Textbook: Discovering the Universe, 8th ed. by
Comins/Kaufmann. Class time will be spent discussing
the material, developing observing and calculating skills,
conducting laboratory activities which match and
reinforce the material in the text, evening observing sessions,
and writing about the material.
Each student will also need to
have a laboratory notebook to record the activity
results and to plot graphs.
The laboratory notebook must consist of a hard-bound
composition book. Please use the laboratory notebook only
for astronomy. No spiral notebooks. Computer output
and graphs will be fastened into the laboratory notebook - no
The Laboratory notebook
brought to every class and observation session.
Students may use the laboratory notebook as the notebook for
class notes as well as laboratory notes.
Students will be required to read selected portions of the textbook and other resources (Sky and Telescope, Scientific American, World Wide Web, etc.) which relate classroom activities and observation projects, and will be required to describe the corresponding material with each activity report. Lectures will be kept to a minimum. About 1/2 to 1/3 of each class period will be spent in pairing groups (two peers in each group) discussing practice quizzes and solving "puzzles". Nine of the class periods will be laboratory sessions making measurements, analyzing photos of objects, making models, etc. These measurement labs will be written up as laboratory reports.
The class will meet for 5 required visual whole class observing
sessions. These will be held on Thursday evenings
beginning at 8:30 pm for about 2 hours when the weather is
clear. Because the weather changes rapidly, the class
should assemble in Spidel regardless of the weather. In
case of cloudy skies another activity may be conducted.
Each student also is required to
attend two 2-hour deep-sky
photo sessions on a sign-up basis. These sessions
will be held on Monday and Wednesday evenings and on some
weekend nights (Friday, or Saturday) when the skies are
clear. Thursday evenings after all the full-class
observing sessions are completed will also be available.
The deep-sky photo sessions will set-up and align the
computer-driven telescope; use the CCD deep-sky camera; and
obtain photos of a deep sky object: galaxy, nebula, globular
cluster, comet (if available), outer planet (up to Pluto), or
research measuring a cataclysmic variable star. Some
sessions may last 4 hours or longer, in which the participating
students may fulfill the total 4 hour requirement for photo
sessions. Students will also gain "hands-on" practice with
the visual telescope during these deep-sky sessions (while the
computer and CCD camera are making multiple exposures).
for photo sessions: Sign-up sheets will be posted
in class for the Monday, Wednesday, (and Thursday) photo
sessions. We need at least 2 students at each photo
session, otherwise the session will be cancelled. Weekends
with good weather will also be available. Each student is
required to attend two successful observational photo sessions
(not clouded out, successful images obtained). Sign-up
lists for each week-night session will be available about 1 week
before the scheduled session. When a student is signed-up, he/she
is committed to come to the session for the full 2
hours. A student may cancel before 4:30 PM on the day of
the scheduled session either by crossing his/her name off the
list or notifying the instructor by telephone before the 4:30
pm deadline. Any student who fails to appear at
an observing session will be required to attend an extra 3rd
photo session (in addition to the required two sessions) or lose
5% of the course grade. It becomes very time-consuming for
the faculty to help with several sessions per week outside of
classtime, therefore it is very important that students honor
their committments to meet faculty when they have appointments
outside of regular class hours. A student may have to
sign-up for several sessions before success with the
weather. Students are urged to get their photo sessions
completed early to avoid jammed schedules that come late in the
Session Summaries. To receive credit for a photo
session, the student must submit up to a 2-page summary of the
object that was photographed within one week of the observation
date. The summary should include an astrophysical
description of the object as well as size, distance, and
location. What are the astrophysical processes going on in
the object? Also, the summary should include the size and
distance relative to other objects in the universe (solar
system, within or outside of galaxy, etc). The summaries
count for half of the 10 % deep sky session. The processed
astrophotos from each photo session will be posted on the
Internet - this enables students to copy and paste their photos
into their word-processed summaries.
Photo of the Week. Several astro photos will be
published in Physics Photo of the Week and the students'
summaries will be used for the descriptions. Any students
whose summaries are included will be credited on the page along
with students' names who helped with the photo session(s).
sessions for photo observations: Weekends with
precious good weather are often optimal times to obtain extended
time on variable stars and eclipsing binary stars. Weekend
sessions (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights) may also be more
convenient than weeknights for some students. When the
weather is good on a weekend and other factors are favorable the
professor will send an e-mail to all students in the class
inviting anyone to come. There will be no sign-ups for
weekend sessions, but attending a weekend session for 2 hours
certainly counts for one of the required photo sessions.
Certain class announcements
will be e-mailed to all students. The e-mail feature
of Campus-Web will be used for the directory of student's
e-mail. If a student uses a non-WWC e-mail address (e.g.
Hotmail, gmail), he/she must set-up the WWC e-mail account to
forward the WWC mail to the hotmail account (explained
here). It is each student's responsibility to check
for e-mail messages, and to maintain his/her e-mail account
(preventing the in-box from overfilling) If the student's
WWC account is non-functional, the student must see Computer
Services to get the account repaired. Facebook will not be
Contemporary Astronomy is not
exceptionally difficult material. However, the
requirements involve a lot of work on the students' part.
There are many activities to be summarized; it requires evening
viewing sessions - sometimes at uncomfortable hours of the
night; there are two projects required with write-ups; the
variable weather upsets schedules. Obtaining deep sky
photos and learning about the sky around us is very rewarding to
the diligent student.
the course is divided among 5 different types of assignments
Written instructions will be distributed and placed on-line for most (but not all) of the quantitative activities. Some of these written instructions will resemble "cookbooks" in that they contain some "fill-in-the-blanks" questions. However, the student's reports should not be mere lists, but succinct prose written in complete sentences and paragraphs. The student reports of the activities should consist of verbal descriptions of the activities, results, and discussions, as well as graphs of the data. Many activity instructions will ask a "What do you think?" question involving an astronomical or physical concept introduced in the beginning of the activity. The summaries must discuss the "what do you think" predictions as well as the results which were learned or contradicted by the experiments. The suggested length for each report is two to three pages. The due dates for all the reports will be indicated on daily schedule. The dates of the experimental activities is variable and subject to weather. Therefore the schedule is not published in advance.
The planned measurements
laboratories consist of the following (the actual order depends
on the weather):
Mini Project I (10 %).
Each student is expected to conduct a
reading mini-project. The research project will involve
reading research - obtaining and interpreting literature from
three types of sources: books, journals such as Sky and Telescope and Scientific American, and
the Internet. For Internet sources, the student will be
expected to evaluate the reliability of the source from
credentials and corraborative information. This skill is
necessary on account of the freedom of anyone to publish
anything on the Internet. Popular topics include
supernovae, comets, meteors, Big Bang, sunspots, black holes,
neutron stars, and more. The mini project report should be
typed (word processed), it should include all references, and
the references should be cited in the body of the paper using
the standard APA style such as: (Collins, 2009). Students
are encouraged to view the APA style tutorial: http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx
The mini project I is due on October 27 - the
Thursday after Fall Break Nov. 3, 2011 - the 2nd Thursday after Fall Break.
Project II (10%). Creative
project or special astronomical object. Students
are encouraged to compose a creative astronomy project for their
second major project (poem, song, space-art, short story, etc) or a camera
photo project (student needs a tripod and their own digital or
film camera). Such projects include star trails,
constellations, planet positions (look-up planet positions at Sky and Telescope).
Creative projects will be graded on the accuracy of
depicting astronomical objects or events. A song or poem
about Pluto should depict accurately some material that is known
about the dwarf planet, not a creative piece about its relation
to human nature, God, or Walt Disney's cartoon dog.
Alternatively, students may do more extensive research on one of
the objects they photographed in a photo session - based on a
more technical article than what was reviewed for the
observation session summary. The due date for Project II
is Monday, December 12, 2011.
Mon, Sep. 12, 2011
Mon, Oct. 10, 2011
Mon, Nov.14, 2011
Wed, Dec.14, 2011
The exams will consist mostly of
discussion questions in which the students should show they
understand the concepts and the physics involved. Many of the
questions will be derived from the Moodle exercises that
re-inforce concepts covered in class. There will also be
some mathematical problems addressing issues discussed in
ATTENDANCE POLICY (15%). Regular attendance and participation is required. Three absences are allowed with no penalty (excused or otherwise). In order to earn the 5% portion of regular class attendance, the student must have no more than 2 absences from class and whole-class observing sessions. For any absence beyond 2, the student will lose 1 point up to a maximum of 5 points. Absences are excused only for extended illness (more than 2 days confined away from classes), family emergency, or varsity athletic events, or field trips in other classes. Any excused medical or family emergency absence must be documented by medical personnel or Dean of Student's Office. For planned absences (field trips and athletic events) students must pre-notify the instructor for each planned absence. In spite of any excused absences, students are responsible for any material missed during class. Lateness to class (between 1 and 30 minutes) will be counted as half an absence. Please note that the time standard will be the clock in the physics lab which is set to the international time, not the cafeteria clock which often runs slow. Students arriving beyond 30 minutes late will be counted as absent. If the instructor is late, each student arriving before the instructor will have one lateness (half absence) cancelled. Missed exams may be made up only due to sickness, family emergency, varsity (not club) athletics, field trips in other classes. In the case of planned absences (athletics and field trips) arrangements must be made prior to the absence in order to qualify for make-up. If a student fails to show for a test due to alarm clock failure the student may make-up the test only for a maximum score of 50%. Shoes must be worn in class and labs!
LATE PAPERS POLICY.
Lab reports will be due Wednesdays at class time (but not every
week since there are nine experiments). Students should
have them printed out the night before. Papers received
after the class time due date will be penalized 10% for
lateness. NO QUANTITATIVE REPORTS MORE THAN ONE WEEK
OVERDUE WILL BE ACCEPTED! Excused absences will provide
exceptions to this rule (see the attendance policy above).
SPECIAL NEEDS. If a student needs special consideration due to a diagnosed learning handicap that requires special arrangements such as additional time for exams, taping class sessions, taping exam answers, using classmates' notes, etc. the student must arrange with Ms Deborah Braden - the Educational Access Coordinator, (Dodge) during the first week of class. For the legal protection of all parties, faculty may not grant the accommodations without the approval of the Educational Access Coordinator. Students are encouraged to develop ways of coping with special learning needs. However, to be accommodated, students must communicate their needs privately the Educational Access Coordinator during the first week of classes, not the day of the test or the day before an assignment is due. A learning handicapped student is still responsible for learning the material in the course. The methods of testing and evaluation may be varied to accommodate the handicapped student.
It is expected that all work submitted for credit consist of the
student's own work, not copied from someone else's notes.
If students work in teams (maximum of two persons per team), the
other team member must be identified in the notes. The
discussion of the results must be in the own words of each team
member. Verbatim copying of notes or copying from other
sources without acknowledgment result in severe penalties:
failure in the assignment for first offense; failure in the
course for the second offense. Two or more students who
submit identical papers (or papers with some words changed) will
be prosecuted for plagiarism.
Donald F. Collins -August, 2011.
Tel: 298-4131 (H); 771-3702 (Office); e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org (remove the "-no-spam")