Astronomy Spring 2010

0.5 credits/semester
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Course Overview Documents
Course Home Page with on-line versions of assignments.
Personal Introduction Essay (doc)

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Course Overview

In this course you will learn about some of the important topics in astronomy. We will learn about the night sky, the motions of the earth, moon, sun and planets, and how to be an amateur astronomer.

What to Bring to Class

  1. binder
  2. pencil or pen
  1. planisphere
  2. observation notebook


The grading policy of Astronomy is designed to reflect how much work you put into learning. If you put in the effort to learn the material you will do well. Your grade will be based on the following categories.

Make-up Work

If you miss class, and it is an excused absence, then you may make up the work you missed. You must see me before class starts or after it has ended and ask for the work. It is your responsibility to find out what you missed and to do it within one week.

Late Work

Lateness is not acceptable unless you were absent and have shown me proper documentation to prove your absence was excused. Arrangements to hand in work missed when absent must be made at the first class meeting upon your return. Late work is subject to a penalty of 25 points on a 100 point assignment. Late work will be accepted only within two days of the original due date. After that it will not be accepted. Incomplete work handed in on time will not be eligible for do-overs. Incomplete work handed in late will not be accepted.

Resources for Extra Help

I am available before and after school most days to provide help with your work. I arrive around 7 am and will usually be here until at least 2:30 pm.

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First Quarter

Stars and the Night Sky Basics

Watched “Powers of Ten” video. This is a classic in the world of science videos and gives an overview of the entire universe seen at different distance scales.
Write a brief reaction paper to describe what you learned from this video. What was the take-home message?

Due this week: your own Personal Introduction Essay

This week we also build a homemade planisphere for use in predicting the constellations that are visible in the night sky. A list of constellations will be provided as well.

Next we will begin to learn to use the Planisphere and equivalent tools on the internet.
The following activities require information in the The Edmund Sky Guide by Terence Dickinson and Sam Brown, which was handed out in class.
Questions about Sky Motion: An assignment to read a packet and use your planisphere to answer some questions.
Questions about the Stars: a continuation of the set of questions begun last week about the Edmund Sky Guide. These questions concern a bit more about the motions of the sky and a little about the stars.

Questions about the Stars 2: covering stellar magnitudes and spectral types

We will have a quiz over the previous material before moving on to another topic.

We will spend one or two days in the computer lab Exploring Astronomy Online

Before moving on we will take some time to learn to use the Sky View Café:
Web Assignment: Sky View Café: we will spend time in the computer lab to work on this. The assignment uses an amazing online tool called the Sky View Café, which allows you to see what’s in the sky at any time from the remote past to the distant future from any place on Earth.
The above assignment is aided by a general reference sheet on the constellations available here.

Latitude, Longitude and the Seasons

Activity: Latitude and Longitude: This serves as an introduction to the Seasons topic. Getting familiar with how locations on the globe are specified and with some important lines of latitude will make understanding the seasons lessons easier.

Introduction to the Seasons: an activity with a few questions to introduce students to some of the key issues in understanding the cause of the seasons and the apparent motions of the Sun.

After the above in-class activities we will begin working on the materials about the seasons found at the Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project site titled Basic Coordinates and Seasons Module. Download and work through the Basic Coordinates and Seasons Student Guide if working at home. The material covers the basics of latitude and longitude, right acension and declination and the basics of why we have seasons on Earth.

This week we will wrap up our work on the seasons with the following activity:
Questions: Motions of the Sun
We will have a quiz on the seasons when we have completed all of this work.

Exploring Astronomy Online: Visit some great sites and learn what the Internet has to offer when it comes to learning about Astronomy!

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Second Quarter

Phases of the Moon

We begin our study of the phases of the Moon with this activity:
Phases of the Moon

We continue our study of the Moon in class with this activity:
Moon Phases and Rise and Set Times

Activity: The Size of the Sun

We will further our study of the Moon using the NAAP Moon Simulator and these questions:
Moon Phases with Simulator

Solar Interlude
Activity: the Size of the Sun This page includes an in-class activity with questions to complete for homework and a separate homework assignment.

We will end our study of the Moon by summarizing what we have learned in a class discussion.
After this discussion students will make posters to display all that they have learned about the Moon and the Phases of the Moon. The poster will be counted as a quiz grade. The grading rubric for the poster is available.
There will be a quiz on the Phases of the Moon.

The Solar System

The Size of the Solar System. This activity should require several hours of class time to complete.

Asteroids, Part I
Asteroids, Part II
Asteroids, Part III
Asteroid Facts Worksheet
Asteroids: What should be done about Apophis?

Activity: Orbits and Ellipses.
Orbit Simulator Activity Fill out the questions in the “Notebook” and print out. An in-class, computer lab activity.
See the information and lessons and activities at the Univ of CO, Boulder Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics: LASP. Probably a great resource to develop more lessons about the solar system.
Activity: The Planets an on-line research activity

All students are required to take the final exam: the exam will be comprehensive.
Last updated: Mar 05, 2012       Home
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