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AST 301 · Introduction to Astronomy    1   2   3   4  

Dropping the Course
(see and General Information, ch.4, for details of required approvals).

The 12th class day, Friday Sept. 12, is the last day to drop courses without penalty and to receive a refund, through their Dean's office. Wed. Sept. 24 is the last day a Q drop may be obtained (with Dean's approval) without the instructor's permission, except for urgent and substantial nonacademic reasons. After the end of the 4th week of class, (Sept. 24) and until the deadline for dropping courses (Wed., Oct. 22), a student wishing to drop a course will ask the instructor to complete a drop form that assigns a Q (ONLY if average grade is D or better) or an F. After Oct. 22, students are only allowed to drop for urgent and substantial nonacademic reasons. For non-academic reasons, a written appeal must be presented in the Student Division of the Dean's Office. The College of Natural Sciences does not in general honor the "one free drop" policy of some other colleges (e.g. Liberal Arts), so do not ask me for a Q drop after Sept. 24 if your grade is failing, or after Oct. 22 for academic reasons (i.e. because your grade is low), no matter what a counselor in your college may have told you.

swan nebula An incomplete (X) will only be considered for students who cannot complete the required course work for reasons other than lack of diligence (illness or other imperative nonacademic reasons), but only if the student has a passing grade on the work completed.

Academic dishonesty will result in failure of the course and a report to the Dean of Students, who will decide on further action. Because of the large size of this class and the temptations involved, it will be important to keep your eyes from wandering and to guard your own exam. Also, bring your UT ID card with you to exams and be prepared to show this card if asked.

Student Observing Opportunities
(schedule is tentative—call 471-5007 for Monday updates)
Students interested in observing the night sky through small telescopes have several opportunities. 1. The Painter Hall Observatory has UT Student/Staff Night on Fridays from 9:30 to 10:30. Public Night is on Saturdays, 8:30 to 10:30. These sessions are free and open to all ages; no reservations are required. 2. The Astronomy Department sponsors weekly "Star Parties" on the 18th floor observing deck of R.L.Moore Hall 30 minutes after sunset (8pm, probably 7pm until the end of daylight saving time) on Wednesdays this fall. This is free and open to the public. First Wed. night will be Sept. 4. Call 471-5007 for a list of all Astronomy Department public events.

Course Description
This course is meant as a descriptive introduction to a wide range of topics in astronomy for students who are not science or math majors. The emphasis in this course is on description of astronomical phenomena, how astronomical observations can be interpreted, and physical theories for the evolution of various types of astronomical objects. Concerning the mathematical level, it is minimal in this course. Students will rarely be required to manipulate equations as part of the exams. However you will encounter a few important but simple formulas in the text whose understanding will be helpful. You should also get used to seeing very large and very small numbers expressed in "scientific notation" (be sure to read Appendix 1 of the text, at the end of the book, on this). Another thing that will be very helpful is to develop a comfort with looking at graphs, if you're not already. Comfort with scientific notation and graphs will greatly enhance the ease with which you comprehend concepts later in the course, and so I urge you to spend some time on these matters early in the course. However most of the emphasis in this class will be focussed on a verbal-level presentation and understanding of the material.

The lectures will generally emphasize the most important and/or difficult topics covered in the text and attempt to clarify their connections. The lectures will not cover every topic covered in the text that you are responsible for, so don't assume that if it's not covered in lecture, it won't be on the exam, although I will often tell you in lecture which parts of the text you can skip or are of minor interest. Similarly, there are a few subjects to which I will add material not covered in the text. So you may find it a distinct advantage to attend classes regularly, especially since some of the exam questions may be taken directly from lecture material.

Since reading is all you have to do in this course (besides trying the self-test questions), I expect you not to get behind. In particular, I will assume that you have tried to read the relevant text material before the corresponding lecture, so that the lecture can serve as a concentrated review and clarification.

Your textbook has a number of features worth noting, which I will remind you of as the course proceeds. I chose this text partly because of its outstanding visual displays, which I am hopeful will clarify the text and lectures. Of particular note are the use of "zoom-in" photos and diagrams, and the "spectrum icon" labels under all the photographs, which you will see if you leaf through the book.

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17 August 2004
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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