Astronomy 2010: Descriptive Astronomy

MW 5:30-7:20 150 General Lectures

This is a four credit course which can be taken concurrently with the one credit lab, Astronomy 2011. Survey of astronomy. Students will be able to demonstrate conceptual understanding of the methods of science, the sky, the earth-moon-sun system, the motion of the planets, gravity, light, telescopes, the solar system, the planet earth, the moon, the inner planets, the gas giants, minor bodies of the solar system, the sun, stars, stellar evolution, evolved and dead stars, the Milky Way, galaxies, cosmology, and astrobiology.

The plan is to spend about two thirds of the class giving a standard lecture and the other third of the class in a discussion of the key points of daily material. These will almost alwyas be variants of the Review Questions that are given at the end of each chapter. These Review Questions are also the basis of what appears on the exams.

Withdrawal Deadline: This semester it is Sunday 9 November.

Students with Disabilities: If you have a documented disability that requires accommodations, you will need to register with Student Disability Services for coordination of your academic accommodations. The Student Disability Services (SDS) office is located at 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library in the Student Academic Success Services department. SDS telephone number is 313-577-1851 or 313-577-3365 (TTY: telecommunication device for the deaf; phone for hearing impaired students only). Once you have your accommodations in place, I will be glad to meet with you privately during my office hours to discuss your special needs. Student Disability Services’ mission is to assist the university in creating an accessible community where students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to fully participate in their educational experience at Wayne State University.

I do not intend to make paper copies of this syllabus available. Please print it for yourself or reference the electronic copy.

Professor: David Cinabro(333 Physics, 313-577-2918,,
Office Hours: 4:30-5:30 MW or by appointment
Texts: Foundations of Astronomy, 12th and Special Edition for Wayne State by Seeds, Backman and Pruneau. ISBN: 9781285889276. Available in the bookstore.
Three in class, short answer, exams. The best two scores of the three will be used for the final score. Note that these take awhile to grade. Please be patient. There are no make-up exams; please do not ask.
Monday 15 December 5:30-8:00. PLEASE NOTE THE SPECIAL DATE. THE FINAL CANNOT BE DROPPED even if you took all three of the in class exams. Please do not ask about taking the final at some other time. Short answer format. Half will be on the material since the last exam and the other half will be on all the previous material.
i>clicker quizes

Extra credit will be given for in class quizzes using the i>clicker system. In general there will be 2-4 questions asked during the course of the in class lectures with students responses recorded with the i>clicker system. For each class students earn one point for attendance and two for answering the majority of the questions correctly These points are not simply additions to the total, but reduce the weight of the other requirements. For example if 50 points were earned in i>clicker quizzes then the contributions would be i>clicker quizzes 50%, Exams 33%, and Final 17%.

The i>clicker2 has been adopted campus wide and is being used for many classes at Wayne State. You can purchase or rent one at the Wayne State Bookstore or elsewhere. Unfortunately the i>clicker app for smart phones is not supported, the wifi network is not reliable enough for many simultaneous users in a single class, and you need to obtain the dedicated i>clicker device. Once you have the i>clicker you have to register it for this class. Find the link to do so on Blackboard in Tools. You will not get extra credit for the in class quizzes unless you do this.

Wayne State Planetarium Shows
Two shows will be offered during the course of the semester for viewing by Astronomy 2010 students. They are over a two week period. Attendance at a show, you can only see each of the two shows once, is worth 4 Extra Credit points. These are a great way to get extra credit, and are highly recommended. Sign up will be off the Wayne State Planetarium Home Page and follow the WSU Students link. Dates and times will be announced later.
Grade Scale
Usually 100-90% = A, 90-80% = B, etc. It is difficult to write exams that do not have unforeseen problems. Often a "curve" is needed to correct for these problems. I usually include a total course score and a projected grade when each exam is handed back, so that students should have a very good idea of how they are doing in the course.

While this is not a particularly difficult class, there is a large amount of material. Get the text, read it before class, go to class, do well on the i>clicker quizzes, take notes, listen to and participate in the discussion. This is the opportunity to ask about things that are either interesting or not clear to you. Do so. Often. To make things easier, I do post the lectures in blackboard after I give them in class. They can be found in the "Content" link on the class blackboard page. These are valuable for going over your notes. Do not ignore the class until just before exams. Spending some time on it regularly is the best way to stay on top of the material.

Often I go too fast in lecture. Do not hesitate to ask me to go over something again, slow down, or simply to leave a slide up for you write something down. We have plenty of time in class; the lectures usually last about one hour if I do them at my comfortable pace and there is 15-30 minutes of discussion at the end.

With the large amount of material I can either ask more questions that cover everything, or fewer that do not cover everything. I choose the latter, but try to give you clues about what will appear on the exams in the "Questions for Discussion" and the "Reviews" given before the exams. Go over your notes and get plenty of rest before the exams.

PLEASE NOTE THE SPECIAL DATE OF THE FINAL. The final is a pain. Prepare extra for that. I do some things to make it easier.

Taking the in class quizzes seriously is a good way to ensure that you will get a good grade. There is a very high correlation between those who show up to class every day and those who do well on the exams. Thus not only do students get in class extra credit, but also seem to learn the material that appears on the exams by reading the material before class and paying attention to the presentation and discussion in class. At some level, this should be obvious.

Day by Day in Class

Date Topic Text Sections
27 Aug Introduction 1.1-1.3
2 Sep Labor Day: No Class -
3 Sep The Sky I 2.1-2.6
8 Sep The Sky II 2.7-2.11
10 Sep Birth of Modern Astronomy 3.1-3.6
15 Sep Sky Cycles 4.1-4.6
17 Sep Gravity and Review 5.1-5.3
22 Sep Exam 1 1.1-5.3
24 Sep Light and Telescopes I 6.1-6.3
29 Sep Light and Telescopes II 6.3-6.6
1 Oct Atoms and Spectra 7.1-7.3
6 Oct The Sun 8.1-8.3
8 Oct The Family of Stars I 9.1-9.3
13 Oct The Family of Stars II and Review 9.4-9.6
15 Oct Exam 2 6.1-9.6
20 Oct Interstellar Medium and Star Formation 10.1-11.3
22 Oct Star Structure and Evolution 11.4-12.4
27 Oct Star Death and Compact Objects 13.1-14.3
29 Oct The Milky Way 15.1-15.5
3 Nov Galaxies 16.1-16.3
5 Nov Active Galaxies 17.1-17.2
10 Nov Cosmology and Review 18.1-18.4
12 Nov Exam 3 10.1-18.4
17 Nov Origin of the Solar System 19.1-19.4
19 Nov The Earth as a Planet 20.1-20.4
24 Nov The Moon and Terrestrial Planets 21.1-22.3
26 Nov Thanksgiving Break: No Class -
1 Dec The Gas Giants and Beyond 23.1-24.5
3 Dec Minor Bodies of the Solar System 25.1-25.4
8 Dec Extraterrestrial Life and Review 26.1-26.3
15 Dec Final 1.1-26.3

Last modified: Fri Aug 26 17:31:59 EDT 2005