TTh 12:30-2 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 47655

planetary nebula

NGC 3242 (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


Don Winget

RLM 16.236 · Th 2-3, or by appt · (512) 471-3404 · email

Courses - Fall '10  |  BlackBoard[Bb]

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Introduction to Astronomy

Fall 2010 Unique No. 47655 | TTh 12:30-2:00 | WEL 3.502

Printable syllabus (pdf)

Don Winget
Office: R.L. Moore 16.236
Phone: 471-3404 or Lab RLM 16.234, 471-6417
Email: dew 'at'
Office Hours (subject to change): Th 9:45-10:45 (or by appointment)


JJ Hermes
Office: RLM 16.318
Phone: 471-3466
Email: jjhermes 'at'
Office Hours: TTh 3-4 pm (or by appointment)

Ajay Gopinath
Office: ACES 2NEo2B
Phone: 232-7416
Email: ajay.g 'at'
Office Hours: M 1-2 pm

Click for map to Ajay's office

ajay's office

TEXTBOOKS (These texts are not required for this course, but are highly recommended.)
Recommended: The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium, 3rd Ed., by Pasachoff and Filippenko

An excellent and accessible textbook. A used copy is $40 cheaper and equally valuable.

Recommended: Astronomy: A Visual Guide, by Mark A. Garlick

A beautiful yet simple illustrated guide to the cosmos, featuring stunning photographs and illustrations. While not stocked at the University Co-Op, several used copies can be found at Half Price Books. New copies are available at most bookstores, and are $30 on

This course is a descriptive survey of the field of astronomy. I will not emphasize mathematics. However, an understanding of basic algebra will be helpful. The course will provide you with a perspective on the universe: its scale, structure, contents, and evolution.

There will be a total of four in-class exams. Your grade will be determined from the best three exam scores, weighted 25% each. Three homework assignments, equally weighted, will constitute 15% of your overall grade. An astronomical observing assignment will account for an additional 10%. You will have an optional semester project, on a topic of your choosing, to replace your lowest exam score; the topic must be approved by JJ or me in advance of the announced topic deadline. As a result of this policy, we do not give make-up exams.

The optional semester project is very open-ended, but should relate astronomy to something you are passionate about. For example, past students have submitted films they produced, written one act plays with the planets as anthropomorphic characters, written lesson plans for kindergarten classes, written position papers about colonizing other planets, and have made films with sock puppets. The deadline for optional semester project approval is Thursday, 30 September 2010. Please double check with JJ or me to make sure that we actually have your topic written down and not just simply verbally approved.

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