ASTRONOMY 1210 (O'CONNELL) FALL 2012

INTRODUCTION TO THE SKY AND THE SOLAR SYSTEM


Planets


SCHEDULE, OUTLINE, AND READING ASSIGNMENTS


The dates below represent the approximate start of each topic and reading assignment. All dates are tentative, except for the final exam. Assignments are given in brackets; numbers refer to chapters in The Cosmic Perspective by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit (6th edition, 2010). There will be a special (outside of regular class-time) review session covering topics requested by the class before each exam (not listed).



8/28: First class meeting: Orientation
 
8/30: Introduction. Astronomy as a science. Scale of the universe in space and time. The night sky. Prehistoric astronomy. [CH 1, 2, 3.1; Supplement I]


9/18: Discovery of the Solar System. Early scientific astronomy. Copernicus to Newton. Gravity and planetary orbits. [CH 3, 4]


9/27: Tools for Modern Astronomy. Modern science and technology. The nature of light. The electromagnetic spectrum. Atomic structure. Spectroscopy. Telescopes. The space program and space astronomy. [Supplements II, III; Optional: CH 5, 6]


FIRST MIDTERM EXAM: Tuesday, 2 October
Coverage: Introduction through EM spectrum.


[Fall Break: 8 - 9 October]


10/11: Origin of the Solar System. Inventory & systematics of the solar system. Formation of the solar system. Discovery of other planetary systems. [CH 7, 8, 13]


10/16: Earth and Moon. Earth as a planet. Earth's age, composition, interior. The Apollo missions. The lunar surface. The violent formation and early history of the Moon. [CH 9, 10]


10/25: The Terrestrial Planets. Mercury, Venus, Mars. Evolution of terrestrial atmospheres. The MESSENGER, Magellan, Viking, Pathfinder, Rover, & Curiosity missions. [CH 9, 10]


SECOND MIDTERM EXAM: Thursday, 8 November
Coverage: spectroscopy through Mars.


11/13:Lowell's Legacy: ET's. Life on Mars? "War of the Worlds". UFO's. [War of the Worlds]


Deadline for extra credit assignments with full credit: Friday, 16 November



11/20: The Outer Planets. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. The Voyager, Galileo, & Cassini missions. Comet impact on Jupiter. Kuiper Belt Objects. [CH 11, 12.3]


[Thanksgiving Break: 21 - 23 November]


11/27: Interplanetary Matter. Asteroids, comets, meteors. Collisions with Earth and biological extinctions. [CH 12]


Deadline for all extra credit assignments: Friday, 30 November, 5 PM


12/4: Life in the Universe. Evolution of life on Earth. Other biospheres in the solar system? In the galaxy? Search for alien civilizations. [CH 13, 24]


Last Constellation Quiz: Thursday, 6 December


FINAL EXAM: Wednesday, 12 December 2 - 4 PM


SKY EVENTS THIS SEMESTER

For more details, see the Sky and Telescope ``This Week's Sky'' Web Page


Sky overhead at 10 PM on 10 November 2012; from Heavens Above.


Last modified August 2012 by rwo

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