PHYSICS 1061 ``Stellar and Galactic Astronomy''  Spring 2012

Credits: 4.00
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Class Home page:  (this page!)

Instructor: Dr. Jason Pinkney
Office hours:   in 111 Science Annex at  these times .
Email: or call 419-772-2740.
Observatory Phone: 419-772-4028
Instructor's Home page:
Class time and place:  MTRF, 10:00-10:50 am, Meyer 114

     (Watch this spot for new links, outlines, solutions, etc.)

This is a nice link about solving word problems.
An excellent web site for reviewing physics concepts: Hyperphysics.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Week 1 outline (PDF)
Ch. 1 practice questions. (PPT file)


The official lab for this class is Physics 256 (a 1 credit course), but you only have to sign up for it if you are an astronomy minor. If so, please sign up for this lab during the first week and talk with me to set up a meeting time.  We will meet on the second week of class.

The rest of the class will also have opportunities to visit the new ONU Observatory on many occasions, and will be required to visit at least twice. Chances will be on public event nights (which occur every 2-3 weeks on Friday nights), every other Wednesday night during Astronomy Club meetings, and other nights to be announced. Also, ask me if you would like to join the Astronomy Club.

Text: Astronomy Today, 7th Edition.  By Chaisson and McMillan. ISBN-10: 0321691431.  (If there is any chance that you will take the PHYS 255, Planetary Astronomy, do not buy the two-volume, soft-cover version.)

Course Description:
Stellar and Galactic Astronomy is an introduction to astronomy.   This course deals with stars and galaxies. The details of our solar system are left to PHYS 252.   We will begin with a survey of the naked-eye universe (mostly nearby objects) and end with cosmology (the distant universe).   In-between we will discuss such topics as the Copernican Revolution, the sunspot cycle, how stars are born and die, black holes, galaxies and the universe as a whole.  

There are many fascinating stories behind how the (sometimes dry) facts of astronomy are established. So when you hear or read some new fact, like the Sun's surface temperature is about 6000 K, or all of the iron in our bodies came from supernovae, keep in mind the question "how do they know that?". In fact, that question is the beginning of critical thinking and should even be asked of accepted facts, like the spherical shape of the Earth.

Physics 1061 fulfills a general education science requirement and so you will be required to learn some general science skills and concepts. These include critical thinking, problem solving, use of mathematics and the scientific method. Astronomy relies heavily upon physics and math in order to explain the universe. A thorough understanding of astronomy requires math and physics beyond the scope of this class, however, some physics principles must be used in order to begin to understand the nature of stars and galaxies. For example, almost everything that we know about stars comes from analyzing the electromagnetic radiation (or "light") that they emit. Thus, we need to learn about the nature of light. We will also touch on gravitation, thermodynamics, and atomic structure. Since this is an introductory course, I will try to make the tests nearly math-free. But you will still be exposed to math in homework and other activities.   A tentative calendar of topics is outlined below.


You will be graded on the following:
Observatory 30pts/visit (1st 3),then 10 pts/visit. 10%
In-class Homework, activities, attendance 20%
Quizzes Quizzes (drop lowest grade) 20%
Exams There will be two exams and a final. 50%

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 75, I will grade more leniently.

Course Policies

Attendance is important for doing well in this course.  Absenteeism can directly lower your grade if you miss a quiz or a graded activity.  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" can consist of a name and phone number of a parent or authority figure who knows your situation.

Homework may consist of working problems from the textbook or questions I come up with.  Homework will not be accepted after it has been graded. If you foresee yourself missing a deadline because of an excusable absence, again, let me know ahead of time. Homework will be scored on completeness and correctness, but not every problem will be corrected. It is ok to compare with your peers.  The "homework" part of your grade will include participation in activities.

Quizzes will be given on non-exam weeks.  They will consist of 5-10 multiple choice/short answer questions.  They cover the assigned reading and especially the material discussed in class.  They may be given without notice.  You can only make up a quiz that was missed because of a valid conflict or emergency.  Also, you can only make up the quiz before the answers are revealed (usually the next period). For this reason, I will drop your lowest quiz score.

Exams will be given roughly every 3 weeks. These will weigh most heavily towards your class grade. The final exam will be comprehensive, but will emphasize the last 2-3 weeks of material.

Disruptions You can ask questions during class, and talk during group activities, but in general you shouldn't talk while the professor is talking. Anything that distracts your teacher or your neighbors is hindering the learning process.  Class begins at 10:00 AM.  Don't be late or you may face public humiliation. You might also miss a quiz.   In general, do not disrupt the class or you may be asked to leave.

Academic Misconduct The College of A&S has a Code for Academic Student Conduct and forms for reporting students. Academic integrity is one of the basic principles of a university community. Ohio Northern University encourages and expects the highest standards of academic honesty from all students. The A&S code states that cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary action. In PHYS 1061 (this class), the biggest temptation will be to look at another person's work during tests. Do not wear caps during quizzes or exams or store information on electronic devices. The penalty for cheating is a zero score for the quiz or exam.

Calculators. I encourage you to use a calculator in this class.

Tutoring is available. You are welcome to drop by during my office hours, or you can try to make an appointment. I will look for a previous astronomy student to provide tutoring. Stay tuned.  You can also try the tutors provided by A&S, although they may not have astronomy experience, they can probably grasp any physics or math in this class. Science tutoring sessions usually occur on Thursday evenings, starting at 7:00 PM.

Schedule (tentative):

Week of Topic Chapter(s) Graded material (not complete)
Syllabus. Survey of Universe. 1 quiz1
Naked Eye Universe - the celestial sphere 1 quiz2
History of Cosmology 2 Exam I
Starlight and spectroscopy.
3,4 quiz3
The Sun and Stars. Properties.
16,17 quiz4
Stellar evolution 19,20 quiz5
Exotic, evolved stars 21,22 Exam II.
EASTER -- --
The Galaxy 23 quiz6
Galaxies 24,25 quiz7
Cosmology.  26,27 quiz8
5/17 Tues
Final at 8:00-10:00, usual classroom. _ Comprehensive Final exam.


  Cool Astro Links Pinkney's Homepage The ONU Physics Homepage Hyperphysics