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Astronomy 1001

Exploring the Universe (AST1001) Section 004

Descriptive Astronomy (AST1005) Section 001
Session: Spring 2009
Date and time: 7:15 PM to 8:30 PM Monday and Wednesday

1/21/09 to 5/11/09
Location: Tate Lab of Physics, Room 166
Credits: 4 cr. for Ast1001; 3cr. for Ast1005

Instructor: Dr. Crystal Austin
Tate 369
Office Hours:
Monday and Wednesday, 5:45 pm to 6:45 pm

All TAs also hold office hours in Physics 451.  Hours are posted on the website and lab room doors.

My page:


Please read the entire syllabus carefully; you are responsible for all of the requirements and procedures described here. You are also responsible for all announcements, assignments, changes, etc., whether or not you are in class.
Required material:
The Cosmic Perspective by Bennet, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit.  4th ed.
Ast1001 lab manual (Ast1001 students only)
Course description:
This course is designed to be an introduction to Astronomy for non-science majors. By the end of the session, students will understand general science practices and the current scientific view of the Universe, have learned critical thinking skills, and have acquired a new appreciation for the modern scientific method. We will be covering essentially the entire Universe in 15 weeks. This means that the course will be very fast-paced, and requires that you commit 1-2 hrs minimum preparing for each class.

What to bring to class (and what not to bring)
We will be doing the occasional in-class activity, so you should always bring paper, a writing utensil, and your textbook to class. I believe that it is disrespectful to me and other students to use your laptop, have your cell phone ring, do crossword puzzles, or to eat during class.  Please refrain from these activities.
Exams will cover material discussed in lecture, in the readings, and in the labs.
- Mid-Term 1:     February 23rd,     7:15 pm to 8:30 pm.         Room: TBA
- Mid-Term 2:     April 8th,     7:15 pm to 8:30pm.    Room: TBA
- Final Exam:      May 11th,     6:30 pm-8:30 pm.      Room: TBA

Bring two pencils and a photo-ID to all exams! Exams will consist of multiple choice questions and short answer questions. You are allowed to bring one 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of notes (one side) to the mid-terms. For the final exam, you can use both sides of an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of notes.

During the exam, you are not allowed to wear caps or hats, listen to headphones, use cell phones or other digital devices. You are not allowed to communicate with anyone other than the instructor or proctor. You cannot use a calculator (there will not be calculations on the exam).

The on-line quizzes provided with your textbook have proven to be a very effective way to prepare for the exams. The on-line quizzes look very familiar to your exams and provide immediate feedback regarding how well you are prepared to take an exam. You can access these online quizzes by logging in to and using the access code in the cardboard insert provided with your text.
Labs and moon project (Ast1001 only)
You are required to attend labs. See your TA for a Lab syllabus. Lab topics will not always directly follow the lecture topics. See your Lab syllabus for details and due dates.

The Moon project requires you to make regular observations of the position and phase of the Moon. Using these observations, you will calculate the period of the Moon's orbit and predict the Moon’s phase for a given date. This presents you with the opportunity to make first-hand observations in a manner similar to that used by early celestial observers.

The point ranges for each letter grade may be slightly adjusted at the end of the course. Based on experience, grading will be assigned approximately as follows:
89% to 100% = A- and A
77% to 88%   = B-, B, and B+
65% to 76%   = C-, C, and C+
55% to 64%   = D and D+
0%   to 54%   = F
You must receive a C- or better to receive a grade of S.

NOTE! In order to receive a passing grade in AST 1001, you must receive at least 50% of the total available lab points (120/240) AND at least 50% of the total available Moon project points (70/140). You must also take all three exams.

NOTE! In order to receive a passing grade in AST 1005, you must take all three exams.

The TAs will grade each lab section’s work.  At the end of the term, the different lab sections are calibrated to each other.  This way, you do not have to worry about being in a section that is graded harsher.

Keep copies of all materials upon which you are graded (laboratory reports, observational project assignments, and examinations) until the end of the semester.  After the first two or three weeks of the semester, grade summaries will be posted weekly at  Students are expected to review their grade summaries for accuracy periodically during the semester and after the final examination. 

Labs (12 @ 20 points)
Moon Project
Mid-terms (2 @ 125 points)

NOTE! In order to receive a passing grade in AST 1001, you must receive at least 50% of the total available lab points (120/240) AND at least 50% of the total available Moon project points (70/140). You must also take all three exams.

NOTE! In order to receive a passing grade in AST 1005, you must take all three exams.

Special Needs
Students with special needs or disabilities should contact both the professor and the University of Minnesota Disabilities Services department.

Academic Standards
Students are expected to follow the CLA and IT scholastic conduct and classroom procedures as described in the Regent's Policy. It is the student's responsibility to be familiar with these policies.
Students are welcome to work together, exchange ideas, etc. However, EACH STUDENT MUST MAKE HIS/HER OWN MEASUREMENTS AND OWN CALCULATIONS. Copying someone else's measurements or calculations, copying observational data or calculations from an online source, or making up fictitious observational data is equivalent to cheating and will be handled accordingly.   Tell A Friend