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AST 301 · Introduction to Astronomy    1   2   3  

I very much like the textbook selected for this course, in part because it begins with, and spends much time on the subject of "stellar" astronomy. This research area is of keen interest to me. However, there are a large number of other pretty good introductory textbooks on the market today. If you wish to read one of these other texts for a fresh idea about a topic, please see us and we shall be happy to lend you a text (there are some also in the PMA library, which is located in the RLM building).

You may be interested to visit our Student Observatory on the roof of Painter Hall. This houses a 9-inch refracting telescope. The public nights are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday -clear nights only! The Painter Hall telescope is a simple one to use and students (you!) can be checked out to observe independently with it. For further information, please visit the links at

Astronomy is an observational science. In order to gather observations for our research, we must visit the University's McDonald Observatory in West Texas and other astronomical institutions around the world. Infrequently, I also attend meetings of editors of astronomy journals. However, this travel should not occur at the expense of your education. On the occasions when I must be absent from class, another faculty member will conduct the lectures. All class periods will be held! I will attempt to manuever one or two of the exam dates to coincide with travel dates, in order to minimize the use of substitute lecturers this semester.

Class Policies
Let's get the grumbles and fusses out of the way ...

Homework assignments will be handed out for return in not less than 1 week. Each assignment will have a due date. Since we drop the lowest of the homework grades, late assignments will not be accepted for grading.

The final examination will be comprehensive. It will be held on the date scheduled by the University: Thursday, May 8, 2:00-5:00 PM (we probably will make the final exam shorter than 3 hours; details to be given later in the semester). There will be no make-up final exam scheduled.

Some math at the level of high school algebra will be required for the homework sets. We will expect you to practice and be comfortable with such things as scientific notation, and simple manipulation of basic astronomical formulae. Are you rusty in such math skills? We will be happy to help you! The math level should in no way challenge anyone who has met the UT math requirement. There will be no math called for on the examinations.

All work handed in for grading must be your own work. If you discuss the homework assignment with a friend, we urge you to use your own words and imagination in writing your answers. Homework sets that are nearly identical will result in grades of zeros for all involved. If you are puzzled by a question, do not copy out a friend's answer, but come to the help sessions and to our offices, and discuss the problem. Don't be shy! We are here to help!

Copying during exams is a heinous crime for which the punishment will be a zero for that exam at minumum to an F for the course at maximum. We shall not hesitate to report such cases to the Dean of Students.

The University's deadlines and rules regarding "dropping" the course will be strictly enforced.

To encourage your understanding of the course material, we greatly encourage you to take advantage of standard office hours. We will conduct help/review sessions prior to dates of homeworks and exams. I plan on personally conducting most of the reviews. These sessions have proved in the past to be extremely helpful to students! Please come to the help sessions prepared to participate! I refuse to use those times to lecture at you (that would be unhelpful to all of us).

Finally, PLEASE help the classroom environment by turning off all cell phones, text messaging devices, etc.

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14 January 2008
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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