AY101 - Introduction to Astronomy - Fall 2005

Dr. Keel

Lectures (section 2) TTh 9:30 am, in room 227 Gallalee

Office hours for AY101: in 311B Gallalee, 1:15-3:15 Wednesday, 1:30-3:00 Tuesday, and other times by appointment (348-1641). I can also be reached by email at keel@bildad.astr.ua.edu .

Text: The Essential Cosmic Perspective, by Bennett et al.

The target topics for each lecture are listed before, with relevant chapters in parentheses. Copies of my lecture outlines are also available at the Supply Store. Additional activities - telescope usage and computer/network resources - will be available. A Web page for this section of AY 101 is available here.

This course deals with the objects and techniques of astronomical investigation. We will consider planets, stars, and galaxies, with regard to their physical nature, history, and interrelations. Course objectives are:

  • A basic grasp of structure of the Universe
  • How science works - nature is the arbiter
  • Ability to apply this understanding of science to current issues

    Class outline

    Date Topic (chapter)
    25 Aug Intro to course, ideas and philosophy of science(1)
    30 Aug Patterns in the sky (2.1-2.2)
    1 Sept Eclipses (2.3)
    6 Sept Astronomy in history (3)
    8 Sept Motion, gravity and orbits (4)(Quiz 1)
    13 Sept Light and the electromagnetic spectrum (5)
    15 Sept Light and telescopes (5)
    20 Sept The solar system and its history (6) (Quiz 2)
    22 Sept Terrestrial planets - inside and out (7)
    27 Sept Exploration of the Moon and Mars (7)
    29 Sept Giant planets (8)(Quiz 3)
    4 Oct Rings and moons (8) [End of midterm reporting period]
    6 Oct Asteroids, comets, Pluto,and more (9)(Quiz 4)
    11 Oct The Sun - a giant fusion reactor (10)
    13 Oct The Sun - structure and activity cycle (10)(Quiz 5)
    18 Oct Surveying the stars (11)
    20 Oct Interstellar material and starbirth (12) (Quiz 6)
    25 Oct Lives of the stars (12)
    27 Oct Supernovae, gamma rays, and neutron stars (12.3)(Quiz 7)
    1 Nov Relativity and black holes (13) [End of withdrawal period]
    3 Nov The Milky Way Galaxy (14)(Quiz 8)
    8 Nov Galaxies (15)
    10 Nov Galaxies over cosmic time (15)(Quiz 9)
    15 Nov Quasars and active galaxies (15.4)
    17 Nov Dark matter and the formation of cosmic structure (16)(Quiz 10)
    22 Nov Moon hoaxes, Mars faces, and missing days
    29 Nov Cosmology - first the facts (17)
    1 Dec Cosmology - what does it all mean? (17) (Quiz 11)
    6 Dec Life in the Universe (18)
    8 Dec Life/course review (18)

    The course grade will be based on 11 in-class quizzes (2/3) and a comprehensive final exam (1/3). The worst quiz grade will be dropped in calculating the average grade, thus allowing a single miss with no makeup quizzes (done only for medical reasons or because of required absences). Attendance points may be given in conjunction with diagnostic questions at intervals during the course, and there will be the opportunity for extra-credit essays. The final exam is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 14.