Contemporary Astronomy  Phy 118, Warren Wilson College

Activities Schedule Fall, 2011

Note: for professor's reference, the fall, 2009 schedule is found at:
Class Photo
Text: Discovering the Universe, 8th Ed., By Neil F. Comins

Click Here for Syllabus

Future site for Observations Photos

Click here for Office Hours

CCD Photo session results

Monday Wednesday Thursday evening
Aug. 22.  Triad Day
Survey Quiz
Slideshow of Student Photos from 2010

Homework: Assemble planisphere.  Note: When you have completed the planisphere you should complete the HW - Planisphere Questions - closes Sept. 2, Noon.
Read Ch. 1 to page 15 before Wednesday
Structure of the sky
Celestial sphere 
Read Ch. 1 (all) before Thursday.

Discussion on "Structure of the Sky".  Moodle slideshow

Sign-up for 1st observing session - 5 students max.

Lecture Quiz - Moodle - Structure of Sky
Planisphere Quiz - Problems?
All-class Observing session - 8:30 pm. Regardless of weather
View Stars naked eye. - make observations of stars, develop skills in locating stars and constellations. -

Aug.29. Sun Tracking Experiment - Report due Wed, Sept. 7, 2011
Sun in filtered telescope - sunspots

Photograph sunspots (and again on Thursday afternoon by volunteer)
Discuss Suntracking experiment

Photo of sky dome
Suntracking tutorial
 All-class Observing session 8:15 pm Trip to Blue Ridge Parkway (allow more than 2 hours.
Naked-eye observation             
On-line tutorial Viewing the Sky

Sept. 5 scaled sizes in Solar System.
Read Ch. 2 to page 31.
 Size of the known Universe,
Powers of Ten film.  This video is in the WWC Library.
Discussion about "dark energy"

Sept. 12 Photograph Sun through filter - compare with size of model Sun from peppercorn Earth
Moon orbit and phase

Review for exam - Review outline posted.
Sept 14 Exam I.  (30 minutes)
On-line review outline (updated for 2008)

Moon discussion - read Ch. 6 pg. 160 to end.
Moon Photos and Moon features discussion - See CCD PhotoSession
Meteor Crater slide show
Lunar Features Tutorial
Observation session cancelled.  Clouds.

Sept. 19 Experiment: Measure lunar sizes.  Report due Wed. Sept. 28.  Read Ch. 2 - Gravitation and Waltz of Planets for Sept. 21.
Exams turned back in students' folders

Discuss Lunar features. 
Discuss Kepler's laws and Universal Gravitation of Newton.
Planetary Motion Tutorial
Observation session - whole class (weather permitting).  Observation session cancelled - cloudy and rainy.
Make-up exam 8:30 pm regardless of weather.  See class notes for who qualifies. 

Sept. 26.  Planetary motion - Kepler's Laws followed by Lecture Quiz.

 Lunar Size Measurements Report Due.
Begin Light and Color Demos.
See Light and Color Lab
Lecture Quiz
Discuss Light and Color
LCD Monitor images
Observation session or lab - whole class regardless of weather.
Measure Polaris' Elevation and latitude and
Observing:  Moon, Terminator, visual telescope.

Oct. 3 Continue Color and Light (note there will be no lab report for Light and Color.  The material will be on exam, however.
On-line HW: Color and Light - This counts toward the course grade.  Closes Oct. 12, after Exam II.

Discuss Spectra
Photograph spectra Hydrogen, Helium, Daylight (Solar)
Lecture quiz
Polaris Elevation lab report due.(4:00 pm Thursday in Spidel 205 - Collins' office)

Discuss topics for first research paper ("Mini topic")

Spectra tutorial (closes after exam)
Review for Exam
No observing.  Students may come and practice using the 8-inch Dobson telescope.  Please put back when finished.

Sigma Xi meeting at UNC-A.  "Groundwater Pollution".  See DFC before Wed if you wish to attend.  (Bonus if write a summary)

Oct. 10 Exam  II. (30 minutes)  - Review on-line. 

Oct. 12 
Measure time for Sun to rotate  Report due Wed, Oct. 26. 
Images: Aug 31,2011 1:45 pm
Sept. 1, 2011 3:00 pm
and Sept. 2, 2011 4:20 pm
New assignment due for Thurs. evening: Turn-in one non-Internet bibliographic source and the title for your mini-research project.  The project is due on Nov. 3, 2011.

If clear, we will observe M31 and practice finding it with binoculars and Dobson telescope.
If cloudy, we will have an optional work session for completing the solar rotation measurement.  The weather was cloudy.
Oct.17 Fall Break  Fall Break Fall Break  Note: there will be 2 all-class observing sessions on Thursday nights after fall break.  Weather determined.  Objects: open clusters, globular clusters, star forming regions, Orion negula, Galaxies, comets, Neptune, Uranus.  We continue with Astro Photo Sessions on Monday, Wednesday, some Thursday
Oct. 24  Telescopes Lenses and optics - Ch. 3 of Textbook.
Explore lenses, prep for Wed Lab
On-line Tutorial: Lenses and Telescope  Closes after Exam III.  This contributes to 5% of grade.

Lab Report due: Solar Rotation.

New Experiment: Lenses and Simple Telescope

All Class Observing - weather permitting - Jupiter, star clusters.  Clouded out.

Assigned reading:
Comet Elenin Gone.

Oct. 31 Lecture quiz - Lens and Telescope
Begin discussion of stars - distance, determination of distance, magnitude scale (Ch. 11 to page 324)

Lecture Quiz - Parsecs and Inverse squares
Lab Report due: Lenses and simple telescope
New Experiment: Photometry of artificial star (Phot 1)

Revised data for artificial star.
On-line Tutorial - Magnitudes and Inverse Square (required.  Closes Dec. 14, 2011)

Nov. 3.  Mini Research Project due.
All Class Observing - Jupiter, star clusters, M31 galaxy - rained out.  Observing cancelled.

Nov. 7 Finish artificial star spreadsheet if necessary.
Lab Report Due: Photometry of artificial star .
Experiment: Measure brightness and magnitudes of stars in Cassiopeia. (Phot 2)    Report due Wednesday after T-giving.
Nov. 10.  Sigma Xi Meeting: 7:00 pm Morse 209.  Dr. Kevin Moorhead of UNC-A (WWC alumnus) on
"Large Scale Power Plants".  Upon submitting an e-mail sumary, students may earn 1 hour of "Photo Credit" or a make-up of one missed class.

Full Moon, no observing
Nov. 14 Work on spreadsheet to calculate magnitudes and Intrinsic magnitudes and luminosities.  See notes.

 Review for exam. On-line review: click here.

Nov. 16 Exam III (30 minutes)

Thursday night whole-class observing - success!
Nov. 21 Text read Ch. 11, 12 for Nov. 28.
Spreadsheet for magnitude, intrinsic mag, luminosity
Characteristics of stars - temperature
Spectral characteristic, size,
Nov. 23
Thanksgiving Break - no class

Thanksgiving Break - no class

Nov. 28. Stars - Energy source.See Ch. 10, pp.302 f on sources of solar energy.
  Temperature, Spectral classification, H-R diagrams (H-R diagrams not covered, but main sequence was mentioned.

Note Project II (creative) due on Dec. 12.

Lab report due:   Magnitudes and luminosities of stars in Cassiopeia. - include spreadsheet and discussion.

New Experiment: Hertzsprung-Russell Diagrams for clusters.

Thursday night whole-class observing - Orion (weather permitting) - Success!

Work on H-R diagrams for clusters

Dec. 5 Activity: Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram for clusters
On-line Tutorial: Stellar energy, Stellar Evolution, H-R diagrams
Closes after Exam IV on Dec. 14.
Discuss clusters and ages, H-R diagram, Stellar evolution
Orion Nebula

PPOW Feb. 20, 2004
APOD July 10, 2005 - Trapezium

Color-Magnitude report due.

Last Photo session.  8:30 pm to 10:30 pm
Dec. 12 Creative Project Due.(Alternative: report extensively on one of your photo session objects with references)
Review.  Outline is posted.
Dec. 14.  Exam IV (30 minutes)
Last day of class
Discuss results of color photometry
Dec. 15. No Class

We are planning 5 Thursday night all-class observation activities plus one Thursday night when cloudy for solar eclipse video.  Come to the Thursday night sessions regardless of weather when class decision will be made.  Some days an e-mail announcement will be made by 4:30 pm.

List of night observation activities:

    Naked eye and bright star ID's

    Telescope use for bright stars, planets, and the moon

    Digital photography of the moon through telescope

    Polaris elevation and latitude

    Craggy trip during dark moon

EVALUATION.  The evaluation of students' progress in the course is divided among 5 different types of assignments indicated below:

  1. Quantitative Lab Reports -  30%.   These are "labs".  There are 9 lab experiments required and each is to be written as a word-processed document and printed.
  2. Mini Project I - 10%.  Report from out-of-class reading on a topic.  Due: Oct. 27, 2011.
  3. Mini Project II - 10%.  Creative project (poem, song, short story, art work) or a report on an astronomical object.  Due: Dec. 12, 2011.  See note on Syllabus.
  4. Attendance - 15%.
  5. Exams - 30% 35%.  There will be four exams - each exam requires about 30 minutes to complete.  Other activities will be conducted for the remainder of class time on exam days.
  6. On-Line Tutorials - 5%.  Beginning with Oct. 2, there will be a number of on-line tutorials that review the learning.  Each tutorial will close after the appropriate exam.  (The class voted overwhelmingly to include a requirement for the tutorials.  The grade is a "gift" - students can repeat the tutorials as many times as needed for a good score before they close.