Home People Calendar Undergrad Grad Research Observatories V.A.I.L. V.I.T.A. Public Outreach AQuA Local

Whittle's Spring 2012 ASTR 1220 Class Home Page

Introduction to the Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

ASTR 1220 Section 1 Class No. 12060
M, W 2:00-3:15pm Clark 107
Class Home Page: http://www.astro.virginia.edu/class/whittle/astr1220/syllabus_s12.html

Instructor: D. Mark Whittle
Office: 216 Astronomy Building, 530 McCormick Rd.
Phone: 434-924-4900
email: dmw8f@virginia.edu
Office Hours: T, R 14:00-15:00 please email beforehand

The Cosmic Perspective by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, 6th Edition; and web access to the associated site, Mastering Astronomy. New texts purchased at the University Bookstore come bundled with a web access code for Mastering Astronomy (as well as the Starry Night planetarium program, which we will NOT be using). Web access from last semester (e.g. for ASTR 1210) can be used for this semester. Note that used texts may not include the web access code, in which case you will need to purchase separate access (about $50, which cancels, approximately, the difference in price between the New and Used texts.) You will also need an i>clicker student response device. If you already have one, you won't need a new one. Note that our text includes a $10 rebate certificate for the i>clicker.
Course Topics and Lecture Notes:
An outline of the course topics, and their associated chapters in the text, can be found at http://www.astro.virginia.edu/class/whittle/astr1220/topics_s12.html. It is difficult to match these topics to specific dates within the semester, but we will progress steadily through them.

PDF versions of my Power Point slides, along with movies and animations shown in class, can also be found on this page.
Your grade will be based on 2 midterm exams, a final exam, 1 lab exercise, in class exercises, and weekly homework, totaling 550 points. The exams will be mainly multiple choice and true-false questions. You will be given all necessary formulae for the (relatively small number of) quantitative questions.

Midterm Exam 1 100 points Monday, Feb 20
Midterm Exam 2 100 points Monday, April 2
Final Exam 200 points 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Thursday, May 10
Classroom Exercises 50 points
Regular Homework Exercises 75 points  
Constellation Lab 25 points Maximum possible grade declines during semester

The final exam is fully comprehensive with additional emphasis on the material covered after the second midterm exam. It will be approximately twice as long as a midterm exam and in the same general style.

Grades will be posted on the UVaCollab site at http://collab.itc.virginia.edu. Your final grade is based on your percentage scored out of the total, 550 points. The A/B grade boundary will be approximately 87% with B/C, C/D, and D/F boundaries lower by steps of 10% (These boundaries would correspond to 478, 423, 368, 313 points). The A/B boundary may be modified slightly to ensure that at least 60% of the class will get As and Bs. Intermediate grades (B+, B, B-, etc) will be assigned. The Pass/Fail boundary is D-/F.

Attendance Policy:

It is in your best interest to attend class regularly. During most classes you will be asked to answer a number of questions using the i>clicker. Credit will only be given for answers completed during class. You must attend the scheduled midterm exams and the final exam. See me at least two lectures before an exam if you have a conflict. Makeup exams are given only at the discretion of the instructor.


Approximately each week, you will be assigned a few homework problems to complete using the online Mastering Astronomy system. To register, follow the directions in the Mastering Astronomy card that was bundled with your text and use the course number MAWHITTLE76299 to enroll yourself in the course (The registration information can also be found here). For your Student ID please use your UVa email ID (e.g. dmw8f), and for your first name please use your legal first name (not necessarily the name you like to be called). Homework assignments will typically be due on Sunday evenings at midnight. Late homework will be penalized 20% per day, down to a maximum of 50%. The Homework schedule and some general guidelines are given here.

Constellation Lab:

This lab consists of learning the names and locations of the brightest stars and constellations, completing a worksheet, and passing a short quiz. The lab requires no prior preparation and can be completed in a single night. The lab is graded pass/fail, with a threshold for passing of 15/20. You may retake the lab if you fail. For our class, the number of points that you receive depends on the date that you pass the lab:
Jan 23 - Feb 29
March 1 - March 31
April 1 - May 1
You should complete the Constellation Lab as early as possible in the semester since the number of points that you receive declines as the semester progresses, the lab gets very crowded as deadlines approach and you run the risk of being clouded out. There will be absolutely no exceptions to this schedule. See the Lab Information page for more details. You must sign up for an observing session in advance. Bring a pencil and (if possible) a clipboard.
Classroom exercises:
During most classes, I will ask you to respond to a number of questions using the i>clicker student response system. At the beginning of the semester, you must register your i-clicker within our Collab site (one of the left hand fields). Enter the number on the back of the i>clicker (this comprises 0-9 and A-F, so there is no letter "O", it is zero "0"). I will use your responses to gauge the overall comprehension of the subject, to clear up any misunderstandings, and to learn your opinions on various topics. You will receive 1/2 point for responding and an additional 1/2 point if you are correct. Once you have earned 50 points, you will not earn any additional credit. I do not allow students to make up missed questions. You may not use another student's i>clicker to answer questions for them. Answering questions for another student, whether they are present or absent, is a violation of the honor code.

Honor Code:

I would like to remind you that ALL work for this class is subject to the Honor Code, even if you did not explicitly sign the pledge. This means the work you submit for exams, homework, in-class exercises, and lab work should be exclusively your own. If you are unsure of exactly what this means, ask me for clarification.

Additional Help:

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of my office hours. I am always happy to meet with you to discuss the material and answer questions. If the posted hours (Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.) do not work for you because of a class, please schedule an appointment with me for another time. In any case, please email me ahead of time to let me know you intend to come to office hours.

Last modified Monday, Jan 9, 2012
Copyright © 1996-2012 University of Virginia Department of Astronomy.
All rights reserved. Maintained by Mark Whittle