Office: RLM 17.220
Phone: (512) 471-3425
Syllabus for printing (pdf)
We will present an overview of the contents of the Universe, with a physical explanation of what is there. The
emphasis will be on how astronomers study the Universe and explanations for what they find, rather than on
descriptions. College-level physics and calculus are not required, but we will use high school math (some
trigonometry) and science (Newton's laws).
"Astronomy Today", by Chaisson and McMillan, 6th Edition Note: this book is aimed at non-science majors,
and so uses less math than we will use. Lectures will give more quantitative explanations. Notes will be available
to members of the class.
Homework will be assigned each Friday, due at the beginning of class the next Friday (as noted). Late homework
will receive 1/2 credit. You may get help on homework (or anything else) from the professor or TA during office
hours or by appointment. You are welcome to work on homework with other students, but verbatim copies of
homeworks will not be accepted.
There will be 6 half-period quizzes, one roughly every two weeks. Changes to the topics to be covered will be
announced in class the week before each quiz.
Homework will count 1/4 of your grade, quizzes will count 1/3, participation (class and extras) 1/12, and the
final exam 1/3. Your lowest homework and lowest quiz score will be dropped. Note: You will not be allowed to drop
quizzes you have not taken or homework you have not handed in. We will not have one make-up quiz at the end
of the semester. You will only be eligible to take this quiz if you have either (a) an officially excused absence under
university policy (sanctioned event, religious holiday)and have complied with the notification rules or (b) notified
us prior to a quiz of a significantly impairing illness or injury. Exceptions to (b) will only be granted to those who
can demonstrate that they were comatose (not asleep) before and during the quiz in question. Although this is not a
writing class, test answers will usually consist of short written explanations, and we will count off for confusing or