The Solar System and the Search for Life Beyond Earth
This course presents an introduction to astronomy and astrophysics with an emphasis on the solar system and the possibility of life beyond Earth. The first third of the course deals with understanding the history of astronomy, orbits, gravitation, optics and the properties of light and matter. The second third of the course investigates the properties, origin, and evolution of the major planets, asteroids, comets, the Sun and other components of the Solar System with particular emphasis on comparative aspects with respect to the Earth. Recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the intensifying search for life on Mars will be highlighted in the last third of the course when we explore the developing field of Astrobiology, the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This course is intended for non-science concentrators with a basic high school math and science background. Astronomy 101 has a one hour discussion section every week. Course requirements include assigned reading, section meetings, homework, observations, quizzes, and exams. Telescope viewing is also incorporated into the class.
Locations and Times
Lectures in Room 182 Dennison (DENN); Discussions in 5180B Angell Hall (AH) Lectures MWF, 1-2 or 2-3 PM; also every student has a discussion section (discussion sections do not meet the first week of classes). Students can attend either lecture section.
Books and Materials
A special textbook was compiled for this class and it is available in the bookstores: Introduction to Astronomy: The Solar System and the Search for Life Beyond Earth (ISBN0536469962). This is a combination of select chapters from two books: 1) The Solar System: The Cosmic Perspective, Fourth Edition; by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit; 2) Life in the Universe, Second Edition; by Bennett, Shostak, and Jakosky.
Office hours: Wed, 10 AM - 12 PM, and by appointment.
Phone of main Astronomy office: 764-3440
Graduate Student Instructors
Discussion section: 34% of your course grade, including a visit to the Angell Hall Telescope.
Exams: 20% each (3 total, exams are not cumulative)
The last exam will be during finals period (see schedule). There is no cumulative final exam.
Participation: 6% (of this 50% is based on attendance, 50% on answering in-class questions. Both are based on the use of electronic response devices; you can miss up to 6 classes without attendance penalty).
No extra credit.
Observing in Angell Hall
All students will be required to attend at least one observing session in Angell Hall using the telescopes to view the sky. Note that this telescope observing assignment is worth 10% of your section grade and it will be important to attend an observing opportunity when there is clear weather. See the ctools site for further details.
Participation grade is based equally on attending lecture and answering in-class questions. Attendance will be taken in this class through use of the electronic response devices (see "iclicker information" below). As noted in "Grading," the attendance represents 3% of your final grade and we begin taking attendance on Sep. 12. We allow you to miss up to 6 classes for any reason without penalty, and we will not grant excuses for personal emergencies since they factor into your six allowed absences. During each lecture, there will be a few questions posed that can be answered only through the electronic response devices. Correct answers throughout the semester are worth a cumulative 3% of final grade.
Homework will be posted on ctools on Fridays and must be handed in at the beginning of class the following Friday (or Monday if no Friday class). YOU MUST PUT YOUR SECTION NUMBER ON YOUR HOMEWORK OR IT MIGHT NOT BE GRADED. Late homework will be accepted but only before the start of the following lecture period, with a 25% score penalty.
Through Course Tools (http://ctools.umich.edu) there will be a dedicated chat room for this class. This will be used for online office hours by the GSIs (see Discussion Section Syllabus for details regarding GSI office hours).
This course requires the i>clicker student response device for use in lectures. These are available at the U-M Computer Showcase in the basement of the student union for ~$33 (used ~$23). SAVE YOUR RECEIPT. Your receipt is required if you decide to sell back your device at the end of this course. YOU MUST REGISTER YOUR CLICKER ON THE CTOOLS WEBSITE TO HAVE YOUR SCORES RECORDED. See http://showcase.itcs.umich.edu/remotes/ under products for further information.
A useful collection of resources on Academic Integrity at the University of Michigan can be found at: http://www.lib.umich.edu/acadintegrity/. Any incidents of plagiarism, cheating, or homework copying will be reported to Academic Affairs.
There are no classes on October 15, during fall break, nor on 23 November, Thanksgiving break.
Syllabus and Approximate Schedule
This table contains a detailed syllabus. This schedule is subject to change during the semester - please check CourseTools website (ctools.umich.edu) regularly for updates. In the table we have used a few abbreviations. For instructors, LH = Lee Hartmann, DM = Dipankar Maitra. Our "special textbook" consists of sections from two other textbooks. The assigned reading below specifies which section to read. The first part is from "The Solar System: The Cosmic Perspective" (SS), and the second part is from "Life in the Universe" (LU).
See CTools site (UMich internal only) for lecture notes, resources, announcements, etc.
This page is maintained by Dipankar Maitra. Last updated: Sep 09, 2012