PHYS 1051 Planetary Astronomy   Fall 2018

Class Home page:  (this page!)
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  these times:   noon on TR, and 3-4pm on TWR.
Email or call 419-772-2740. 
Instructor's Home page:
Credit hours: 3
Observatory Phone: 772-4028
Mars - Valles Marineris Pluto - Charon
NEW STUFF      (Watch this spot for new links, solutions, etc.)
This is a link about solving word problems in general.
Week 1 outline (PDF) (Requires ONU Username & passwd.)
All 4 Sky Maps. (PDF)
Review Questions: Quiz 1 and Ch. 1 (PDF)
Practice on Powers of 10 - Key
Week 2 PPT material (PDF version).
Celestial Sphere worksheet answers (PDF).
Ch. 1 Homework answers
Week 3 PPT material on the Moon (PDF version).
Review Questions: Quiz 2 (PDF)
Ch. 1 Homework (Problems 4,6,7)
Moon's Phases & Eclipses Key P. 1
Moon's Phases & Eclipses Key P. 2
Ch. 2 Copernican Revolution outline (PDF).
Ch. 2 Review and Discussion answers
Ch. 2 "Clicker questions" (PPT).
Exam I Review Questions: All Ch. 1 and Ch. 2 material! (PDF)
Ch. 3 Radiation. PDF Outline.
Ch. 3,4,16 Answers to Homework. txt file.
Review Questions: Light and the Sun. (PDF) Ignore questions on telescopes (1-7).
Ch. 16 The Sun. PDF Outline.
Ch. 6 Overview of the Solar System. PDF Outline.
Ch. 6 Hwk, (Rev and Disc 1-15 odd)
Ch. 7 The planet Earth. PDF Outline.
Ch. 7 Answers to Homework.
Review Questions: Solar System Overview, The Sun, and The Earth. (PDF)
Ch. 8 Moon and Mercury. PDF outline.
Review Questions on the Moon and Mercury. (PDF)
Ch. 9 Venus. PDF outline.
Ch. 10 Mars. PDF Outline.
Review Questions on Mars. (PDF)
Exam 2 Review Questions: The Sun, and terrestrial planets. (PDF)
Ch. 8 Answers to Homework.
Ch. 9 Answers to homework. (PDF)
Ch. 10 Answers to homework. (PDF)
Ch. 11-13 Jovian Planets. PDF Outline.
Review Questions on Jovian planets. (PDF)
Review Questions on Jovian Moons and Rings (PDF).


Course Description:

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. Space missions, like Juno, New Horizons, and the Curiousity rover, continue to make discoveries about planets and their myriad moons. 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 1000 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 a planet (its weather systems, surface features, etc.) allows us to 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 ONU Observatory.   Try to ``keep an eye on the sky" during this course. Please bring your questions and news items to class for brief discussions (and extra credit). 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'.

Pre-requisites:  None.

Text: 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").

Lab: 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 astronomy minor for niche careers like science journalism, astrobiology, astrochemistry, and science education.) If you are registered for the lab, expect an email during the first week for scheduling our meeting times.

Observatory: Your visits to the ONU Observatory will weigh into the "Observing" portion of your grade (see below). There will be one class period which meets at the Observatory to observe the Sun. You should try to visit at least 3 additional times, for "A" work. There is a legal pad in the control room that you must sign for credit. Most of the nights are too cloudy to observe, and the time of sunset gets progressively earlier. This is why there is no fixed time to visit. Also, I do not open the Observatory every clear night. Your strategy must be to watch the weather and call the Observatory on clear nights to see if it is open. The times I am most likely to be there are: 1) during Friday evenings for Public Events (every 2-3 weeks), 2) during Wednesday evenings around 9:30-10:30 pm for ONU Astronomy Club (every other Wednesday) and 3) during astronomy lab nights (TBD). When you visit, bring along your constellation sheets (see below), and try to get some views through our telescopes and binoculars. I should be able to get you started on your constellations, even though my main focus may be on the event. You should bring a friend or two (not necessarily enrolled in the class) for the long, dark walk to the Observatory.

Week of Topic Chapter(s) Tests Observatory opportunities
8/20,22,24 Syllabus. Survey of Universe. Powers of 10. 1 Survey PE0* (Welcfest)
8/27,29,31 Naked Eye Universe - the Celestial Sphere 1
9/5,7 Daily, monthly, yearly cycles 1 quiz 1 PE1 (Neptune)
9/10,12,14 Moon and eclipses 1,2 quiz 2
9/17,19,21 Copernican Revolution 2 quiz 3 PE2 (Equinox)
9/24,26,28 Copernican Rev., Solar system physics 2 Exam I The Sun
10/1,3,5 Radiation and our Sun 3,4,16 quiz 4
10/10,12 Solar System Overview 6 quiz 5 PE3 (Moon)
10/15,17,19 Earth 7 quiz 6 PE4 (Orionids)
10/22,24,26 Moon, Mercury, Venus 8,9
10/29,31,11/2 Venus, Mars 9,10 Exam II
11/5,7,9§ Jovian planet atmospheres 11-13 quiz 7 PE5 (Asteroids)
11/12,14,16 Jovian planet atmospheres / Moons 11-13 quiz 8
11/26,28,30 Jovian Moons and Rings 11-13
12/3,5,7 Pluto and Solar System Debris 14 quiz 9 PE6 (Comet Wirtanen)
12/10 (Mon) Comprehensive Final at 9:15-11:15 AM, usual classroom. _ Final exam.

* PE = Public Event (usually 8-10 pm on Fridays)
§ Last day to withdraw "W" from a class.

Component Percent
Observing Constellation sheet, 3+ visits to Observatory 5%
In-class Homework, in-class worksheets, participation 20%
Quizzes Quizzes (drop lowest grade) 25%
Exams There will be two exams and a final. 50%

Your final letter grade is assigned roughly as follows:

< 55 55-70 70-80 80-90 90-100
I will not grade any "harder" than the above. However, if the class mean drops below about 75, I usually grade more leniently.

Other Course Policies

Attendance is 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.

Homework 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 should discuss homework with your classmates, but don't copy their work verbatim. After a warning, you'll be docked points.

Quizzes will be given on non-exam weeks.  They will consist of about 10 multiple choice/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.

Exams 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 5-6 weeks of material.

Review Questions will be provided to help you prepare for Quizzes and Exams. They will 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.

Observing consists of filling out constellation sheets and visiting the ONU Observatory. The " constellation sheets include 2 maps for 2 dates during the spring (4 sheets total). Your job is to 1) write the names of the constellations within the constellation boundaries, and 2) put a check only in the constellations that you actually spotted in 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. Try to label at least 40 unique constellations, and try to spot at least 10 constellations in the sky. For full observing credit, you must visit the observatory at least 3 times. Additional visits give you extra credit in the "Observing" portion of your grade. Visiting the Observatory and signing the log will get you credit.

Disruptions 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.

Academic Misconduct Here is the Code of Academic Student Conduct from the College of A&S:
The University expects its students to conduct themselves in a dignified and honorable manner as mature members of the academic community and assumes that individually and collectively they will discourage acts of academic dishonesty.  The University also expects cooperation among administrators, faculty, staff, and students in preventing acts of academic dishonesty, in detecting such acts, reporting them, and identifying those who commit them, and in providing appropriate punishment for offenders. The University Code of Academic Student Conduct is found in Appendix C of the Student Handbook:
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. You may not receive any warning before your first zero score.

Calculators I encourage you to use a calculator in this class. A simple calculator will suffice.

Tutoring 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 Annex 116.

  Astronomy Links of all kinds Pinkney's Homepage The ONU Physics Homepage