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
2-4pm on W, and 10-1pm on 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) (Requires ONU Username & passwd.)
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, 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 3000 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 appreciate the way that 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 a few problems every
week. However, your math skills (or lack thereof) will not
have much effect on your grade.
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 questions and news items to class for brief discussions.
A final goal is for you to see science as distinct from
pseudo-sciences, like astrology, which are rejected by
the scientific method.
PHYS 1051 fulfills the general education learning
outcome #4: 'knowledge of the physical and natural world'.
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").
The lab for this class, PHYS 1081 (1 hr), is mainly intended for
astronomy minors and physics majors with astronomy concentration.
(If you love astronomy but you're not a physics major, consider being an
for niche careers like science journalism, astrobiology, astrochemistry, and
If you are registered for the lab, expect an email during the first week for
scheduling our meeting times.
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 "A" work.
There is a legal pad in the control room that you must sign for credit.
I plan to be at the observatory for 1 hour on Friday nights (if < 50%
cloudcover) so that I can help you fulfill your observing duties.
Another time to visit is during meetings of the ONU Astronomy Club every
other Wednesday night at 9 pm.
I will not be holding "Public Events" this semester due to covid-19.
When you visit, bring along your constellation sheets (see below).
I will help get you started on these.
Please ask me first before touching the telescopes and binoculars. I will
try to display live views on the TVs so that we don't spread the virus through
You can bring a friend (not necessarily enrolled
in the class) for the long, dark walk to the Observatory. Sky gazing can be done
just outside the observatory, so please maintain social distancing.
| Week of
|| Celestial Events
||Syllabus. Survey of Universe. Powers of 10.
|| Perseids,Venus GEW
|| Naked Eye Universe - the Celestial Sphere
|| Daily, monthly, yearly cycles
|| quiz 1
||Moon and eclipses
|| Neptune Opp
||Copernican Rev., Solar system physics
||Radiation and our Sun
|| Autumnal Equinox
||Solar System Overview
|| Merc GEE
||Moon, Mercury, Venus
|| Mars Opposition!
|| Venus, Mars
|| Exam II
||Jovian planet atmospheres
|| Blue moon 10/31
||Jovian planet atmospheres / Moons
||Jovian Moons and Rings
|| Merc GEW, Taurids
| 11/20 (Fri)
||Comprehensive FINAL at 9:15-11:15 AM, usual classroom.
|| Constellation sheets, 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
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.
I have shared a Google Drive folder with you to use for turning in assignments.
You should create a subfolder with a name like: Lastname_Firstname.
Most homework assignments should be typed up in Word (.docx) but then
exported to PDF. Some might involve drawings which should be scanned and then
turned into a PDF file. The assignment will be annotated to indicate how
your grade was determined.
given on non-exam weeks. They will consist
of about 10 multiple choice/short answer questions. They cover
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.
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". 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 a planetarium program. #2 must be done under
open skies, but not necessarily at the ONU Observatory. Label all
of 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.
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. I will look for a
previous astronomy student to provide tutoring. The physics
department usually has tutors on Thursday evenings (TBA) in Science
ONU Health & Safety
In accordance with the University’s COVID-19 safety plan and the
Polar Pledge , all
students will wear face coverings at all times in academic buildings. Additionally, students
are to maintain a social distance of 6 feet when possible, especially when in conversation
with others, during academic course meetings, and while waiting for a classroom to open.
No eating or drinking will be allowed during course meetings. Students who violate this
policy will be asked to leave the building immediately and must comply with this request.
Additionally, students will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct for adjudication.
Students who are unable to wear a face covering will need to make arrangements for
accommodations with the Student Disability Coordinator prior to or during the first week of
Other Mandatory Syllabus Information: