MWF 11:00-12:00 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 48515


John Lacy

RLM 16.332 · (512) 471-1469 · email

Courses - Spr '09  |  Course Website

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An Introduction to the Solar System, ed. McBride & Gilmour.

AST 301 or equivalent introduction to astronomy.

We will discuss the planets, moons, and other bodies in the solar system. Our emphasis will be on how the solar system bodies got to be like they are and why they differ as they do. This course is for non-science majors, and we do not expect you to have taken any physics courses. But we will be discussing physical laws and how they apply to the solar system. And we will at times put numbers into formulas.

Reading and Homework
A chapter of reading will be assigned most weeks. You must do the reading by the day we start the chapter (usually a Monday), and we will have a quiz on days when we start a new chapter. Each quiz will have one question about the previous chapter and one on the reading. An ongoing assignment for the semester will be to watch the planets and keep a record of your observations. In addition, we will have other homework assignments involving observations or calculations. You are encouraged to work together on homework and get help from us, but you must write out your own answers in your own words. Duplicate homeworks will not receive credit. Late homeworks will receive half credit up until the day we return them to you.

There will be 4 exams (see the schedule on back) and an optional final. The final will be a comprehensive one-hour test, which can be used to replace your lowest exam score. At the same time there will be a second one-hour make-up test for excused absences. For an absence to be excused, you must contact the professor before the exam with a good reason for the absence or provide a doctor's note when you return. Exams will cover material from both class and the reading. The exams will be closed-book and closed-notes, and calculators will not be allowed (or needed).

60% of your grade will be determined from your exam scores and 40% from homeworks, quizzes, and other in-class assignments. Your lowest quiz and homework scores (one of each) will be dropped.

You are encouraged to study and work on homework assignments with other students, and you are encouraged to get help from the professor and TAs, but you must write out your own answers and make the assigned observations yourself. If you copy another homework or let someone copy yours, both of you will receive zero credit.

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