AST 101: Introduction to Astronomy
Updated 26 January 2013
Ten percent of your total grade will come from participation in class.
I will try to engage you in discussion as part of this course.
Astronomy touches some controversial issues.
I have identified seven such issues, and we will discuss them on 7 Fridays.
The topics are
I hope to engender some lively discussion of these points.
That requires that you be willing to offer opinions.
Everyone is expected to participate in these discussions.
- Does astrology work? (Feb 15)
- Is there a conflict between science and religion? (Feb 22)
- Is global warming real, is it a threat, and who's to blame? (Mar 11)
- Is there a future for life on Earth? (Mar 29)
- Is there a role for Man in space? (Apr 12)
- Are UFOs evidence for visitations by extraterrestrials? (Apr 26)
- Was the universe made, or did it just happen? (May 3)
For up to 2 points, you must:
You may do this four times, for a maximum of
8 points (there is one
exception to this limit - see here).
- Take a stand. Write a 1 page position paper explaining your position, and
email it to me before noon on the Thursday before the discussion.
Guidelines for the position papers are
- Be prepared to support your position in class.
Your grade will not depend on your position, but on how well you can support
- If you attend an Astronomy
Open Night, you can earn up to 2 points by writing
a report on what you learned. The report should be less than one page
in length, and can be e-mailed to me. Reports should arrive within one
week of the Open Night.
You can do this for each of the open nights, for up to
- You can earn up to 2 points by attending an observing session and writing
a report on what you observed. Take notes, and describe what you saw.
You must report on at least two objects.
Please e-mail the report to me.
Reports should arrive within one week of the observing session.
You may do this twice, for 4 points maximum.
If you do it twice, please report on something different the second time.
- You may suggest questions for the midterms and final. You must provide an
answer along with your question (and the answer must be correct). You
may suggest one question for each test. You will receive up to 1 point
per correctly-answered question, up to a maximum of
3 points total.
Please e-mail me the questions at least 2 days prior to the midterms,
and before May 13 for the Final.
Note that if you do everything, you could in principle tally 24 points.
Only the first 10 will be counted. Do not beg for extra credit - it will not be