AST 309N

Reading Assignments




Review Sheets

Supplemental Texts


Extra Credit







HOURS: MWF 11-12 AM or by appointment; do not hesitate to talk to me if you have questions or problems. My job is to help.

GRADES: There will be five 50 minute long examinations each counting 20 percent of the grade. The exams are scheduled for 9/10, 10/1, 10/22, 11/12 and 12/3. No exam dropped. The exams will be multiple choice. There will be no final exam. Plus/minus grading will be used for the final grade; for example: 79.5 – 83.3 B-, 83.4 – 86.6 B, 86.7 – 89.4 B+. There are no A+ grades. Averages above 93.4 get an A.

EXTRA CREDIT: Sky watch project to identify objects or constellations containing objects like supernovae and black holes that are relevant to the course (5 points maximum added to each exam). Questions on exams about astronomy in the news (2 questions, 2 points maximum per exam). It is possible to get 107/100 points on each of the five exams. See Extra Credit handout for details.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a specialized course for non-science majors that will presume some knowledge of the basic astronomical concepts presented in Astronomy 301. There will be a minimum of mathematics, but a familiarity with basic algebra and scientific notation ("powers of ten") will be helpful.

COURSE CONTENT: Discussion of supernovae, neutron stars and black holes with applications to gamma-ray bursts, worm holes, determining the origin, state, and fate of the Universe, and hints of extra dimensions (see Schedule).

TEXT: The book was written by the instructor based on many years of teaching this class. It is entitled Cosmic Catastrophes: Exploding Stars, Black Holes and Mapping the Universe, Second Edition, published by Cambridge University Press. An electronic edition is available from the UT library.

HELP SESSIONS: Weekly help sessions will be scheduled Thursday in RLM 15.216B at 5:00-6:00 PM to discuss class material and exams. These sessions and office hours allow a more nearly one-on-one relationship and are a valuable addition to the lecture. Another room may be scheduled before exams.

DISABILITIES: Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.

(Note: we do not use Blackboard - we will link Blackboard to this site)