Introduction to Astronomy
Astronomy 100/section A801
Instructor: David L. White Dwhite@faculty.umuc.edu
Text: Horizons, Exploring the Universe, 11th edition, 2010, Seeds, M.A., isbn-
(Not open to students who have taken or are taking any astronomy course
numbered 250 or higher. For students not majoring or minoring in a science.)
Prerequisite: MATH 012 or higher. A discussion of the major areas of
astronomy. Topics include the solar system, stars and stellar evolution, and
galaxies. Current topics in astronomy are also discussed. Students may
receive credit for only one of the following courses: ASTR 100, ASTR 101,
ASTR 120, or GNSC 125.
Astronomy is fascinating. Its history is rooted in the ancient scientists, philosophers, and
star gazers of ancient civilizations. The studies at that time were to determine the best
time to plant crops, to determine the calendar, and to find our place in space. It is still a
young and vibrant science but today astronomers study the sky to determine the origin of
stars, galaxies, and the origin of the universe itself.
On our journey through this course, we will look at our sun, our planet, our moon, our
solar system and our galaxy. We will learn how stars are born, how they live and how
they die. We will also be introduced to other galaxies and how they are similar to and yet
different from our own galaxy. Lastly we will put together the pieces of astronomical
and astrophysical observations and discuss a tentative model for the origin of our
Astronomy borrows heavily from the other sciences. We flirt with physics, chemistry,
geology, biology, and mathematics. An understanding of algebra is particularly
important for working some of the quantitative problems. Much of the borrowed
information is well explained in the text, the sidebars, and the graphs and tables. Use the
questions at the end of each chapter to gauge you level of understanding and if needed,
go back and review the relevant sections again.
One of the very challenging aspects of astronomy is the scale upon which we will be
working as well as the time frame. The size ranges from nanometers to distances that are
so large that only they are measured in something termed mega-parsecs. The time scale
is staggering as well; we will go back to the beginning of the universe at about 12 billion
years ago and discuss events during that time.
We have only ten weeks to cover an enormous amount of material, distance, ideas, and
time. Are you ready?
Course Goals and Objectives
After completing this course, you should be able to:
explain the scientific method, why it is so successful, and how it has been used in
discuss the differences between science and pseudoscience and how to distinguish
one from the other
explain why the naked-eye astronomical objects (sun, moon, nearby planets and
stars) appear to move the way we see them move
discuss the basic properties of the main types of astronomical bodies, including
planets, stars, and galaxies
describe the range of distances and time scales that apply to various astronomical
objects and phenomena
cite the evidence that supports our understanding of celestial objects and
processes, such as black holes, generations of stars, and the Big Bang
provide an overview of the astronomical, physical, chemical, and biological
events that made it possible for life to exist on earth today
discuss the impact of scientific discovery on individuals and social systems
perform quantitative reasoning and present and interpret quantitative scientific
For this course you should have internet connection, a textbook, scientific calculator, and
access to various DVD’s that pertain to the subject of astronomy.
For important information about ordering textbooks, please see the Administrative
Policies, Procedures, and Practices section at the end of this syllabus.
A scientific calculator is needed to perform the different types of quantitative problems in
astronomy. To determine if a calculator is scientific look for a Xy function.
Access to DVD’s such as the History Channel’s UNIVERSE, Discovery Channel or other
producers is encouraged. These will provide a visual representation of the ideas and
many students find this method a good way to reinforce ideas and concepts.
Grades in this course will be based upon a comprehensive proctored exam, quizzes,
conference participation and two projects. The breakdown is as follows:
Final Proctored Exam 40%
Conference Participation 15%
Moon Project 20%
For important information about proctored exams, please see the Administrative Policies,
Procedures, and Practices section at the end of this syllabus.
Two quizzes will be given and each will be worth 12.5%. Quiz content will cover
material from the book prior to the quiz and will be similar to the proctored exam.
Quizzes are open book but not regurgitation from the book. You will actually need to
understand the material.
Conferences are set up weekly and topics may range from problems in the book to
night observations, to information from the news. Scores for conference responses are
based upon the quality of the answer, coherence of thought, and understanding of the
concept not the length of your response.
Failure to contribute to the conference will result in a score of 0 for that week.
Four or more weeks of non-participation will earn the grade of F.
Conference responses are the last day of the week (Sunday) in Japan.
This project will consist in determining the origin of the moon. Currently there
are four theories to account for the moon but one is at present the accepted theory. You
will read the different theories and explain the strong and weak points of each idea. Then
you will choose one that you feel is the best fit and then write short paper detailing and
supports your ideas. This project will be due by the end of week 8.
Course Schedule Additional Information
Week Session Dates Readings, Assignments, and Due Dates
1 JUN 13 ~ JUN 19 Introduction and the Night Sky
Readings: Horizons, Ch 1-3; Conference and Questions for
Week One due 19 June
2 JUN 20 ~ JUN 26 History of Astronomy and Telescopes
Readings: Horizons, Ch 4 & 5
21 June last day for 75% refund
Conference and Questions for Week Two due 26 June
3 JUN 27 ~ JUL 3 Information from Distant Objects
Readings: Horizons, Ch 6
June 30 Last day for 50% Tuition refund
Conference and Questions for Week Three due 3 Jul
4 JUL 4 ~ JUL 10 The Sun & Stars
Readings: Horizons, Ch 7 & 8
5 JUL 11 ~ JUL 17 The Life Cycle of Stars
Readings: Horizons, Ch 9, 10, 11
Conference and Questions for Week 5 due on 17 July
6 JUL 18 ~ JUL 24 The Milky Way
Readings: Horizons, Ch 12
Conference and Questions for Week 6 due 24 July
7 JUL 25 ~ JUL 31 Galaxies & Cosmology
Readings: Horizons, Ch 13, 14, 15
8 AUG 1 ~ AUG 7 Terrestrial Planets -- Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars
Readings: Horizons, Ch 16 - 17
Conference and Questions for Week 8 Due 7 August
MAKE RESERVATION FOR PROCTORED EXAM
9 AUG 8 ~ AUG 14 Giant Planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune
Readings: Horizons, Ch 18 & 19
MAKE RESERVATION FOR PROCTORED EXAM
14 Aug MOON PROJECT DUE
12 Aug DEADLINE FOR OFFICIAL STUDENT
Conference and Questions for Week 9 Due 14 Aug
10 AUG 15 ~ AUG 21 FINAL EXAM WEEK
The following is not written by your professor but accompanies your
academic syllabus for this course
UMUC Asia DE Administrative
Procedures and Practices
Ordering Course Materials:
Textbooks can be ordered online at the Asia DE Web site, http://webtext.asia.umuc.edu/. Books ordered from any
other source will be at the student's own risk. UMUC Asia cannot be responsible for problems encountered when
textbooks are ordered from sources outside of the Asia DE Web site.
Asia DE 10 week courses require all students to take a proctored exam at the end of the term. Students who do not
take the proctored exam will receive a failing grade for the course. All students are expected to make their
reservations during Weeks 8 and 9 of the session.
Asia based students should make their proctored exam reservation through the Asia DE online "Proctored
Exam Reservation" system (http://de.asia.umuc.edu/proctor/index.cfm), or through their local UMUC Asia
Europe based students must make their reservations through their local UMUC Europe Field Rep Office or
Students unable to test at either UMUC Asia or Europe facilities need to arrange for an alternate proctor.
For details go to http://de.asia.umuc.edu/proctor/index1.cfm, and submit the Alternate Proctor Request
Students who need to test outside of Proctored Exam week should review the information about early/late
testing at http://de.asia.umuc.edu/proctor/early_procedures.cfm, and follow the procedures outlined
Computer-Based Proctored Exams are a popular option for students testing at designated UMUC Computer Labs (only
available during the scheduled Proctored Exam Week). Ask your local UMUC Asia/Europe Field Reps or Computer Lab
Staff if their location is participating. Students at other locations or using an alternate proctor must take paper exams.
Important reminder: Keep your professor informed of your testing status. Occasionally exams (particularly paper
exams) take time to reach the professor or there are problems with exams being delivered. Therefore, when
Proctored Exam week arrives many professors will create a special "Proctored Exam Reporting" conference in the
WebTycho classroom where you can report "when", "where" and "how" you took the exam (by paper or computer). If
you do not report that you have taken your exam and it has not arrived by the end of the term, the instructor will give
you a failing grade for the course.
Summer 2011 Session 1 (10 Week Course Calendar)
Registration Dates: 11 Apr 2011 ~ 13 Jun 2011
Session Dates: 13 Jun 2011 ~ 21 Aug 2011
WEEK DATES ACTIVITY
1 JUN 13 ~ JUN 19 Normal Course Instruction Begins
2 JUN 20 ~ JUN 26 JUN 21 Last Day for 75% Tuition Refund
3 JUN 27 ~ JUL 3 JUN 30 Last Day for 50% Tuition Refund
4 JUL 4 ~ JUL 10 Normal Course Instruction
5 JUL 11 ~ JUL 17 Normal Course Instruction
6 JUL 18 ~ JUL 24 Normal Course Instruction
7 JUL 25 ~ JUL 31 Normal Course Instruction
8 AUG 1 ~ AUG 7 Make Reservation for Proctored Exam
9 AUG 8 ~ AUG 14 AUG 12 Last Date to Officially Withdraw;
Make Reservation for Proctored Exam
10 AUG 15 ~ AUG 21 Proctored Exam Week
For administrative assistance contact: email@example.com
For GoArmyEd issues contact: GoArmyEd@asia.umuc.edu
For WebTycho assistance on workdays contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For WebTycho assistance on Saturdays and Sundays: http://support.umuc.edu/
For proctored exam information, please visit the Asia DE Website at http://de.asia.umuc.edu and click on
For proctored exam assistance contact: email@example.com
For textbook assistance: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For MyUMUC help visit UMUC 360 Helpdesk - http://support.umuc.edu/
Support for UMUC Asia students is also available by phone at 225-3696 (DSN) or 81-42-552-2510 Ext. 5-
3696 (international comm.), Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (JST).
Ask your professor about his/her plagiarism policies. Here is some
further guidance on how to avoid plagiarism:
UMUC's Effective Writing Program "Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism"
UMUC's Online Writing Center "How to Avoid Plagiarism"
The University has a license agreement with Turnitin, a service that helps prevent plagiarism from Internet resources.
The professor may be using this service in this class by either requiring students to submit their papers electronically
to Turnitin or by submitting questionable text on behalf of a student. If you or the professor submit part or all of your
paper, it will be stored by Turnitin in its database throughout the term of the University's contract with Turnitin. If you
object to this temporary storage of your paper, you must let the professor know no later than two weeks after the
start of this class. Please Note: If you object to the storage of your paper on Turnitin, the professor may utilize other
services to check your work for plagiarism.
Students With Disabilities:
Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have disabilities and are enrolled in any program offered
at UMUC. For more information, students should contact the Director, Student Affairs or e-mail
Academic Policies are not course specific and are therefore created and housed separately from this document. You
may access and print Academic Policies from the Syllabus sub-menu in your WebTycho classroom or by going to these
links http://de.asia.umuc.edu/policies/ or http://www.umuc.edu/policy/category.shtml.
UMUC Asia DE syllabi are tentative and subject to change, if necessary. Changes will be announced with as much
notice as possible.