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Astronomy 301 - Fall 2007
TTh 9:30-11:00 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 50530
TTh 11:00-12:30 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 50545


Paul Harvey

Phone: (512) 431-5896

Course Website



Jessica Wood


Sehyun Hwang


Meghann Agarwal

Course Description
This course is an introduction to astronomy at the undergraduate level. We will be covering the basic physics of light and radiation which is absolutely fundamental to understanding astronomy. Then, of course, we will talk about stars, our solar system, galaxies, and cosmology. We will use math at the high school algebra and trigonometry level. I usually give a few examples the first class day.

Grading will be based solely on tests, but we will assign "homework" to be done as practice and learning for the tests. You do not need to turn in the homework, but doing the problems and checking that you have done them correctly is a very important part of the learning process. If you try to skip this, you will only do well in the class if you are already a sharp science/engineering major I suspect. In addition to our office hours, we will have evening review sessions scheduled before each test where you can ask questions about the homework or anything else you would like help with.

The tests will probably consist of about 25 multiple choice questions and a couple problems to work and/or essay questions. You will choose which one of the possible problems/ essays to submit for credit on the test, i.e. only one counts. Your final grades will be curved based on the raw average of the best 4 of your 5 test grades. After each test, I will tell you what the curve would be if I were forced to give you a letter grade based on that one test. In general, I find that the final curve at the end of the course is sometimes a couple points more forgiving than the raw scores, but not more than that.

I am quite open to questions and suggestions for topics to cover if there is time. I will have a small box available each class for you to drop questions or comments into after each class (anonymously if you prefer). As far as "office hours" go, in general I am happy to see you in my office any time you can catch me. Typically I am in my office between 9am and late afternoon with the exception of my excercise times (lunchtime MWF, and late afternoon TTh) and times of meetings and seminars in the Astronomy Department. By far the best thing to do if you want to see me is to arrange a meeting time by phone or just ask me at the end of some class what a good time would be to meet.

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15 August 2007
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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