Announcements Archive



Course grades have been submitted.

Have a good summer!



About half the class took the second-half of the semester Make-up Exam on May 5. More than half the students who took it improved their numerical course total, although this will not, in some cases, translate into a change in letter grade (it depends on how close you were to a boundary between letter grades).

We are currently recomputing the course totals, but they will not be finalized until Tuesday, March 10, after any further Star Party slips are turned in. See the Grading page for instructions on how to turn these in for credit, and also on how to translate your numerical Course Total score into its corresponding letter grade.



As of Friday, April 29, total course scores have been calculated and are posted on Blackboard. (If you cannot see these yet, try again, a little later.) We have posted total credits in the four categories of participation, homework, quizzes, and multiple-choice exams. Instead of emailing your professor or T.A., read the explanation about how to interpret these scores on the Grading page of this website.

For some students, it is still possible to improve your course letter grade by participating in class activities during the week of May 2 - 6. There will be another quiz on Tuesday, May 2, on chs. 21 and 22. Star Parties continue this weekend and next week; see the Grading page to find out when and where to turn in the slips for credit. Also note that these items will not change your grade if you have already earned the maximum allowed credit in these categories.

Every student is welcome to take the second-half Make-Up Exam on Thurs., May 5. This can replace a missed or poor score on either Exam 3 or 4. It will start at or almost at the beginning of the class period, so don't arrive late. As for Exam 4, you must bring your U.T. photo ID to the make-up exam. Also, there will be no lecture on May 5, so if you do not plan to take the exam, you don't need to attend that day! (There will be a help session on Wed. afternoon, as usual before exams.)



On Tuesday, April 26, we will finish ch. 22 and possibly begin ch. 21, but the latter will not be included on Exam 4, which will be given on Thurs., Apr. 28. Be sure to bring your UT photo ID to this exam. A Study Guide is posted for Exam 4. Since it does not include any sample multiple-choice questions, I recommend that you look at the multiple-choice questions at the end of each chapter, entitled Quick Quiz.

There will be a Quiz on Tues., Apr. 26. Feedback files are now posted for the Apr. 21 index card and Quiz 10. I am aware that Blackboard does not yet show credits for several recent Index Card credits. This is because we have lost one of the T.A.'s for the class. We will update the information as quickly as we can.



Reminder: Homework must be turned in before class on Thurs., April 21. If you come in after the lecture has started, you may not turn it in until the end of class. It will be counted as late, and 1 point will be deducted. If you turn in your homework by 9:30 AM on Friday, following the instructions on the FAQ page, it will be counted as late with 2 points deducted.

Thursday's class will focus on the rest of ch. 23, and also on ch. 22. Depending on where we stop, Exam 4 might or might not include ch. 21. However, we will certainly discuss portions of ch. 21, and it will be included on the Make-Up Exam on May 5.

** You must bring your UT picture ID to all future exams. This is a direct response to cheating that occurred at a previous exam, which has been reported to the Dean of Students. Scholastic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this class.



Homework 8 is now posted, and is due Thurs., April 21 before class. Also posted are the Lecture Slides and Index Card file from today (April 14). We will finish ch. 20 next Tuesday, then skip ahead to ch. 23. (Most likely, we will cover at least some of chapters 21 and 22 afterwards.)

We have now had 11 in-class participation activities (on index cards), and should have a couple more, but if you are low on participation credits, consider attending a Star Party; see the Participation Credits page for details. Note, however, that no more than 10 participation points count towards your grade. If you are low on Quiz credits, plan to attend class regularly; there should be a couple of additional quizzes in the next 3 weeks.



We have now started our last unit, on Galaxies and the Universe at Large. We covered most of ch. 19 on Tues., April 12; we will finish a couple of remaining topics (spiral arms and the central black hole), and move on to ch. 20, on Thursday. HW 7 is due before class on Thurs., April 14, as well as any writeups of the April 11 Public Lecture that you are submitting for credit.

Star Parties continue through the end of the semester, with the later start time of 8:30 P.M.; see the Participation Credits page for details.



Another public talk has come to my attention, and by good fortune it's about a topic we just covered in class. Prof. Jenny Greene of U.T. Austin will give a special lecture entitled Black Holes - Tiny but Powerful on Mon., April 11 at 8 P.M. at the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History, located just south of the U.T. Campus. For further details, go to the Astronomy home page, If you want participation credit for this talk, you must turn in a brief write-up in essay format, in your own words, no later than Thurs., April 14 (hard copy only). If you don't need the credit, you might still enjoy the talk!

Grades for Exam 3 will be available on Blackboard by Monday, April 11, and a Frequently Missed Questions file posted on the Hour Exams page.

The reading for next week is chs. 19 & 20; we are moving on to the topic of galaxies and the Universe. HW 7 will be posted by Friday afternoon and due Thurs., April 14, before class.



Exam 3 will be given in class on Thurs., April 7, about half an hour into the class period. You must be present at the start of the exam in order to receive credit for it. The Study Guide has been posted since last week, and there will be a Help Session on Wed. afternoon, as usual.

As of Tues. afternoon, the Lecture Slides for both Tues. and Thurs. are posted, along with answers for Quiz 8. Soon to be posted: the feedback file for Quiz 9 and the April 5 Card.



On Thurs., March 31 we covered all of ch. 17 except section 17.4. We will cover this, and ch. 18, next week. Exam 3 will be on Thurs., Apr. 7; the Study Guide is posted and a Help Session will be offered on Wed., Apr. 6.

Students who have stopped attending class are missing opportunities to earn participation points, which can be supplemented with Star Parties, and also Quiz credits, which can only be earned in class. A maximum of 10 participation points can be earned over the whole semester, and any extra points do not count towards quizzes, exams, or any other credit.



We have now covered most of ch. 15, Surveying the Stars. Next Tuesday we will finish that chapter (pp. 508-512), briefly touch on the last part of ch. 16 (pp. 529-532), and then move on to ch. 17, which introduces many new and important ideas.

HW 6 is (or will be) posted. It is due Thurs., Mar. 31 at the start of class, along with your write-up from the Public Lecture on March 24, if you are seeking participation credit for the talk. Also available now (or soon) are feedback files on the Index Card from Mar. 22 and Quiz 7. The next hour exam will be Thurs., April 7, and will cover the portions of chs. 14 - 18 emphasized in class. As usual, a Study Guide will be posted about a week before the exam.



Grades for Make-up Exam 1 are now posted on Blackboard. Many students improved their exam total by taking this exam, though usually by just a few points. If your score was lower than on the previous exams, then it will not count. Most of the frequently missed questions were on the topics that were also missed on Exams 1 and 2 (predicting where things are in the sky, spectra, principles of motion, use of orbits, and exoplanets).

After Spring Break, we will launch into the fascinating story of the lives and deaths of the stars, starting in ch. 15. HW 5, on previously covered material, is due Thursday after the break.



On Thurs., March 10, we will begin with an index card on solar neutrinos. We will discuss the rest of ch. 14, before taking the optional Make-up Exam. Those who do not wish to take the exam may leave at that point. The material on ch. 14 will be used in HW 5, which will be posted late Thursday or early Friday, and will be due after Spring Break, on March 24.

Lecture Slides are now posted for both March 8 and March 10, and a feedback file on Quiz 6 is (or will be) posted.

After Spring Break, we will plunge into the topic of stars, beginning with ch. 15. Also, we will assess your performance in the first half of the course, and project your expected grade assuming continued performance at that level.

Have a nice break!



Grades for Exam 2 are now available through Blackboard, and the correspondence table of letter grades for numerical scores is the same as for Exam 1 (see Hour Exams page). The average grade on Exam 2 was 23, and a higher proportion of the class received A's than on Exam 1. A Frequently Missed Questions (FMQ) file for Exam 2 is or will be posted.

The Make-up exam for either Exam 1 or 2 will be given on Thurs., Mar. 10; this is your only opportunity to make up or try a "do-over" for either of these exams. Although there will also be a Make-up Exam in early May, that one can substitute for only Exam 3 or 4. There is no new Study Guide for the make-up exam (see the previous two Study Guides), but there will be an afternoon help session on Wed., Mar. 9.

We are now starting our unit on Stars, beginning with ch. 14 this week, and continuing with ch. 15 after Spring Break. This puts us back on the schedule in the course syllabus. HW 5 will be posted by the end of this week and due Thurs., Mar. 24.



Although in general lecture slides are not posted in advance, I have made an exception for this week, and lecture slides for both Mar. 1 and Mar. 3 are now posted. A file on the index card activity of Mar. 1 will be posted on Mar. 3.

Exam 2 will be on Thurs., Mar. 3 during the latter half of class. There will be a help session on Wed. at the usual time and place. A new Study Guide is now posted on the Hour Exams page; it serves as a study guide for both Exam 2 and the first-half (of the semester) make-up exam. The Study Guide provides guidance on which concepts and topics are most important to study, through a list of key words, recommended review questions and tutorials, and a page of sample questions. You should also be sure that you understand the points covered in homeworks, quizzes, and index cards assigned since Exam 1.



Exam 2 will be on Thurs., Mar. 3 during the latter half of class. There will be a help session on Wed. at the usual time and place. A new Study Guide is now posted on the Hour Exams page; it serves as a study guide for both Exam 2 and the first-half (of the semester) make-up exam. The Study Guide provides guidance on which concepts and topics are most important to study, through a list of key words, recommended review questions and tutorials, and a page of sample questions. You should also be sure that you understand the points covered in homeworks, quizzes, and index cards assigned since Exam 1. In cases where many people lost credit on these due to misunderstandings, there are feedback files posted on the appropriate web page. For example, a new file was just posted yesterday for Quiz 5.

Recent graded homeworks and quizzes will be available in the mailboxes in the lobby of Welch 3.502 before class on Tues., Mar. 1 (or at any later time, as long as the building is open). While the instructor and T.A.s can answer questions about items you got wrong on Exam 1, please consult the FMQ = Frequently Missed Questions file on the Hour Exams page before asking for individual exam reviews. This file was posted in hopes of avoiding the need for nearly 200 one-on-one reviews of the exam. However, if you had trouble with items not covered in the FMQs, or are still confused on these topics, we are happy to address them during Office Hours or the Help Session.



Many people had difficulty with Quiz 4; in fact, only four students in the entire class answered question 2 correctly! A feedback file about Quiz 4 is now posted on the Quizzes page; also see the Index Card file for Feb. 15. I remind you that all graded homeworks and quizzes since the beginning of the semester are currently in the "homework mailboxes" in the lobby of Welch 3.502. You can pick them up any time the building is open, not just before class meetings. Please make sure that you leave the papers sorted alphabetically as you found them.



Homework 4 is now posted, and is due at the beginning of class on Thurs., Feb. 24. We have finished ch. 5, and expect to cover chs. 6, 7, & 8 next week. This introduces the general topic of the Solar System and planets; further details of which chapters we will cover will be announced next week.

For those who are curious about the exam, see the FMQ = Frequently Missed Questions file on the Hour Exams page.



You can look up your raw score on Exam 1 on Blackboard, but if you want to understand how to interpret it, see the Grading link, where you will find correspondence table between numerical score and the equivalent letter grade (and a table of statistics of performance on this exam). If you are not satisfied with how you did on Exam 1, you have the option of taking the Make-up Exam on March 10 to replace your Exam 1 score (only if you do better on the make-up exam). However, the make-up exam replaces only one of the two earlier exams. Also, the make-up exam will be offered only on that day; absolutely no exceptions.

If you attended the Public Lecture on Saturday, Feb. 12 and want credit for it, you must turn in a report (hard copy only) no later than Thurs., Feb. 17. Homework 3, based ch. 5, is due that day as well, whether or not we have covered all of the chapter in class. There will also be a quiz on ch. 5 on Feb. 17.



Results for Exam 1 will be available early next week. In the meantime, you may wish to take advantage of the opportunity to earn a participation credit, or just to hear an interesting talk, by attending the Public Lecture on "Exploring Newly Discovered Worlds with the Giant Magellan Telescope," by Prof. Dan Jaffe, on Sat., Feb. 12, at 1 P.M. in ACES; details are posted on the Participation Credits page.

The reading for next week is chs. 5 & 6, and Homework 3, which is on the material in ch. 5, is now posted.



As you prepare for Exam 1 on Thurs., Feb. 10, note the latest postings on this website: there is a feedback file on Quiz 3, as well as on Homework 2, and lecture slides from Tues., Feb. 8 are posted. The exam will begin approximately 20-25 minutes after the beginning of class, but you must be present at the beginning of the exam in order to take it for credit.

The exam covers chapters 1 - 4, the sections indicated on the Readings & Resources page. We will hold office hours and a Help Session on Wed., Feb. 9, but neither the professor nor T.A. will answer questions on Thursday morning before the exam. It is your responsibility to study and prepare for the exam ahead of time.

Regarding participation credits, each index card is worth 1 point, not 2 points. If you are interested in earning participation points outside of class, note the Public Lecture this Saturday at 1 P.M., described on the Participation Credits page.



Update on the Study Guide for Exam 1: This guide, posted on the Hour Exams page, lists some suggested review questions at the ends of the chapters. It gives a warning that some of the question numbers may be different if you have earlier editions of the textbook. In fact, it turns out that the listed question numbers apply to both the 5th and 6th editions, except that I meant to recommend question 24, instead of 23, from chapter 1.

If you have the 4th edition of the book, note the following differences in question numbers: In ch. 3, questions (28, 29, 32, & 33) in the 6th edition correspond to (30, 31, 34, & 35) in the 4th edition. In ch. 4, questions (44, 45, 55, and 56) in the 6th edition are (42, 43, 53, and 54) in the 4th edition.



We are now on ch. 4, which we will finish on Tues., Feb. 8. There will be a quiz that day, on both chs. 3 & 4.

Exam 1 will be given on Thurs., Feb. 10; a Study Guide was distributed in class, and is also posted on the Hour Exams page. This exam will cover the assigned portions of ch. 1 - 4; it will not include ch. 5 (a change from the Syllabus). To get help with your questions, please plan to make use of our office hours next week or to attend the Wed. afternoon Help Session.



We have now essentially completed the parts of ch. 3 for which you will be responsible, except for a footnote on Galileo's contributions. On Thurs., Feb. 3 (the New Year for many on the lunar calendar!) we will begin ch. 4. Homework 2 is due at the beginning of class on Thurs., Feb. 3. There will be office hours and a Help Session on Wed. afternoon (see right).

Exam 1 will be given on Thurs., Feb. 10; a Study Guide will be distributed soon. If you are a student with certified disabilities needing special accomodation, you must provide the instructor with an official letter (on paper) no later than Thurs., Feb. 3 in order that appropriate arrangements can be made.



On Thurs., Jan. 27 we completed the material in ch. 2 and moved on; we will cover only sections 3.2 & 3.3 of ch. 3 in detail. Since we are no longer distributing the homework assignments on paper, Homework 2 is posted here, and is due at the beginning of class on Thurs., Feb. 3. Note that there will be a brief quiz on ch. 2, on Tues., Feb. 1.

New postings include a detailed schedule of Readings & Resources and a file about the index card activity of 1/27.



We had our first Quiz on Tues., Jan. 25; a file with answers and comments is or will soon be posted on the Quizzes page. Homework 1 is due at the beginning of class on Thurs., Jan. 27. If you have questions about the homework, our first Help Session will be held Wed., Jan. 26. To find the room, take the elevator to the 15th floor of RLM (Robert Lee Moore Hall), go down the hall, bearing left, until you come to kitchen area. The study session will be in the large classroom next to that area (not the Lounge).

The reading for Thursday, Jan. 27 is ch. 2.3 & 2.4, and we will begin ch. 3.2 & 3.3.



We finished ch. 1 and started ch. 2 on Thurs., Jan. 20, reaching about p. 31. Tues., Jan. 25 we will begin class with a short quiz based on ch. 1, then continue with the rest of ch. 2.

Homework 1 has been posted (on this site, not Blackboard!) and is due at the beginning of class on Thurs., Jan. 27. If you have questions on the homework, see the instructor or one of the T.A.s during their office hours (listed at right), or attend the help session. Also, if you are curious about the participation activity question, see the file posted at the Index Cards link.



At the first class meeting, Tues., Jan. 18, we covered most of the topics in chapter 1, sections 1.1 and 1.2 (pages 1 - 14 in the Sixth Edition). On Thurs., Jan. 20, we will finish ch. 1 and move on to ch. 2-1 and 2-2; you are responsible for reading this material in advance. (Note: From now on, I will announce the reading in terms of subsections, because the page numbers sometimes differ between different editions.)



Welcome! A brief, preliminary syllabus is posted on the Syllabus page; a more detailed version will be distributed at the first class meeting on Tues., Jan. 18.