The dates below represent the approximate start of each topic and reading assignment. You should have done all the reading for a given topic before the start of the next one. All dates are tentative, except for the final exam. Assignments are given in brackets; numbers refer to chapters in The Cosmic Perspective by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit (6th edition, 2010). There will be a special (outside of regular class-time) review session covering topics requested by the class before each exam (not listed).

Detailed reading assignments and notes for each lecture are given on the 23 Study Guides.

1/13: First class meeting: Orientation
1/15: Introduction. Astronomy as a science. Scale of the universe in space and time. The night sky. Prehistoric astronomy. [CH 1, 2, 3.1; Supplement I]
1/20: MLK Holiday: no class

2/5: Discovery of the Solar System. Early scientific astronomy. Copernicus to Newton. Gravity and planetary orbits. [CH 3, 4]

2/17: Tools for Modern Astronomy. Modern science, technology, & society. The nature of light. The electromagnetic spectrum. Atomic structure. Spectroscopy. Telescopes. The space program and space astronomy. [Supplements II, III; Optional: CH 5, 6]

FIRST MIDTERM EXAM: Wednesday, 19 February
Coverage: Introduction through EM spectrum.

2/26: Planetary Systems: ours and others Inventory & systematics of the solar system. Formation of the solar system. Discovery of other planetary systems. Properties of exoplanets. [CH 7, 8, 13]

3/3: Earth and Moon. Earth as a planet. Earth's age, composition, interior. The Apollo missions. The lunar surface. The violent formation and early history of the Moon. [CH 9, 10]

[Spring Break: 10 - 14 March]

3/19: The Terrestrial Planets. Mercury, Venus, Mars. Evolution of terrestrial atmospheres. The MESSENGER, Magellan, Viking, Pathfinder, Rover, & Curiosity missions. [CH 9, 10]

SECOND MIDTERM EXAM: Wednesday, 2 April
Coverage: spectroscopy through Mars.

4/7:Lowell's Legacy: ET's. Life on Mars? "War of the Worlds". UFO's. [War of the Worlds]

Deadline for extra credit assignments with full credit: Friday, 11 April

4/14: The Outer Planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Satellites. The Voyager, Galileo, & Cassini missions. Kuiper Belt Objects. [CH 11, 12.3]

4/21: Interplanetary Matter. Asteroids, comets, meteors. Collisions with Earth and biological extinctions. [CH 12]

Deadline for all extra credit assignments: Friday, 25 April, 5 PM

4/28: Life in the Universe. Evolution of life on Earth. Other biospheres in the solar system? In the galaxy? Search for alien civilizations. [CH 13, 24]

Last Constellation Quiz: Tuesday, 29 April

FINAL EXAM: Saturday, 3 May, 2 - 4 PM


For more details, see the Sky and Telescope ``This Week's Sky'' Web Page

Sky looking south at 8 PM on 20 February 2014; from Heavens Above.

Last modified January 2015 by rwo

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