AST 103L

Astronomical Observations

FALL 1998

Unique #44990, 44995, 45000, 45005

Instructors: Dr. Greg Shields (Monday), Dr. Craig Wheeler (Tuesday), & Dr. Don Winget (Wednesday and Thursday) office hours by appointment only

Teaching Assistant: Pamela Gay
Office hours: Tues. 2:00pm-4:00pm & Wed. 1:00pm-3:00pm
Office: RLM 16.310
Phone: 471-3462

Lab Supervisor: Dr. Mary Kay Hemenway
If you have a problem you cannot work out with your TA, contact your Lab Supervisor
Office: RLM 13.128
Phone: 471-1309

Purpose Prerequisites
& Corequisites


Class Format
& Grading

Working with


This course is designed to introduce you to the methods of science using a variety of activities in astronomy. The course provides a guided exploration that will allow you to make your own discoveries.

Prerequisites & Corequisites
The catalog lists AST 301 as a prerequisite or corequisite. You cannot receive credit for both AST 103L and AST 302 or 303.

Materials & Text

Lab Equipment
Special equipment, including small telescopes, binoculars, cameras and developing equipment, mirrors and lenses will be available for students pursuing advanced topics. You are responsible for any equipment you check out.

Class Format & Grading

For Fall 1998, this course has been redesigned to give you a broader experience in astronomy. To meet this goal, students will be expected to attend every class on the night of the section they are enrolled in. Special exceptions will be made with TA's approval when written notice is given well in advance.

Each class meeting during the first 3/4 of the semester will focus on specific projects geared towards giving you an overview of astronomical methods. The re-design of this class will allow personalized instruction during the last several weeks. This will permit students to pursue their own interests from a list of advanced topics. This time can also be used to make up any sessions missed due to illness.

Each week students will submit a report at the end of the class period. These reports may include assignments and observations that can not be performed during class time. Notebooks may be checked at anytime.

Your grade will depend upon satisfactory completion of all required activities, organization and completeness of notebooks, and weekly reports. To obtain an A, students will also be required to complete a unit on an advanced topic, with a report or test on their topic. No incompletes will be granted. Students may ask the TA review their notebooks during office hours.

There will be a weekly report due at the end of each class for the first nine weeks. Each report will be equally weighted, and the lowest grade will be dropped. Students are expected to attend all classes. All reports are due at the end of each class. At times students may be asked to do in-class quizzes as part of these weekly reports.

Students will be expected to record what they do and observe for class in their laboratory notebooks. Careful observation is the most important part of experimentation. Notes must be complete and easy to follow.

Lab Technique is defined as the ability of students to setup equipment, follow procedures, and participate cooperatively with their classmates; it will also be factored into the grade. In general, this can not hurt your grade, and it provides an easy way to improve your grade. Each class students will receive a check minus, check, or check plus and these will be averaged at the end of the semester.

As mentioned above, students desiring an A in this class are expected to complete an independent advanced project. These will be worth 10% of the final grade, and the criteria for their grading will be discussed individually.

Grading Details
Where the Grade Comes From
Percentage Task Grading Criteria
50% Weekly Reports Accuracy, Neatness, Readability
30% Lab Notes Completeness, Readability
10% Lab Technique Lab Technique (see text)
10% Advanced Projects Discussed with TA

What the Cutoffs Are
Grade % Needed
A 91-100%
B 78-90%
C 65-77%
D 50-64%
F 0-49%

Note to Pass/Fail Students
You can pass this class in a variety of ways. In general, you just need your final average to be above 50% as defined here.

For example, this can be achieved by receiving a perfect score on 5 lab reports, with at least a C on the accompanying lab notes and lab technique grades.

A student could also simply perform at the D level for the entire semester.

Working With Partners
Science is a social effort. You may work on an activity with other students under the following conditions:

Academic Honesty
All lab work, data, graphs, answers to questions, and written summaries must be your own. You may work with others only under the conditions described above.