ASTRONOMY: January 16 - May 11, 2013
Demetris Nicolaides, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Office hours: 11-12, 5-6 Monday, 3-4 Tuesday. Also by appointment.
Phone: 973-748-9000 ext. 1321
TEXTBOOK: Fraknoi, Morrison & Wolff VOYAGES THROUGH THE UNIVERSE, 3nd Edition.
COURSE OBJECTIVE: This is an introductory course in astronomy which explains how physical laws prescribe natural processes in the universe. Includes discussions on the motion, composition and evolution of the planets, stars and interstellar matter. Also, examines the structure and evolution of the universe using the Big Bang theory. Some lab is an integral part of the course.
COMPETENCIES TO BE DEVELOPED:
Astronomy is part of the General Education Program at Bloomfield College and is designed to provide students with basic knowledge of the laws of nature.
1. Scientific and technological skills (primary competency):
The awareness of advances in science and technology and the ethical and social understanding of the implications of these advances; the understanding of quantitative analysis, scientific methodology and concepts; the development of research skills; and the awareness of the general functions, capabilities, and impact of technology.
1. Appreciation of science.
2. Perform an experiment to test a scientific hypothesis using the techniques of scientific investigation.
3. Interpret the results of a scientific investigation.
4. Use the basic language of science to differentiate between scientific and non-scientific explanations.
5. Identify principles and ethics of science and apply them to contemporary issues of science, technology and society.
6. Understand the operation, capabilities, and impact of technology.
My goal is to provide students with a clear presentation of some of the fundamental laws of nature and how these laws are used to describe the mysteries of the universe. I believe that Astronomy touches many areas of life, from the practical aspect to the very abstract, and I hope all students can find something interesting in such a class. My teaching style will not be to introduce just facts, but basic laws of nature that can be used to analyze and understand a variety of physical processes in the universe. Often observational facts will be used as clues to create new hypotheses or as evidence to test existing hypotheses. For example, understanding the principles behind light spectra and study light emitted by any light source in the universe, many different properties such as composition, age and evolution, of planets, stars, galaxies or the entire universe as an entity may be inferred.
2. Problem Solving/Critical thinking (secondary competency):
The ability to examine, analyze, and interpret information; to question assumptions; to use inductive and deductive reasoning; to use informal logic to develop arguments; and to apply logic and reasoning to understand relationships, develop values, draw verifiable conclusions, and develop a viable solution to an identifiable problem.
1. Examine, analyze, and interpret information in selected disciplinary contexts.
2. Develop a logical argument and a well-reasoned conclusion
A course in Astronomy is a very complex one because its main subject is the entire universe. My goal is to make such a course accessible to both science or non-science students. In this course, students will be shown how a scientific argument is constructed from observation, or how based on a theory a certain observation is to be expected. Furthermore, using natural laws a conclusion or a descriptive theory of nature can be created. For example, the observation of the 3o Kelvin background radiation confirms the partial validity of one of the most successful theories of all, the Big Bang Theory.
1) Appreciation of science.
2) Understanding various laws of nature helps one make informed decisions.
A. about the various motions of celestial bodies.
B. various properties of electromagnetic radiation and relate them to the workings of the universe.
C. how the solar system formed.
D. how stars produce light.
E. about star evolution.
F. about the Big Bang theory.
METHODS OF TEACHING: Lectures with hands-on demonstrations, computer simulations, problem solving sessions and labs.
WEB: As an additional learning tool, use my home-page where among other things you will find the Lessons for the course.
HOMEWORK: Homework problems and reading are assigned for each chapter. Students should make an honest effort to read all required chapters as well as the Lessons on the web. For the exams, students are responsible for all reading (from the book and the web) as well as all material covered in class.
EXAMS: There will be 4 written exams given during the course of the semester, the lowest grade of which will be dropped. An exam which is missed corresponds to the grade zero. There will be no make-up exams. After the lowest grade is dropped, the average of the remaining exams will count for 60% of the final course grade.
FINAL EXAM: There will be a final exam which may be comprehensive, and will count for 30% of the final course grade.
LABORATORY: Labs may include the following: Celestial Sphere (Seasons, Locating stars on the sky), Star Finder (Compass directions and angular height, Planets on the sky, Sun the ecliptic and seasons), Phases of the Moon, Properties of light, Gravity.
Formal lab reports are required for each of the labs performed in the laboratory. A lab report will be accepted only if the student does the experiment. These reports will be collected and graded. If not submitted on the required time, points will be taken off. The average grade of the reports will count for the 10% of the final course grade.
Lab report format: OBJECTIVE, (2 or 3 sentences), DATA, (in tables), and DATA ANALYSIS, (which among other things includes graphs and the answers to questions). The CONCLUSION of the lab must be written at the end. A straight edge and protractor for use in preparing formal laboratory reports is required, or alternatively but optionally, the reports may be prepared with the help of various computer software such as Quattro Pro or Excel.
ATTENDANCE POLICY: Students in all classes are permitted absences totaling two weeks of class meetings, effective the first day of class. When students exceed this allowance, a grade of W will be filed, up until the last date allowed for withdrawal without permission, or WF thereafter.
A student participating in a College-approved activity may be excused from class without its counting toward the two-week limit of absences. "Approved" means an activity approved by an officer of the College (President, Dean).
Lateness or early departure may count as an absence.
IN SUMMARY: Exams 60%
The final course grade is determined by first finding the average of each grade category (Exam, Lab, Final) rounded to the nearest integer, and then averaging these averages (according to their assigned percentage) also rounded to the nearest integer. The numerical value of the final course grade will correspond to a letter grade as follows:
A: 96-100 A-: 90- 95 B+ : 87-89 B: 83-86 B-: 80-82
C+: 77-79 C: 73-76 C- : 70-72 D+: 67-69 D: 63-66 D-:60-62 F: 0-59
Also, it is strongly recommended that you read:
Prologue and brief tour of the universe, Ch 20.1, Ch 21, Ch 24, Ch 25 and the Epilogue: cosmic evolution and the search for life elsewhere.
Mid-term grades due March 15
Last day to withdraw from a course without permission of Academic Standards Com. March 27
Spring break begins 8:00 AM March 4 (Classes resume March 11)
Easter recess begins 8:00 AM March 28 (Classes resume April 1)
Last Day of classes is May 4