INTRODUCTORY ASTRONOMY AY-101 Section 001 Fall 2009

COURSE: MWF 9:00-9:50am, Room 227, Gallalee Hall

INSTRUCTOR: Prof. R. Buta, 306 Gallalee Hall, 348-3792

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday 9-11:30am. If I can't be in my office for part of this time, I will leave a note indicating where I can be located or when I will return. If these hours are inconvenient, send me an email and we can set up a different meeting time.

TEXTBOOK (Required): PERSPECTIVES ON ASTRONOMY (1st edition) by M. A. Seeds and D. E. Backman; should be available now at UA Supply Store, Ferguson Center

COURSE GOALS AND DESCRIPTION: My goals with this course are to share with you all the excitement of modern astronomy, and hopefully to leave you with a lifelong interest in astronomy. No knowledge of astronomy is needed as a prerequisite. This is a survey course, so there will not be many details. The course will also be mostly descriptive, with no mathematics for most topics, and a minimal amount for some topics. We are living in a golden age of astronomy where new discoveries are constantly being made. The course will describe how our view of the universe has changed over time and cover new discoveries as they occur.

1) Students will be able to identify key concepts in the arts, sciences, and humanities to provide a broad perspective on the human condition.
2) Students will be able to recognize and explain the scientific method, and evaluate scientific information.
3) Students will be able to characterize the appearance and motion of celestial objects.
4) Students will be able to identify the key conceptual advances (and associated figures) in the history of astronomy.
5) Students will understand the relationship between light, matter, and energy in an astronomical context.
6) Students will learn how telescopes function to collect data on celestial objects and how the atmosphere affects the way we see the Universe.
7) Students will understand the content, formation and evolution of planetary systems.
8) Students will understand the nature and evolution of stars.
9) Students will understand the nature and evolution of galaxies.
10) Students will understand the nature and evolution of the Universe.
11) Students will understand how the concepts of living organisms on Earth might be applied to life on other worlds.

CLASS PROCEDURE: Astronomy 101 is a visually exciting class that will involve a lot of photographs and displays. It will be a lecture class using the Internet, power point, and other teaching methods. In-class demonstrations will supplement some of the lectures.

CLASS ATTENDANCE: Attendance is important and will be regularly checked. I strongly encourage regular attendance - it is the only way to keep up with the class and also the only way to take advantage of the in-class demonstrations. It is also the only way to get extra credit for in-class participation.

AY102 REQUIREMENT: Note that you must also take AY 102 (lab) either concurrently or in a later semester in order to obtain full non-science core credit with AY101.

DROPS - The deadline concerning dropping a course is as follows:
August 26 - ``Last day to drop a class without a grade of W''
October 28 - ``Last day to drop a class with a grade of W''

HOMEWORK: Each class will involve an assigned reading in the textbook. The chapter schedule is given below, indicating which chapter we are in on any given class date. For each chapter I will post a study guide (under "Course Content" on the eLearning website) with the important concepts you should know about. I expect to cover all of these concepts in class. Please take advantage of this as there will not necessarily be a review session for every exam.

CLICKERS (Required): The principal way to get extra credit in the class is in-class participation with clickers. These are available from the SUPeStore, and can be purchased for a one-time fee of $52. There will be a number of clicker questions used for most classes. I plan to start using clickers in the class about a week after classes begin. If you have already purchased a clicker for another class, the same clicker can be used for this class.

SUPeStore NOTES (optional): The SUPe Store is making available copies of the power point slides I will use for my lectures. These are OPTIONAL but I recommend them since they can facilitate note-taking.

TEGRITY RECORDING: Each class will be recorded using the Tegrity system and will be made available to the class through eLearning. If you have to miss a class, you can get the information through the recording, but not the in-class questions and extra credit that can come with them.

CLASS WEB SITE: The class website will be on eLearning, which you can access through, which only requires your bama login and password. This website will be used to post information relevant to the class, such as the course syllabus, exam date reminders, study information, etc.

EXAMS: These will be of the MULTIPLE CHOICE variety, machine graded only. There will be three of these exams during the semester in addition to the final exam. The chapters to be covered in each exam are given below. Each exam will involve 50 questions.

Schedule of exams:
Exam No. 1: Wednesday, September 16 covering chapters 1-4
Exam No. 2: Wednesday, October 21 covering chapters 5-8
Exam No. 3: Wednesday, November 11 covering chapters 9-11
Final exam: Wednesday, Dec. 10 covering chapters 12-15 (part I) + comprehensive (part II)

The final exam will have two parts: a part that will cover everything since Exam No. 3 (Part I), and a comprehensive part that will cover everything up to and including Exam No. 3 (Part II).

In-class participation: The most important type of extra credit is from in-class participation through clicker questions. If you want this type of extra credit, then you must purchase a clicker or have one that you can use. Clicker questions will generally be on the reading or the previous class, and will be several questions per class. Clicker credit is not just attendance credit. You have to answer clicker questions correctly to get extra credit. Clicker credit will be from 0 to 7 points ADDED TO YOUR FINAL GRADE. This means that, for example, if your final average based on the five exams above is 79% (C+), and you have done well enough on the clicker questions to get 70% of the questions correct, then your final grade would be 79% + 0.7*7 = 83.9% (B). It is the only type of extra credit that will be added to the final grade.

Observing/Public Night Sessions: The second type of extra credit is for observing/public night sessions with the department 16 and 20-inch telescopes. These sessions will amount to a maximum of 3 points ADDED TO THE EXAM SCORE (1,2,3, or FINAL EXAM, PART I) THAT MOST CLOSELY FOLLOWS THE SESSION. Most observing sessions will take place on campus, while one or two will take place at Moundville Archaeological Park (right). Some on-campus observing sessions will be regularly scheduled department public nights, and these will occasionally have a public lecture beforehand. To get full extra credit for any observing session, you must, in addition to a sign-up sheet, submit a no more than one page double-spaced summary of what we observed and/or what the public lecture was about.
Pre-test: In order to gauge outcomes assessment, a pre-test will be administered the first day of class. This will consist of 30 multiple choice questions. So that you get some credit for taking this exam, I will add from 0 to 3 points extra credit to your FINAL EXAM, PART II score, depending on your pre-test score.

POLICY FOR MISSED EXAMS: It is expected that each student will take all regular in-class exams, including Parts I and II of the final exam. If you know you will miss a major exam in advance, please let me know and you may take the test early. However, if something unexpected comes up, such as illness or a death in the family, you must inform me within TWO school days after the test has been given, in order to be allowed to take a make-up that will ordinarily be given either later that day or the next day. The simplest thing you can do is send me an e-mail message to, or you can phone me at the number above. If I am not available, leave a message in my voicemail. Provide your name, student number, and a brief reason for missing the exam. Bring a doctor's excuse if relevant. Note that it is your responsibility to set up a time for the makeup quickly.

GRADING: Your final NUMERICAL grade will be determined from the average of the five scores on the first, second, third, final part I, and final part II exams. NO EXAM SCORES WILL BE DROPPED! Extra credit will be added in as described above.

I will be using the University's standard PLUS/MINUS scale. You must achieve an average (including all extra credit) of at least 60% to receive a passing grade in this course.

NOTE WELL: Major exams missed WITHOUT explanation will be assigned zeros.

POSTING OF EXAM GRADES: All exam scores will be posted through on the Testing Service webpage. To access this page, click on Academics and scroll down the left side until you see Testing Services. Such grades will NOT include extra credit, so if you want to know how that might be impacting your grade, you will have to email me for the information.

STATEMENT ON ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT: All acts of dishonesty in any academic work constitute academic misconduct. Academic misconduct will be dealt with according to the procedure given in the Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy.


1. Aug. 19 Introduction
2. Aug. 21 Chapter 1
3. Aug. 24 Chapter 2
4. Aug. 26 Chapter 2
5. Aug. 28 Chapter 2
6. Aug. 31 Chapter 3
7. Sep. 2 Chapter 3
8. Sep. 4 Chapter 3
Sep. 7 **** Labor Day Holiday - NO CLASS ****
9. Sep. 9 Chapter 4
10. Sep. 11 Chapter 4
11. Sep. 14 Chapter 4
12. Sep. 16 **** Exam No. 1 Chaps. 1-4 ****
13 Sep. 18 Chapter 5
14. Sep. 21 Chapter 5
15. Sep. 23 Chapter 5
16. Sep. 25 Chapter 6
17. Sep. 28 Chapter 6
18. Sep. 30 Chapter 6
19. Oct. 2 Chapter 7
20. Oct. 5 Chapter 7
21. Oct. 7 Chapter 7
22. Oct. 12 Chapter 8
23. Oct. 14 Chapter 8
24. Oct. 16 Chapter 8
25. Oct. 19 Chapter 9
26. Oct. 21 **** Exam No. 2 Chaps. 5-8 ****
27. Oct. 23 Chapter 9
28. Oct. 26 Chapter 9
29. Oct. 28 Chapter 10

30. Oct. 30 Chapter 10
31. Nov. 2 Chapter 10
32. Nov. 4 Chapter 11
33. Nov. 6 Chapter 11
34. Nov. 9 Chapter 11
35. Nov. 11 **** Exam No. 3 Chaps. 9-11****
36. Nov. 13 Chapter 12
37. Nov. 16 Chapter 12
38. Nov. 18 Chapter 13
39. Nov. 20 Chapter 13
40. Nov. 23 Chapter 14
Nov. 25 **** Thanksgiving Holiday - NO CLASS ****
Nov. 27 **** Thanksgiving Holiday - NO CLASS ****
41. Nov. 30 Chapter 14
42. Dec. 2 Chapter 15 ***ALIEN DAY (see below)*** --------------------------->>>>
43. Dec. 4 In-class review for final exam
Dec. 10 *** Final Exam (Part I: Chaps. 12-15; Part II: Comprehensive)*** Room 227 Gallalee Hall, 8:00am-10:30am

"Alien Day" is the special class where we discuss the search for extraterrestrial life.