option after Oct. 29 requires the
signature of the Dean and written documentation of exceptional circumstances.
Course Schedule
Aug. 28
Sep. 4
Oct. 2
Part III: Venus and Earth
Nov. 1
Jovian planets and rings
Jovian planet moons
What’s left?
Dwarf planets, comets, asteroids, and meteorites
Are we alone?
The search for habitable planetsPart I: How can distant planets be detected?
The search for habitable planetsPart II: How can the properties of distant planets be determined?
The search for habitable planetsPart III: What kind of planetary systems have we found? Have
these discoveries impacted ideas about the formation and
evolution of our own solar system?
Are we alone?
The search for life in the universeCourse wrap-up and review.
Dec. 4
Dec. 11
Ch. 2: Section 2.2
Ch. 2: Section 2.3
Ch. 2: Section 2.4
Ch. 3
Ch. 4: Section 4.1-4.4
Ch. 4: Section 4.5
Ch. 5: Section 5.1
Ch. 5: Section 5.2-5.3
Ch. 5: Section 5.4-5.5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9: Section 9.1-9.2
Ch. 10: Section 10.1-10.2
Ch. 9: Section 9.3
Ch. 10: Section 10.3
Ch. 9: Section 9.4
Ch. 10: Section 10.4
Ch. 9: Section 9.5-9.6
Ch. 10: Section 10.5-10.6
Ch. 11: Section 11.1, 11.3
Thanksgiving Holiday
Ch. 2: Section 2.1
Ch. S1
Ch. 1
EXAM 1 Tuesday, Oct. 2
Ways of seeing: An overview of astronomical instrumentation
Order from chaos: Looking for basic patterns and trends in our
own solar system
Solar nebular theory:
How did our solar system form?
Planetary Geology:
Processes which shape planetary interiors, surfaces, and
Planetary Atmospheres
Putting it all together- predicting basic properties of planets
The terrestrial planets:
Observations and discoveries
Part I: Mercury and the Moon
Part II: Mars
Introduction to the course
Using sky simulation programs
A sense of scale and place
What can you see in the night sky?
Constellations; mythology;
Tracking the motions of the stars and planets
Motions of the Sun in the sky, Seasons
Phases of the Moon, eclipses
Astronomical knowledge of different peoples and cultures
The evolution of ideas concerning our place in the universe
The nature of science; Astrology vs. Astronomy
Kepler’s Laws
Fundamental physical laws:
Force and motion, Energy, Gravity
Orbits and tidal forces; integrating Kepler’s and Newton’s Laws
Light and matter- the universe we know
Properties of light and matter
Interaction of matter and radiation, atomic spectra, thermal
radiation, Doppler shift
Ch. 11: Section 11.2
Ch. 12
Ch. 13: Section 13.1
Ch. 13: Section 13.2
Ch. 13: Section 13.3
Ch. 24: Section 24.2-24.5
FINAL EXAM Tuesday, Dec. 11 from 10:10 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. in ULH 101