Office: RLM 17.218
Office hrs: 12:30-1:30 PM
Check here for assignments and special announcements.
HELP SESSIONS / OFFICE HOURS
There will be several help sessions and office hours each week (see Table 1). We urge you to take advantage of these sessions to get help with homework or to ask questions about the material.
If you have personal issues to discuss, please see Prof. Jaffe during his Tuesday office hour or make an appointment to see him at another time.
Check here for helpful information on homework assignments and answers to questions about the class.
Slides for class lectures.
Horizons: Exploring the Universe by Michael A. Seeds, 7th Edition
IMPORTANT: In this class, we are using the SEVENTH edition. The Co-Op also has the sixth edition available for another class.
This is a course for non-science majors. We will use elementary algebra in class and on homework. For anyone needing help with the math, the TAs and I will always be willing to provide it. The quiz and exam questions will be conceptual, not mathematical. If you are a math or science major, this is not an appropriate course for you.
Grades will be based on homework (50% of the grade), the midterms (20% each), and quizzes (10%). Quizzes will happen roughly once a week during class.
The TAs and I will do everything we can to help you do well in the course. Help will be available outside of class several times every week. Help sessions and office hours are listed in Table 1. These times and locations are subject to change. Please check the on-line version of this syllabus next week and periodically thereafter. Since we will be going over the problems in the homework assignments, we ask you not to be late to the help session if you want to hear a discussion of the first problem in the assignment. Endless repeating of the first problem discussion for the benefit of latecomers bores the students who were on time and drives the instructor crazy.
Extra help sessions will be held before exams. Check the Notices section of the course web page for locations and times.
If you wish, there is a 9-inch telescope available for observing planets and stars, operated by an astronomy graduate student. It is available to you each clear Friday night 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. and each clear Saturday night 8:00 - 10:00 p.m.
CONTENTS AND APPROACH
The emphasis in this course will be seeking an explanation for the phenomena and objects that occur in the Universe. We will discuss physical laws and how astronomers use them to understand their observations. Much of the time during class will be spent discussing explanations and concepts rather than descriptions of astronomical objects. You will have to learn some of the descriptive material from the reading assignments. To succeed in this class you will have to keep up with the reading and come to class and be willing to participate in discussions and activities.
A homework assignment will be handed out each Thursday, due the next Thursday. Some assignments may involve observations of the sky. You must hand in homework to the prof in class. If you are unable to deliver your homework in person, you are responsible for seeing that it gets delivered. Because this class is large, we must have your homework papers turned in by the time they are due. Late homework papers or papers left in the wrong place will not be graded.
Students are encouraged to work and learn together. The homework you hand in, however, must be your own. Copied or paraphrased homework will receive no credit and may result in academic penalties.
There will be two 75 minute exams (October 10 and November 26). There will also be a short quiz every week about the reading and about what we have done in class.
Most questions will require short written (grammatically correct) answers. We will take points off for poorly written or illegible answers. Cheating will absolutely not be tolerated. We prosecute!
If you are unable to attend a quiz or exam due to illness, you must notify me IN ADVANCE. You can do this by e-mail or by phone (leave a message). If you fail to do this, you cannot be excused unless you were demonstrably unconscious at the time of the exam.
It is essential for the success of this class and for your success in it that you do the reading BEFORE we discuss it in class. We will be going through the book in order. I will give you the reading assignments about 10 days ahead of time.
Active participation in class discussions and activities is required. This means do the reading ahead of time and come to class and get involved. You are not expected to know the "right" answer to every question. Attendance in class is a requirement for this course.