Class Home page:
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| Department: Physics and Astronomy
Class time and place: MWF, 9:00-9:50 am, Meyer 113
Section: 1 (CRN=20764)
Instructor: Dr. Jason Pinkney
Office hours in 111 Science Annex at
9am(R), 10am(T), 1pm(T), 3pm(W,R).
Instructor's Home page: https://jpastro.net/
Credit hours: 3
Observatory Phone: 772-4028
This is a
link about solving word problems in general.
Week 1 outline (PDF)
All 4 Sky Maps. (PDF)
Astronomy has so many subfields that it is impossible to cover
them all in one semester. This course deals mainly with the solar
system (hence "Planetary Astronomy"). Stars, galaxies and
cosmology are covered in PHYS 1061. We begin historically
with man's interpretation of the nighttime sky; the "naked eye universe"
is that which we can see without a telescope. We then look
in detail at the Sun and planets. Two natural categories
of planets emerge: the terrestrials and the Jovians.
We are now in a golden age of discovery with space missions
like the Parker Solar Probe, James Webb Space Telescope, InSight,
and Perseverance in the news this year.
Finally the comets, asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects
are small but important for understanding the early formation
of the solar system. We now have data on over 5000 extrasolar planets
(planets around other stars) which challenge our theories of
solar system formation and evolution.
I have many goals for you in Planetary Astronomy. I want
you to see how learning facts about planets (their weather
systems, surface features, etc.) allows us to better
generalize about planetary processes, and thus improve
our understanding of our own Earth.
This is called "comparative planetology".
Math has played a big role in the development of astronomy (and vice versa),
so I would like to challenge you with occasional activities and homeworks requiring
math. However, you can still do well on the quizzes and exams without
great math skills. I will make sure that you get a chance to study the sky
directly, using the unaided eye and telescopes, at the
Try to ``keep an eye on the sky" during this course. Please
bring your astronomical questions and news items to class for brief discussions.
A final goal is for you to see science as valuable and distinct from
pseudo-sciences (like astrology) which are rejected by
the scientific method.
Astronomy Today, 9/E (9th Edition) by Chaisson and McMillan.
This 2017 edition has a "rent-only" ISBN-13 of 978-0134450278. This is what we
have in the bookstore. Do NOT buy the Volume 1 or 2 versions
("The Solar System" and "Stars and Galaxies"). I don't require you to bring the text to class.
The Astronomy Minor:
You might consider being an
astronomy minor if a good familiarity with astronomy
would complement your current major. Consider entering an exciting field like
astrobiology, astrochemistry, archeoastronomy, cosmochemistry, science education,
science illustration, or science journalism.
Your visits to the
ONU Observatory will weigh into the "Observing" portion of your grade (see
You should try to visit at least 3 times for full credit.
There is a legal pad in the control room that you must sign for credit.
You can visit for as little as 10 minutes for credit, but to make progress
on your observing forms and constellation sheets, you should
plan to stay at least 30 minutes. Bring your pre-labelled sheets along with you.
The best times to visit are on Friday nights when the weather calls for
< 50% cloudcover. The exact times will be announced in class.
I'm planning 5 of the Fridays to be
in which the surrounding community is invited. These last for 2 hours.
The other Friday observing sessions will last for only 1 hour.
Another time to visit is during meetings of the ONU Astronomy Club every
other Wednesday night at 9 pm.
You can bring a friend (not necessarily enrolled in the class) for the
long, dark walk to the Observatory.
While there, follow these rules: 1) don't shine lights in other people's eyes,
2) keep lines spread out, and 3) don't push on the telescopes or touch their
optics. Again, bring along the observing forms and
constellation sheets that were given to you in class, and
label the constellation sheets ahead of time.
| Week of
|| Celestial Events
||Syllabus. Survey of Universe. Powers of 10.
|| Welcomefest (8/21)
|| Naked Eye Universe - the Celestial Sphere
|| quiz 1
|| LABOR DAY BREAK
|| Daily, monthly, yearly cycles
||Moon and eclipses
|| Neptune opposition
|| Autumnal Equinox / Jup Opp.
||Copernican Rev., Solar system physics
|| Light and spectroscopy
|| Draconid meteors 10/7
||Solar System Overview
|| Orionid Meteors (10/21)
||Moon, Mercury, Venus
|| Exam II
|| Taurid Meteors
|| Venus, Mars
|| Lun eclipse (11/8), Uran. Opp. (11/9)
||Jovian planet atmospheres
||Jovian planet atmospheres / Moons
||Jovian Moons and Rings
|| Opposition of Mars
| 12/14 (Wed)
||Comprehensive FINAL at 9:15-11:15 AM, usual classroom.
|| Constellation sheets, 2 observing forms, 3+ visits to Observatory
||Homework, in-class worksheets, participation
||Quizzes (drop lowest grade)
||There will be two exams and a final.
Your final letter grade is assigned roughly as follows:
I will not grade
any "harder" than the above. However, if the
class mean drops below about 75, I usually grade more leniently.
| < 55
Other Course Policies
will only be used sparingly for this class unless we have to go online.
Read how I will use Moodle in the Introduction Section
important for doing well in this course.
Absence can directly lower your grade if you miss a quiz or
in-class activity. Also, I record attendance on many days and
then form a score out of your attendance which factors into
the "In-class" part of your grade.
Let me know in advance (e-mail is good) if you plan
to miss for a valid reason
(e.g. your team is on the
road, you are sick, you have a family emergency).
If you miss a quiz or exam because of an emergency, let me know
as soon as possible, and provide proof of the emergency.
"Proof" may consist of the
name and phone number of some parent or authority figure who knows your
situation. If you miss an in-class worksheet
activity, you should get a copy of the worksheet but you won't
receive credit for that work.
will consist mainly of
reading the textbook and writing answers to review questions
from the textbook. Some math problems will also be assigned
from the textbook.
Homework will receive 50% credit if turned in late. It will be scored
on completeness and correctness, but not every problem will be checked.
You can discuss homework with your classmates, but don't copy
their work verbatim. After a warning, you'll be docked points.
Look for keys posted after the homework is due.
Turning in Assignments.
This semester I will be accepting only hardcopies of homework (as opposed
to scanning and uploading).
These can be written out by hand if you can write neatly, but printouts of Word
documents are preferred. Do not email the assignments to me without
will be given on some non-exam weeks. They will consist
of about 10 multiple choice or short answer questions. They cover
the assigned reading and especially the material discussed in class.
You can only make up a quiz that was missed because of an excused conflict
or emergency. Also, you can only make up the quiz before the
answers are revealed (usually the next class). For this reason, I will
drop your lowest quiz score. Expect a total of 6-7 quizzes.
will be given roughly every 4-5 weeks.
These will weigh most heavily towards your class
grade. The final exam will be comprehensive, but will emphasize the
last 3-4 weeks of material.
will be provided to help you prepare for
Quizzes and Exams.
appear under "NEW STUFF" on this web page. Many of these questions will appear on the
Quizzes and Exams and so it is strongly recommended that you use them to
prepare. More than half of the questions on a given test will be found
in the review.
consists of filling out constellation sheets and visiting the ONU
constellation sheets include 2 maps for 2 dates during the
semester (4 sheets total). Your job is to 1) write the names of the
constellations within the constellation boundaries, and 2)
Fill out this Observing Form on two
different occasions in which you actually viewed the sky.
#1 can be done on your laptop using the Stellarium planetarium program.
#2 must be done under open skies, but not necessarily at the ONU Observatory. Label all
of the constellations on the maps, and the 6 brightest stars on each map.
For full observing credit, you must visit the observatory at
least 3 times.
Signing the log at the observatory will get you the observing
credit. The Observing Forms and constellation sheets are due on the last
day of class.
You should ask questions during class, and talk during group activities,
otherwise you shouldn't talk while the professor is talking.
Anything that distracts your teacher or your neighbors is hindering
the teaching/learning process. This includes playing with your phones,
laptops or tablets, talking with neighbors, coming to class late, and
leaving class early.
If you want to use a laptop or tablet in class, you must show me how you
can write equations and figures into your notes with it.
In PHYS 1051 (this class), the biggest temptation will be to look at
another person's work during tests. Spread out before tests.
Do not wear caps during tests. Do not use phones or electronic devices
to help you. A calculator (not a phone calculator) is acceptable
if it isn't used to store information.
The penalty for cheating is a zero score for the quiz or exam.
See the link to the university code of conduct in the table below.
I encourage you to use a calculator in this class.
A simple calculator will suffice.
is available. You are welcome to drop by during my office hours,
or you can make an appointment for another time. The physics
department usually has tutors on Thursday evenings (TBA) in Science
Common syllabus information.
common course information
which applies to all courses. This includes Academic Dishonesty, Accomodations,
ONU Health and Safety Policy, Title IX, DEI, Grading Modes, Readmission,
Repeat Policies, and more.