AY101 - Introduction to Astronomy - Spring 2009

Dr. Keel

Lectures (section 2) TTh 2:00-3:15 pm, in room 127 Biology

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 wkeel@bama.ua.edu .

Text: The Essential Cosmic Perspective, 4th ed., by Bennett et al.

The target topics for each lecture are listed below, 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 at http://www.astr.ua/edu/keel/ay101.

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. Its specific learning goals are that students will:

  • 1) be able to identify key concepts in the sciences to provide a broad perspective on the human condition.
  • 2) be able to recognize and explain the scientific method, and evaluate scientific information.
  • 3) be able to characterize the appearance and motion of celestial objects.
  • 4) be able to identify the key conceptual advances (and associated figures) in the history of astronomy.
  • 5) understand the relationship between light, matter, and energy in an astronomical context.
  • 6) understand the content, formation and evolution of planetary systems.
  • 7) understand the nature and evolution of stars.
  • 8) understand the nature and evolution of galaxies.
  • 9) understand the nature and evolution of the Universe.

    Class outline

    Date Topic (chapter)
    Jan 8 Introduction to astronomy; ideas and philosophy of science
    Jan 13 Our view of the Sky (2)
    Jan 15 Eclipses (2)
    Jan 20 Ancient roots of astronomy (3)
    Jan 22 Copernicus to Galileo to Newton - science takes form (3)
    Jan 27 Orbital motion and energy in the Universe (4)
    Jan 29 Light and matter (5)
    Feb 3 Test 1
    Feb 5 Telescopes (5)
    Feb 10 Planetary systems and their formation (6)
    Feb 12 Earth as a planet (7)
    Feb 17 Exploration of the Moon
    Feb 19 Giant planets (8)
    Feb 24 Test 2 [End of midterm reporting period]
    Feb 26 Moons and rings, asteroids and comets (8,9)
    Mar 3 Our local star - the Sun (10)
    Mar 5 Surveying the stars (11)
    Mar 10 Interstellar material and starbirth (12,14)
    Mar 12 Moon hoaxes, faces on Mars, and missing days - what should we believe?
    Mar 24 No class [End of withdrawal period]
    Mar 26 No class
    Mar 31 Life and death of stars (12, 13.1)
    Apr 2 Relativity, neutron stars, and black holes (13)
    Apr 7 Test 3
    Apr 9 Our galaxy - the Milky Way (14)
    Apr 14 Other galaxies (15,16.2)
    Apr 16 Supermassive black holes, quasars, and active galaxies (15)
    Apr 21 Galaxy clusters, superclusters, and the cosmic web (16.3)
    Apr 23 Cosmology - seeking the Big Picture (16.4-17)
    Apr 28 Life in the Universe (18)
    Apr 30 Course review

    Grading and exam policies: The course grade will be based on three in-class tests (45%), a comprehensive final with optional section that serves as a makeup for one missed test (30%), and short in-class quizzes (25%) Attendance points may be given in conjunction with diagnostic questions or observing activities 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., Monday, May 4.

    Other important information:

    Academic misconduct: All students in attendance at the University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. Academic misconduct includes all acts of dishonesty in any academically related matter and any knowing or intentional help, or conspiracy to help, another student. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

    Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with the Office of Disability Services (348-4285). Thereafter, you are invited to schedule appointments to see me during office hours to discuss accomodations or other special needs.