Astronomy 301 - Spring 2009
INTRODUCTION TO ASTRONOMY
MWF 9:00-10:00 · WEL 3.502 · Unique No. 48450
Course web page: You can navigate to it through the departmental site http://www.as.utexas.edu/astronomy/education/courses.html
The course website will contain the syllabus; an outline of most class lectures (usually as pdf files); a way for you to easily check your exam scores (link to eGradebook); and a simple way for me to distribute handouts or make slight revisions to the reading assignments or subsections covered on exams. I urge you to check the website often, and keep the url in a handy place.
Grading: 90% of your grade is based on exams, 10% on pop-quizzes. "Homework" contributes to exam scores (see below)
Exams: 90% of your grade will be based on 7 exams (about one every two weeks, beginning with Exam 1, Feb 4 (Wed). All exams will be weighted equally except that your lowest exam score will only receive a weight of 1/2 compared to the others. So you have to take all the exams, but if you have an off day (or week, etc.) it won't hurt your final grade too much. The topics and dates of the exams (tentative--any changes will be announced heavily in class and at the class website) are listed below. There will be no comprehensive final. The exams will probably consist entirely of multiple choice questions, depending on class size. I will prepare you for the nature of the exam questions by occasionally giving sample questions during lectures, by pointing out the types of information that I expect you to understand or remember, and giving examples on review sheets. There is a good multiple choice interactive self-testing part of the text web site (http://www.prenhall.com/chaisson, link provided through course website) that I urge you to use, since the exam questions will be of that form, and some will be taken from this source. (Click on Astronomy Today 6/e, then use the Multiple Choice and True and False questions for each chapter.) I will suggest which questions to try as we finish each chapter.
In case of medical or other non-academic emergencies or situations, contact me as early as possible--it may be possible for you to take an exam a day or so early or late in these cases (but not for academic reasons).
We will try to return exam grades through the UT eGradebook system (link is in course web site, or link directly) within one or two days of the day of the exam. You will turn in your exams, but can compare your answers with an exam marked with correct answers, located at the back of the classroom, a couple of days later. For this reason, you should record your answers (e.g. 15a, 16d, …) on a separate piece of paper before you turn in the exam. Take time to carefully compare your answers with the correct answers--this is often good preparation for the next exam.
Homework: There is homework in this class, but it won't be turned in. Instead the homework consists of a subset of the questions at the end of each chapter and especially on the interactive multiple choice self-testing part of the text web site. The purposes of the homework are to give you a way of testing your understanding of the material, to provide a guide to the most important concepts, and to force you to keep up with the material. Although the homework will not be turned in, they are "graded" in the sense that some of them appear on exams; you will probably find that your exam grades suffer significantly if you do not attempt to work through these assignments.