The Cosmic Perspective, 7th edition

On-Line Syllabus, Fall 2016

ASTR 106:
Astronomy of Stellar Systems

Dr. Richard Gelderman
230 Thompson Complex, Central Wing
Dept of Physics and Astronomy
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1077

 MasteringAstronomy login

  • Goals and Philosophy 
  • Grading 
  • Policy on Collaboration 
  • Attendance Policy 
  • Office Hours 
  • Laboratories 
  • Exams 
  • Activities 
  • Extra Credit 
  • Course Schedule 

  • Course Description

    ASTR-106 is a 3-credit course which may be applied toward the General Education Natural Sciences - Mathematics (D-1) requirement as a Designated Lab (DL) course. ASTR 106 is an introduction to the properties of stars and galaxies - the universe beyond our solar system. It is not neccessary to take ASTR 104, Astronomy of the Solar System, before taking ASTR 106. This course includes an integrated laboratory that includes on-line exercises and evening observing sessions using telescopes.

  • Required Text: The Cosmic Perspective (7th edition) by Bennett, Donohue, Schneider, and Voit; including access to the text's online component, MasteringAstronomy (ISBN 9780321839503). The course id for fall 2016 is gelderman89834.

  • Course Goals and Philosophy

    Astronomy of stellar systems includes the study of the nature of light; our Sun as a star; the birth, life and death of stars (including red giants, white dwarfs, black holes, and exploding stars known as supernovae); groups of stars known as galaxies; active galaxies such as quasars and radio galaxies; and the birth, life, and end of the entire universe. Throughout history, we human beings have sought to understand the nature of the universe and the physical principles that govern it. Our understanding of the physical universe is gained through a scientific study of nature.

    It is important that students take responsibility for their education. Ask questions, both inside and outside the classroom. Discuss the material with friends and classmates how this course relates to the real world. Manage your time and do not cram for exams. The student and professor make a team, you both want to learn the material and earn a good grade. Click here to view a brief essay on how to achieve academic success.

  • Grading

    The final grades will be determined from 1000 possible points. Your grade for the course will be determined by your ultimate point total in comparison with the rest of the class.

    100    First Hour Examination
    100    Second Hour Examination
    100    Third Hour Examination
    200    Comprehensive Final Examination
    150    MasteringAstronomy online tutorials and quizzes
      80    In-class activities
    270    Laboratory Exercises

    Your grade for the course will be determined by your ultimate point total in comparison with the rest of the class.

  • Policy on Collaboration

    All work turned in for a grade must be your own. No credit will be given for work that is not demonstrably your own.

  • Attendance Policy

    I expect prompt and regular attendance. Lectures will largely follow the order of the book, though lecture content may differ somewhat from the text. Material presented in lecture takes precedence over the text. Students are advised to keep their notes up to date and to read the text as an accompaniment to their notes. Missed classes should be covered by obtaining notes from other students. In addition, there will occasionally be unscheduled activities distributed for completion during the same class period and counting toward your final grade.

    You must be sure to attend all tests and the final exam at the scheduled times. If you are unable to take an exam with the rest of the class you must notify the instructor before the regularly scheduled exam time. The only makeup exams allowed after the class takes the test will be for students with a verified excuse of illness or extraordinary crisis. A missed exam will otherwise be scored as a zero.

  • Office Hours

    I consider myself to be open and accessible to my students. You are always welcome to drop by my office to seek advice, discuss your progress, or ask questions. If my door is open and I am around, then I will do my best to make time to sit down with you. Anyone who finds that my availability does not live up to my desires can catch me during my scheduled office hours or make an appointment at our mutual convenience.

  • About the Laboratory

    The ASTR 106 lab component is integrated into the lecture. Every student will be expected to be available for at least two evening observing sessions during the semester. The remaining labs must be completed out of class, on your own time.

    The nine required labs for this section of ASTR 106 are:
    Observing Spectra with a Diffraction Grating   (Image of comparison spectra)   begin lab during class on Fri, Feb 12;->
    Using Sunspots to Measure the Sun's Rotation  [30 points], due Mon, Feb 22; ->
    Classification of Stellar Spectra   [30 points], due Fri, Mar 18; ->
    Age of the Crab Nebula Supernova Remnant  [30 points], due Wed Nov 2; ->
    Classifying the Shapes of Galaxies   [30 points], due Fri, Nov 11; ->
    Using Cepheid Variable Stars to Measure the Distance to a Nearby Galaxy   [30 points], due Fri, Nov 11; ->
    Hubble's Law: The Distance--Redshift Relation for Galaxies   [30 points], due Mon, Nov 21; ->
    Large-scale Structure of the Universe   [30 points], due Mon, Dec 05; ->

    Each lab is due at the start of class on the due date. A 10% penalty will be assessed for every 24 hours of lateness, with no exceptions allowed.

  • About the Exams

    The questions will be primarily short answer or multiple choice, but will contain some quantitative problems involving simple algebra. You are required to bring #2 pencils and a calculator to each exam. The instructor will supply 8.5x11 scantron forms to record multiple choice answers. No other outside material, notes, texts, etc., will be allowed.

  • MasteringAstronomy Tutorials and Quizzes, and In-class Activities

    A required component of this class incorporates our textbook's online component, known as MasteringAstronomy. There is a cost associated with access to this website. Students purchasing a new text will find a pasteboard inclusion that contains an access code to allow registration on MasteringAstronomy. An alternative way to pay for access to the site is to use a credit card through a secure online transaction. Students will irretrievably lose the opportunity to earn points if access to MasteringAstronomy is not accomplished by the start of the second week of class.
    To access MasteringAstronomy you will need the following CourseID to sign into our online portal: gelderman89834.
    There is a 14-day trial period before payment is due, so every student should register for MastringAstronomy, associate with our course, and complete the Introduction assignment before the first class meeting. Assignments are set for almost every class meeting and will be posted online at our course site in MasteringAstronomy. Some of these assignments will only be available during the course meeting times. Other assignments will be assigned with at least a week's notice and must completed out of class.
    Your gradebook will be kept on MasteringAstronomy, in addition to the regular (not quite daily) online assignments.

  • Extra Credit

    Throughout the semester, opportunities will be offered to earn a point or two of extra credit, to be applied toward your final point total. The maximum amount extra credit offered over the course of the semester should be enough to raise your final point total by as much as half a letter grade. Some of the extra credit offerings will involve writing essay responses to various questions. Every extra credit submission which responds to the posed question and is returned by the due date will receive full credit; exceptionally good responses may receive additional points.

    Every scheduled Friday meeting of the class, you can earn a point of extra credit by handing in a current news article relating to the astronomical topics covered in this semester's class. Turn in the original item neatly fixed to a sheet of 8.5x11 inch paper, labeled with your name, the source and date of the news item and which chapter in the book to the item most closely relates. Undocumented, illegible or fragmentary or articles will not be accepted.

  • Students with Disabilities

    Students with disabilities who require accomodations (academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids or services) for this course must contact the Office for Student Disability Service, (270) 745-5004 V/TDD. Please do not request accomodations directly from the professor without a letter from the office of Student Disability Services.

  • Course Schedule

    A weekly schedule of the material to be presented. Students should read the appropriate pages from the textbook before that week's lectures.
    Astronomy 106 - Fall 2016 Course Calendar (Watch for Changes!)

    Week of:

    Lecture Topic:


    Due Dates / Tests:

    Aug 22 Tour of the Universe, What is Astronomy?, Constellations 1 - 21, 70 - 79, 117-123, 24 - 32 .
    Aug 29 The Nature of Light, Telescopes 137 - 143, 165 - 185 .
    Sep 5 Energy and Matter, Spectroscopy 143 - 161, 162 - 175, 206-07 No class on Labor Day, in-class lab on Fri
    Sep 12 Spectroscopy, The Sun as a Star 494 - 514 lab due on Mon: Observing Spectra
    Sep 19 Test 1, Measuring Star Properties 134-36, 172-74, 518 - 539 lab due on Wed: Using Sunspots to Measure the Sun's Rotation, Test 1 on Fri
    Sep 26 The Birth and Life of Stars 543 - 560, 564 - 572 lab due on Wed: Classification of Stellar Spectra
    Oct 3 Stellar Evolution 472 - 488, 572 - 583 No class on Fall Break Fri
    Oct 10 The Death of Stars 587 - 604, 608-09 .
    Oct 17 Black Holes and Hyperspace, Test 2 448 - 453, 456 - 468 Test 2 on Fri
    Oct 24 Our Milky Way Galaxy 610 - 630 .
    Oct 31 Evolution of Normal and Active Galaxies 634 - 640, 658 - 676 labs due on Wed: Measuring Distance Using Cepheid Variable Stars, Classification of Galaxy Types
    Nov 7 Size and Structure of the Universe 640 - 654, 535, 582, 680 - 695 lab due on Mon: Measuring the Distance to Nearby Galaxies
    Nov 14 Beginning and End of Time 695 - 702, 706 - 726, 730-31 lab due on Wed: Hubble's Law
    Nov 21 Test 3 . Test 3 Mon; Thanksgiving Break - No class Wed or Fri
    Nov 28 The Meaning of Life 732 - 756, 760-61 lab due on Wed: Large-scale Structure
    Dec 5 Final Exam . Monday, 10:30 - 12:30

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