Printable syllabus [pdf]

89355 AST s301 - Introduction to Astronomy

MTWTHF 11:30 to 1:00pm

Instructor: Judit Györgyey Ries

Office hours: RLM 13.134, Mon 10:00-11:15, Wed 2:30-3:30, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Chris Lindner

Weekly review session: RLM 13.132, Friday 1:30 -3:00

Course Schedule: (Subject to minor changes)

July 15

Introduction: Our Place in The Universe and the Night Sky

(Chapter 1)

July 16

Viewing the Universe from Earth

(Chapter 2)

July 17

Surveying the Universe from Earth

(Chapter 2)

July 18

Astronomy – Historical Overview

(Chapter 3)

July 19

Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo

(Chapter 3)

July 22

Short Quiz – The Tools of the Astronomers

(Chapter 6)

July 23

Our Planetary System; Understanding Gravity

(Chapter 4)

July 24

Terrestrial Worlds

(Chapter 7 and 9)

July 25

Jovian Planets Asteroids, Comets, and Dwarf Planets

(Chapter 11-12)

July 26

Formation of the Solar System

(Chapter 8)

July 29

Short Quiz - Light and Matter

(Chapter 5)

July 30

Light and Matter

(Chapter 5)

July 31

Other Planetary Systems; Astrobiology

(Chapter 13)

August 1

Our Star

(Chapter 14)

August 2

Surveying the Stars

(Chapter 15)

August 5

Short Quiz - Stellar evolution

(Chapter 16-17)

August 6

Birth of Stars

(Chapter 16 -17)

August 7

Death of Stars

(Chapter 18)

August 8

Our Galaxy

(Chapter 19)

August 9


(Chapter 20)

August 12

Short Quiz – Cosmology

(Chapter 21)

August 13

Cosmology (Continued)

(Chapter 21)

August 14

Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Fate of the Universe

(Chapter 22)

August 15

The Beginning of Time

(Chapter 23)

August 16

Comprehensive Final Exam (In class)

Please note: Although textbook is not required you can use “The Cosmic Perspectives” by Bennett et al., 5th or 6th ed. as a reference. One copy will be on reserve in the library.

Course requirements

As in-class interactive learning activities will be an important part of this course, attendance and participation is required, and they will count as part of your grade. The interactive discussions will help you reinforce the concepts in class, helping you complete your homework assignments and prepare you for the final exam.

Homework: A homework assignment will be handed out each Wednesday, due the following Monday at the beginning of class (except for the last week it is due Friday, before class). You are encouraged to discuss the homework and work on it together, but you must write what you turn in on your own, using your own words. Duplicate works will not receive credit; make the work your own. Late homework will be accepted for half credit until the homework is returned. If there is a reading assignment, it should be completed before the date specified. Otherwise, the lectures and tutorials will be less useful in helping you develop a deep understanding of the course topics. It is important to remember that the exams will cover material from the text readings that may or may not be discussed in class.

Grading Scheme:

93 – 100 A
90 – 92.9 A-
87 – 89.9 B+
83 – 86.9 B
80 – 82.9 B-
77 – 79.9 C+
73 – 76.9 C
70 – 72.9 C-
67 – 69.9 D+
63 – 66.9 D
60 – 62.9 D-
< 59.9 F

Tests: There will be a short in-class written Quiz each Monday on the topics covered the previous week, starting with the second week (for a total of four short exams) and a final exam during the last class period. Make up exams will not be given; however, you are allowed to miss one quiz (or drop the worst, see below). They will emphasize material discussed in class, but may include topics covered only in an Internet based reading assignment. All quizzes and exams will be closed book and closed-notes, and calculators will not be allowed (or needed). It is important to remember that the exams will cover material from the assigned reading that may or may not be discussed in class.

Grades: Grades will be based on attendance and in class participation (15% of the grade), homework (25%), four short exams (30%), and the final (30%). Your lowest quiz and homework scores (one of each) will be dropped. The final exam cannot be dropped.

There will be no get extra credit assignments available for this course. Just come to class and participate.

Collaboration: The interactive lessons are designed around student collaboration, such as Think-Pair-Share activities; fill in the words, or tutorials. You are also encouraged to study and work on homework assignments with other students and to get help during office hours, but you must write out your own answers. If you copy someone's homework or let someone copy yours, both of you will receive zero credit. But you will likely find that discussions with your fellow students can help identify and solve the problems, and help with clarifying concepts.

Course Conduct

Please turn off cell phones before you enter the classroom. Also, please do not leave class early unless you have talked to me in advance, as consideration for your fellow students.

Academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication, as defined in the U of Texas Honor Code ( - Sec-11-802-Scholastic-Dishonesty), is serious offense for which a disciplinary proceeding may be initiated. This includes copying any homework assignments or exams. If very similar work is submitted, all parties involved will receive a zero for their assignment.



Judit Györgyey Ries

RLM 13.134 · (512) 471-3373 · email

Office Hours



Chris Lindner

Weekly Review Session

RLM 13.132, Friday 1:30-3:00