|2||Fri, 9:00AM||Smith|| ||10||Mon, 9:00AM||Smith|
|3||Fri, 10:00AM||Smith|| ||11||Mon, 10:00AM||Smith|
|4||Fri, 11:00AM||Risse|| ||12||Mon, 11:00AM||Pablo|
|5||Fri, 12:10PM||Risse|| ||13||Mon, 12:10PM||Pablo|
Astronomy places human development in context. The planets in our solar system began to form about 5 billion years ago as a result of violent collisions between chunks of debris left over from the formation of the Sun. This time period is more than 500 times farther back in prehistory than the appearance of the first human-like beings on Earth. Although astronomy cannot hope to solve our problems on Earth, it can provide us with a perspective of our surroundings which may positively influence future decisions we make about our fragile world, and the millions of life forms that exist on its surface and in its oceans.
We hope to try to capture some of the spirit of this in Astro 120, but as we do, keep in mind the words of Walt Whitman.
Lectures: The lectures are the core of this course, and define its content. Regular attendance in lecture will be a key component to your success in Astro 120. You can expect frequent, brief, in-lecture exercises and quizzes. In addition to helping you master the material discussed in lecture, these will be recorded for each student. As attendence in lecture is expected, and each individual "lecture challenge" is lecture-specific, no makeup opportunities will be available for the in-lecture events.
Reading assignments provided in the Course Outline will assist your mastery
of the material. Most things shown in lecture will also be posted at the
Astro 120 WWW site at
Recitation Sections: These meet once per week in B57 Physics (in the planetarium). In recitation, topics presented in lecture will be discussed at length in smaller peer groups. The planetarium will also be used to demonstrate some of the essential aspects of the sky and the motions of the Sun and moon. You will also learn to recognize a number of stars and constellations. This is mainly for fun and hopefully will ease your terror when standing within the inky blackness of space at night.
Recitation sections provide an opportunity to work individually and in small groups on course material and assignments. You are required to attend all meetings of your recitation section. Some course material will be covered only in the sections, and you will be responsible for that material on the exams. If you do not attend your recitation section regularly, you will not pass this course.
Homework: assignments will be given most weeks during the term. They will be posted on the course website (and announced in lecture) and will be due to be handed in in your recitation section about a week after they are assigned. Homework assignments handed in late will not be accepted except for unusual circumstances.
Help Room: The instructors in this course will be available for individual help during Help Room hours. The location of the Help Room, and the specific hours when Astro 120 instructors will be there, will be announced in lecture and recitation. Feel free to attend the hours of instructors other than your recitation TA. All instructors will also be available to help you at other times by appointment. Our offices, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses are listed above.
The Solar System: The Cosmic Perspective, Volume 1
by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, (Pearson Addison-Wesley Fifth Edition - 2008) - Media Update version is okay, too.
Readings will be assigned in this text for almost all course topics. We will use this text to supplement lecture material: use the book as a resource to help understand the material presented in class. Feel free to dig deeper into this nicely illustrated text. Because astronomy is changing so rapidly, the book is already out-of-date in some areas.
Star Wheel: We recommend (but don't require) that you purchase a "star wheel", which may be available at the bookstore near the primary text (JAX, on the west end of town, has some nicer ones for less than $15). This clever and inexpensive device can be a big help as you learn the constellations. It shows the stars visible in the sky over Ames at any given date and time in a realistic way, allowing you to find your way across the skies.
Lecture Notes: Lecture notes will be posted on the course web site (see below). A warning: These notes are not a complete text, nor do they cover all the material that we expect the students to learn in this course.
Web Pages: The WWW homepage for Astro 120 is at
Outdoor Observing Sessions: We are planning one or two evening outdoor observing sessions to obtain a first-hand view of the sky. These sessions will be announced in advance in lecture, but are tentatively planned for the weeks of October 7, November 3, and/or the week of December 2. These sessions are open to all Astro 120 students and their friends and family; they don't call them "star parties" for nothing!
Accommodations: Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Prof. Kawaler privately to discuss your specific needs. The Disability Resources Office at 515-294-6624 in room 1076, Student Services Building assists in coordinating reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.