FALL 2000 Tu Th 330 - 5 pm WEL 3.502

SPECIAL NOTICE: If you have already taken Ast 303 or 302, you cannot get credit for this course. You should change your enrollment to an astronomy course numbered 309 or higher.

Instructor: Dr. Bob Robbins (Office RLM 13.136, ph.471-7312)
My office hours will be : after class every day after lecture, as long as necessary, or by appointment.
TA: to be announced


The Text: Discovering Astronomy, Fourth Edition by Shawl, Robbins, and Jefferys. (2000)


Your grade will come from short quizzes given approximately every two weeks during the semester. Seven quizzes will be given, each about 30 minutes long at most. The two lowest quiz grades will be dropped, so that the final grade will be determined by the 5 best quizzes, at 20% each.

Here is how it works. One week before, I will give out a study sheet contained 10 study questions. I will compose questions that review the important concepts of each section of study. When you come to class to test, you will find that I have chosen 3 of these questions for you to write on. These will be the SAME QUESTIONS that were on your study sheet. You can form study groups if you wish.

There are no make-up quizzes), since dropping 2 out of 7 quizzes is more than adequate to allow for normal (occasional) sickness, bad days, and other problems. Unusual circumstances such as unusually severe medical problems causing you to miss more than 2 quizzes will be considered on an individual basis. Bring such matters to my attention as soon as you notice them developing. By the end of the semester, it is generally too late to do anything about it. This quiz-dropping policy has worked quite well in the past, and it gets me out of the business of deciding whether or not you had a "good" or a "bad" reason for missing a quiz.

Study Aids

Notice that every chapter has an overview at the start and a chapter summary at the end. These are important study aids;

The text also contains many questions (Inquiries) interspersed in the body of the text itself. In most textbooks, the "questions to aid in studying" are located at the back of the chapter where they can be conveniently ignored. In this book, the questions occur at the point where they are relevant. When you see one of these inquiries, you should stop and try to answer it. If you can, you are probably understanding the material. If you can't, you should begin finding out why. The inquiries help to change the study process from passive memorization to a more active learning experience. The inquires are answered at the end of the chapter, but if you simply turn to the end and read the answer, you will not learn the material as well as someone who really attempts to answer the questions realistically in a quiz situation.

There are also Discovery exercises in many chapters that also stress active learning. They are simple activities that in general you can do on your own that assist you in learning some astronomy by direct observations. A blue box in the text will indicate where a certain Discovery logically fits. The directions themselves are placed at the end of the chapter. You can understand the chapter without doing the Discoveries, but they definitely increase your comprehension. I will note various useful discoveries as we go along.

Deadlines and Drops

Wednesday, Sept. 27 is the last day to drop freely. After this date, University regulations state that you must be working at a C rate in the class to receive a grade of Q (dropped, passing). Up until October 25, you may change between letter-grade and pass-fail status. (Note however that pass-fail registration will not satisfy your science requirement.) To drop after October 25 is even more difficult, since you must also convince the dean of students of your college that you have some "urgent and substantiated nonacademic reason" justifying the drop at such a late date. If you are doing poorly in the class, do take effective action by these deadline days. You invite all sorts of trouble from the administration when you procrastinate past one of them.

QUIZ DATES (all at the start of class) and the Reading they cover

 Quiz 1 Sept 14 Chap 1, 3, 4
 Quiz 2 Sept 28 Chaps 5, 6, 7
 Quiz 3 Oct 12 Chaps 8 (skip 144-151), chaps 9, 10 (skip pages 218 - 222)
 Quiz 4 Oct 26 Chaps 11, 12, 13, 14 (skip from last paragraph of p. 258 to 270)
 Quiz 5 Nov 9 Chaps 15 (skip Inquires 15-3 and 15-4 and the two paragraphs above them). And chaps 16, 17 (skip CNO cycle, p. 344 and pp. 359-360.
 Quiz 6 Nov 28 Chaps 18, 19, 20 (skip pp. 375-378)
 Quiz 7 Dec 7 Chaps 21, 22, 23
 There will be no final exam.

The class lectures will basically follow the pattern of the book chapters, except that the material on Ancient Astronomy will be expanded somewhat in connection with chapters 3 and 4.

Read Chapter 1 now.


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28 August 2000
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