A301 Homepage
Astro 301/ Fall 2005 / 48310

Introduction to Astronomy

Current Announcements
(Last Update = Mon Dec 19/2005, 11 pm)

  • You can pick up your graded homework 6 and Exam 3 from Donghui on Tue Dec 20 and Wed Dec 21, from 2 to 3 pm in his office RLM 15.202A (located inside the Peridier Library). If you cannot make it at those times, have a friend pick these up for you.

Course Overview
  • Class and Help Schedule: This class A301/48310 meets Tuesday and Thursdays from 12.30 to 2.000 pm in Welch 3.502. The instructor is Professor Shardha Jogee and the teaching assistants (TAs) are David Fisher, Donghui Jeong, and Miranda Nordhaus. There will be plenty of help for this class. Please consult me and the TAs during the office hours listed below if you have any questions. On weeks where a homework is due, David Fisher will hold a help session during his office hour (Mondays, 6 to 7 pm) in RLM 15.216B, unless otherwise announced. Before each exam, there will be a review session either in class of after class from 5 to 7 pm. If you need special help, you can also contact the UT Learning Center for information on free tutoring and academic counseling.

Prof. Shardha Jogee
Tu+Th 5-6 pm or by appointment
RLM 16.224
(512) 471-1395
David Fisher
Mon 6-7 pm or by appointment
RLM 17.304
(512) 471-1495
Donghui Jeong
RLM 15.202A
(512) 471-8316
Miranda Nordhaus
Wed 4.30-5.30 or by appointment
RLM 15.202A
(512) 471-8316

  • Course Description: Astronomy is the greatest adventure humankind has engaged in. It is a quest for our origin and fate, a pursuit of knowledge within the infinite richness of the Universe. In this course, we will learn about the constituents of the Universe, such as stars, galaxies, planets, dark matter, and the recently discovered dark energy. We will study the beautiful physical laws that govern their evolution and address questions on the origin and fate of our world. How did the universe begin in a Big Bang? Over the course of time, how did the cosmic fluid assemble into galaxies like our own, the Milky Way? How do stars, planets, life, galaxies and black holes form and evolve? What are current predictions for the future of our solar system, our Galaxy, and of the Universe as a whole? Can science solve the ultimate mystery of Nature?
Here is an example of a cool image from this course. This picture, called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), is the deepest visible-light image ever made of the Universe. It consists of a one million-second exposure taken by us (the HUDF team) on the Hubble Space Telescope in 2004. It reveal the very first galaxies forming in the Universe and engaging in violent interactions more than 13 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang.

  • Course Pre-Requisites, Textbook, and Syllabus : This is a science class designed for non-science majors: no prior college-level science or math courses are needed, but we will use math at the level of high school algebra. Remember that astronomy is a scientific displine. Therefore, in all astronomy classes, including this one, you are expected to learn physical principles and scientific reasoning. See the "Memo to Undergraduate Astronomy Students regarding Astronomy Courses." The course will be primarily based on the lectures, where I will cover material not discussed in the textbook and use interactive fun learning aids (movies, animations, etc) to clarify new concepts. The course textbook ``The Cosmic Perspective'', 3rd edition, by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, and online material will provide complementary reading. The course syllabus provides an approximate timeline of the topics in class, and a partial reading list.
  • Course Grade: The final grade and grades for individual assignements will be posted online on eGradebook. The final grade will be divided between exams (45%), homework (35%), and in-class quiz/activities (20%), as outlined below.
    1. Three in-class exams will make up 3x15% or 45% of your final grade. There will be no final comprehensive exam.
    2. Your lowest homework score will be dropped, and the remaining scores will make up 35% of the final grade. Late homework will not be accepted for grading unless you have been granted an extension prior to the due date, and in such a case, only partial credit (50% or lower) will be received.
    3. Your lowest in-class activity score will be dropped, and the remaining scores will make up 20% of the final grade. The in-class activity/quiz typically consists of multiple choice questions based on the last lecture or on an assigned reading. It may occasionally be an in-class discussion.
    4. All the assignments are primarily based on the lectures.
    Therefore, if you want to do well in this course, I strongly recommend that you attend classes.
    5. You can earn extra credit (EC) by getting certified to use the Painter Hall Telescope The EC can contribute up to 5% in one of your exams.
    6. When converting your final numerical grades to letter grades, I will use the scheme below or one that is slightly more lenient.
    Letter Grade Numerical Grade
    A 85% to 100%
    B 75% to 84%
    C 60% to 74%
    D 45% to 59%
    F 0% to 44%

    7. You are encouraged to study with other students, but you must write up your own homework, exams, and quizzes. Cheating will be severely punished: if you copy someone's homework/quiz/exam or let someone copy yours, both of you will receive zero credit, and I will consider filing a report to the Dean of Students.
  • Extra Credit: Under some circumstances, you may get extra credit by getting certified to use the Painter Hall 9-inch refracting telescope as follows. Carry out steps 1 to 4 on the certification site and once you pass the test, bring me a note from the observatory assistant stating clearly that you have passed the certification test to use and check out the Painter Hall 9-inch refracting telescope. Please note that you should do this as early as possible in the semester: if you wait till the last weeks and there are weather or technical problems that require dome closure, you will not qualify for this option.

Selected Lecture Notes and Assignments
    You will find below, mostly in pdf format, selected parts of the lecture, such as figures and plots. The main notes, explanations, movies, and demos will be covered only in class where in-class quiz/activities will count toward 20% of the final grade.

  • Lecture 12+13 (Tu Oct 11/2005 + Th Oct 18/2005) (Note Lecture 10 and 11 involved exam 1 and in-class reviews)
  • Homework 4 (Updated Tue Nov 1, 9 pm. The previous version had a typo on question 1a : the mass of the carbon nucleus should read 19.9162 x 10^-27 kg)