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AST 301 · Introduction to Astronomy    1   2   3   4  

The CD-ROM accompanying the book contains a LOT of material, including the whole textbook, with links to updates on developments that have occurred very recently, links between figures and topics in the text and animations; hyperlinks between all cross-links, glossary terms, and learning objectives; and other stuff. I will NOT hold you directly responsible for any of the material on the CD-ROM that is not in the text. The CD-ROM material can be perused at your discretion. It should be emphasized, however, that you might find your understanding of the material strongly enhanced by, say, looking at pictures and animations on the CD-ROM, so I want to encourage you to at least dabble in the CD-ROM as we cover each new topic.

Similarly, there is a World Wide Web site organized around the chapters and up-dated monthly (, that includes audio and animation clips, a collection of links to astronomy resources, and additional questions and exercises. Use of this site is entirely optional, and I will not assume that you have examined the site at all, EXCEPT for the use of the multiple choice self-testing module at that site. (Click on Astronomy Today 5/e, then "Study Guide".) A separate handout will be passed out listing specific suggested study guide questions.

Because of the large number of topics included in "astronomy" and the finite length of the semester, I have decided to omit several chapters that consist of detailed discussions of objects in our solar system (chapters 7-14), and to not discuss the history of astronomy, except in ways that I will make clear in class. We will also omit Ch.28 (extraterrestrial intelligence); take AST 309L (I will be teaching this in the Spring, for example) for a full-semester treatment of this subject.

We need to first develop the background physical principles that will be used to understand observations and theories. This might be the most crucial part of the course, because it may seem dry and difficult, but much of your later success in understanding the material will depend on how comfortable you are with these basic physical concepts. So probably the most important advice for this course is to NOT get behind in the reading and self-testing for the first part of the course, especially chapters 3 and 4 on the topic of light.

Here is a list of the reading assignments for each of the seven exams. I suggest you copy this to a separate sheet and keep it handy. However because we only have five lectures per exam, and there may be unforeseen circumstances, you should consider this list tentative; if the reading schedule is changed, it will be announced prominently in class and by class email.

Exam 1. Chapters 1 (basics), 2 (gravity, orbits,...), 3 (radiation). Also see Appendices 1and 2 at the end of the textbook. Chapter 3 is especially important for later chapters.

Exam 2. Chapters 4 (spectroscopy) and 5 (telescopes). Chapter 4 is especially important for later chapters, and usually difficult for students.

Exam 3. Chapters 6 (survey of the solar system), 15 (formation of the solar system), and 16 (the sun). [Note that we are skipping chaps.7-14 covering details of the solar system.].

Exam 4. Chapters 17 (properties of stars), 18 (the interstellar gas and dust), and 19 (the birth of stars).

Exam 5. Chapters 20-22 (stellar evolution and death).

Exam 6. Chapters 23 (Milky Way galaxy), 24 (other galaxies), 25 (galaxies and dark matter)

Exam 7. Chapters 26 (cosmology) and 27 (the early universe).

I will detail in class and/or in handouts which material you will not be responsible for. This occurs mainly for chapters 1 and 2; we will read nearly all of the remaining chapters.

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