Syllabus - General Astronomy - Home

Astronomy 101 Stars and Galaxies Fall 2015
Section 17653
Instructor: Christine Hirst, M.S., M.Ed.
Office hours: 8:30-9:00 PM Wednesdays, Outdoor Café under the stars .
Contact info:
Email: [email protected]
NOTE: You MUST email me from your COC email, with Astro 101 or you will not receive a
response. This is in order to protect you and me under FERPA laws .
Text/call: Google voice (661) 347-8177
Please identify yourself in your text. There is a digital transcript of all correspondence.
Recommended Text:
Stars and Galaxies; Seeds & Backman 13e
Sapling Learning ($40)
Scientific calculator-not your phone!
1. Compare and contrast the properties, dynamics, and evolutionary cycles of different types of stars and galaxies.
Official Student Learning Outcomes:
1. Compare and contrast the birth, life, and death of stars ...
2. and analyze the place of the Sun in our Galaxy
3. ...and its place in the Universe.
When you successfully complete the course, it is my goal that you will also be able to:
Describe what science is, discriminate between legitimate science and pseudo-science and discuss the difference
between science and belief systems
Explain the importance of astronomy, and science in general, for the general population.
Understand news stories about astronomy and be able to explain them to your friends and children.
Understand what you are seeing when you look up at the night sky.
Welcome to Stars and Galaxies!
This class provides a broad overview of celestial objects, including the moon and stellar phenomena. This course
will use a combination of discussion, partner work and in class activities to develop an understanding of
interstellar properties.
A minimum of math is used, but the natural sciences are inherently quantitative, so minimum does not mean
zero! Expected readings, discussions, homework and lectures will provide the framework for daily activities.
How to be successful in this course:
Come to class! I cannot help you if you are not present. Be actively engaged in learning astronomy. Stay on top of
weekly readings, and come to class prepared. Do your homework, come to office hours (they are outside!)
Indulge in your curiosity. Do not be afraid to ask questions and to be wrong. All success was preceded by
many failures. Actively participate in discussions, and stay abreast with current astronomical happenings.
Thinking like a scientist takes lots of practice and learning to solve problems takes even more. Let yourself be
surprised at how the universe really works!
I highly recommend that you print out the lecture outlines/ppts prior to class. They are all available on my
website and will be uploaded within 24 hours of the class. Come to class! Be actively engaged in learning
Need help?
Form study groups. I have created a Facebook page for this course in which you can collaborate, form groups and
pose questions to each other. I will not be monitoring the page unless directly tagged in a question. So yes
you can vent about the course without fear of repercussion. It is for you.
Attendance policy:
This course meets once a week so attendance is imperative. You alone can make decisions
about when it is necessary to miss a class, but note that work cannot be made up. I do
not need an explanation. There is no late or makeup work, so plan accordingly. If you
miss for an extended period, I may drop you if you do not notify me of dire
circumstances. If you are going to die, send an email first. Note that the final date is set
in stone. There will not be makeups for any reason.
Bring them, and bring them charged. Below are the [free] apps you need:
 Socrative
My policy is to use them appropriately. Please DO NOT
 Nearpod
use class time to surf the web or text. If you need to
 Skyview (IOS)
make a call or send an emergency Tweet, excuse
 I recommend StarWalk 2 for iPad ($4.99)
 Notability is a fantastic note taking app
NOTE: During exams, there will be no phones out
whatsoever. Violation of this will result in a zero on your
Graded Work:
 Homework:
Homework will be administered and assigned via sapling learning. This is due by the following class
meeting. There are no makeup assignments, and I do not accept late work for any reason. Classwork
and homework combined are worth the weight of the final exam.
There will be three exams throughout the semester. The final will be cumulative. If you are absent
the day of an exam, your final will replace the score. There are no test makeups!
Daily quizzes
Quizzes are administered at the conclusion of each class period. They will each be worth 5 points. Some
weeks this may be for total points, others a class discussion or group work may suffice. Each student can
receive a maximum of 50 points in this area.
Exams 3 x 15% = 45%
Cumulative final exam =25%
Daily quizzes =10%
Classwork and homework=20%
Extra credit: Must be turned in by the week before the final!
~20 points
Each student has the opportunity to do one extra credit opportunity this
semester by attending an astronomical lecture, event or star party. You
must submit a digital synopsis, along with photographic evidence that
you attended said event. What you may NOT do is sit through an event
in which a professional has volunteered their time and fill out a
worksheet. You will need to get creative and stealthy in obtaining
photographic evidence of your attendance, and following the event
write me a one page transcript of the event including the intended
audience and purpose, as well as what you learned. I can assist you
and am flexible in your choices. No paper submissions will be
accepted and must be shared with me digitally. Options for submission
include but are not limited to:
Google drawing with text of your observations
Youtube video (that you create)
iMovie, teaching the viewer what you learned
Ye olde’ ppt presentation
Digital scrapbook
Lucidchart digital diagram
When all other creativity fails you, a Google Doc and write a 2 page paper.
Schedule is subject to change at any time, and will be updated on my website.
Introduction to Astronomy; scale of the Universe; Constellations
Activity: Astrologic sign and car insurance, scientific notation
Celestial motions
Motions in our sky
Activity: Moon phases lab
Historical development, origins of modern astronomy; Gravity,
Newton and Einstein’s Relativity Theory
Activity: Ellipses, Plan a trip to Mars.
Exam 1 (Chapters 1-5)
Properties of light and the tools of astronomy
The nature of light; atoms and spectra
Activity: Light and Spectra
Our star: the Sun
Properties of stars
Exam #2 (Chapters 6-9)
Star formation; structure of stars
Stellar evolution
Deaths of high and low mass stars
Neutron stars and black holes
Exam #3 (Chapters 11-14)
Our galaxy: the Milky Way
No Class-Veteran’s Day
Types of galaxies; dark matter; Hubble Law
Active galactic nuclei and supermassive black holes
Cosmology; Big Bang; fate of the Universe