Class Home page:
(Watch this spot for new links, solutions, etc.)
| 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
10-noon on T, 2-4pm on W, 10-11am 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 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 lab for this class, PHYS 1081 (1 hr), is mainly intended for
astronomy minors and physics majors with astronomy concentration.
I may make exceptions for interested students. You may need instructor's
approval to register so please contact me.
If you are registered for the lab, expect an email during the first week for
scheduling our meeting times.
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 "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 resume "Public Events" (usually Friday nights) if/when the covid-19 surge declines.
When you visit, bring along your constellation sheets (see below).
I will help you get started on these. 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.
I will try to display live views on the TVs to reduce the spread of germs/virus's,
through eyepiece contact.
| Week of
|| Celestial Events
||Syllabus. Survey of Universe. Powers of 10.
|| Welcomefest (8/22)
|| Naked Eye Universe - the Celestial Sphere
|| quiz 1
|| Oppositions of Sat & Jup
|| LABOR DAY BREAK
|| Daily, monthly, yearly cycles
||Moon and eclipses
|| Autumnal Equinox
||Copernican Rev., Solar system physics
|| Light and spectroscopy
|| Draconids 10/7
||Solar System Overview
|| Orionid Meteors
|| Venus GEE
||Moon, Mercury, Venus
|| Exam II
|| Taurid Meteors
|| Venus, Mars
|| Oppos. of Uranus (11/5)
||Jovian planet atmospheres
|| Partial Lunar Eclipse 11/19
||Jovian planet atmospheres / Moons
|| New Moon (12/4)
||Jovian Moons and Rings
| 12/13 (Mon)
||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
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 resume 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
I'll usually bring a plastic bin for you to drop it into at the end of class.
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 a 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.
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
ONU wrote this
Safety Plan for 2021-2022
on 8/9/21. The key point is that all students must wear masks in class.
During the delta surge, it is wise to wear a mask indoors even if vaccinated.
We are not requiring social distancing, but it is still a good idea to be
spread out in our seating. Let me know if you have to quarantine or isolate
so that I can help you keep up with the class.
Other Mandatory Syllabus Information: