Spring 2015

Introductory Astronomy
ASTR 104

Online Syllabus

I. Course Description

ASTR 104 is an introduction to the stars, Sun, Moon, and planets as viewed from Earth, timekeeping, celestial navigation, lunar phases, eclipses, the historical development of the scientific understanding of our solar system, and the properties of asteroids, comets, moons, and planets.

ASTR 104 is a 3-credit course which may be applied toward the WKU Colonnade Program (fall 2014 and beyond) or General Education (prior to fall 2014) requirements for a laboratory science course. Within the Colonnade Program, ASTR 104 is one of the approved courses for the Natural and Physics Sciences with an essential applied/lab component (SL). In the GenEd system that is being phased out, ASTR 104 fulfills the Natural Sciences - Mathematics (D-1) requirement as a Designated Lab (DL) course. This three-credit course includes an integrated laboratory component that includes required evening observing sessions.

Pre-requisites: None

Please be aware this is a demanding and rigorous course. To succeed in this course it is necessary that you have passed high school algebra and possess solid college-level reading, writing and critical thinking skills.

II. Textbook
cover: The Cosmic Perspective, 7e At minimum, each student is required to have her/his own account with MasteringAstronomy and access to the e-book version of the current edition of our text. Access to our course within Modified MasteringAstronomy requires our Course ID (gelderman09044) and can be purchased on-line through the MyLab and Mastering website.

J. Bennett, M. Donahue, S. Schneider & M. Voit (2014), The Cosmic Perspective, 7e with Modified MasteringAstronomy, Addison-Wesley, ISBN 9780321-906953

III. Instructor: Richard Gelderman

230 Thompson Complex, Central Wing
Western Kentucky University
Department of Physics and Astronomy
1906 College Heights Blvd
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101-1077
270 745 6203


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

A. Identify and construct the hierarchy of objects in the observable universe.

B. Explain the current theories of the origin of the universe, the observational tests for these theories, and how the universe and its components change with time.

C. Understand the motions of celestial objects as seen from Earth: the apparent motions of the stars, planets, Sun and Moon; and phenomena such as eclipses, comets, and meteors.

D. Describe the scientific method and its importance. Distinguish evidence-based scientific theories from thinking that is not scientific. Transfer data from/to tables and/or plots and be able to reach conclusions based on observational data.

E. Summarize the history of astronomy associated with the attempts to explain astronomical phenomena, including the seasons, the phases of the Moon, eclipses, and planetary motion.

F. Explain how the cosmos is "knowable" by the laws of physics we have discovered on Earth and how the physical laws are responsible for the behavior of the universe. Identify the astrophysics behind news stories about the latest discoveries in astronomy and space.

G. Explain the theories of the origin and evolution of the sun, planets, moons, and minor objects in the solar system.

V. Course Requirements and Grades

  1. Policy Submission of Graded Work:
    Online Activities, tutorials, and quizzes, must be submitted via MasteringAstronomy. No work will be accepted for a grade beyond the due date. All work turned in for a grade must be your own. No credit will be given for work that is not demonstrably your own.
  2. The following grade scale will be used to determine your semester grade
    Grade Points
    A 900-1000
    B 800-899
    C 700-799
    D 600-699
    F 0-599

Updated 11 August 2014