Printable syllabus [pdf]

88840 AST s301 - Introduction to Astronomy

MTWTHF 11:30-1:00 · RLM 15.216B

Instructor: Judit Györgyey Ries

Office hours: RLM 13.134, Mon 10:00-11:30, Thursday 1:30-3:30, or by appointment

Teaching Assistants

Jacob Hummel - Office hours: Tue, Wed 1:00-2:00

Myoungwon Jeon - Office hours: Tue, Wed 2:30-3:30

Weekly review session: Friday 3:30 - 4:30 in RLM 13.132

Course Schedule: (The dates of the topics are subject to minor changes)

July 15

Introduction – The Scale of the Universe

July 16

Basic Cycles on the Sky – Day, Week, and Year

July 17

Viewing the Night Sky

July 18

Lunar Phases, Seasons

July 21

Exam 1, The Tools of the Astronomers

July 22

Understanding Gravity

July 23

Terrestrial Worlds

July 24

Jovian Planets Asteroids, Comets, and Dwarf Planets

July 25

Other Planetary Systems

July 28

Exam 2, Formation of the Solar System

July 29

Light and Matter

July 30

What Can We Learn from Analyzing light

July 31

Our Star

August 1

Surveying the Stars

August 4

Exam 3, The Hertzsprung-Russel diagram

August 5

Stellar evolution

August 6

Birth of Stars

August 7

Death of Stars

August 8

Our Galaxy

August 11

Exam 4, Galaxies

August 12

Cosmology - the Cosmic Ladder

August 13

Cosmology (Continued)

August 14

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

August 15

Last minute questions, Exam 5

I will post all the class presentation as a PDF file on the class CANVAS website. Although textbook is not required you can use "The Cosmic Perspectives" by Bennett et al., 5th or 6th ed. as a reference. Two copies will be on reserve in the Astronomy library on the 15th floor and 2 in the RLM main library. If necessary I will post additional resources on the class page. I will correlate the class subjects with the book chapters, and make it available to you on Canvas.

Course requirements

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 for the exams. Research into how people learn shows that active discussions, verbalizing your thoughts, help in understanding and retaining the material.

Homework: A short home work assignment will be handed out each Thursday, due Monday, before the test. I encourage you to discuss the home work with others, 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.

Tests: There will be an in-class written exam each Monday on the topics covered the previous week, except the last week of classes (for a total of five exams). There will be no final exam for the course. Make up exams will not be given; however, you are allowed to miss one of the five (or drop the worst). They will only include material 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

There will be a one or two question surprise quiz every day from the previous day's material, except on exam days. The surprise is, when the quiz will be during the class. All quizzes and exams will be closed book and closed-note.

Grades: Grades will be based on attendance and in class participation (10% of the grade), quizzes (5%), home works (30%), and the four exams (55%). If you take all five exams I will drop the worst score when I calculate your grade, or you can miss one, but you lose the drop option. Please note, that passing 4 exams and having a perfect attendance will give you a passing grade.

Extra credit assignments will not be an option for the course, just come to class and participate. If you missed a class, or need to clear up some concepts, come to our office hours, we will be there for you.

If you have any questions about your standing in the course, feel free to come by and ask me either during office hours, or by arranging a meeting. I prefer personal discussion to e-mail.

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. You will find that discussions with your fellow students can help identify and solve the problems, and help with clarifying concepts.

If you copy someone's homework or let someone copy yours, both of you will receive zero credit.

Course Conduct

Please put your cell phones on vibrate before you enter the classroom, and answer it only in the case of emergency. Also, as consideration for your fellow students stay till the end of the class early unless you have talked to me in advance about leaving.

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



Jacob Hummel


Myoungwon Jeon

Weekly Review Session

RLM 13.132, Friday 3-4:30