Important Notices

Posted by Reba Bandyopadhyay

Important Class Notices will be posted here, including homework due dates and exam dates. Exam dates will be finalized one calendar week prior to date of exam.
FINAL GRADES for the class have been computed and submitted. Have a good summer!
FINAL EXAM grades have been posted to the Mastering Astronomy gradebook.

Course Overview


This course offers a broad overview of modern astronomy. We will examine how observation, experimentation and exploration have led to our present day understanding of the universe we live in. Although this is essentially a non-mathematical science course, a basic knowledge of mathematics is required. Our goal is to help you gain a physical understanding and an appreciation of the cosmos and more generally of scientific method. Along the way, we will also use and practice critical thinking skills.
Please see the syllabus for detailed course information and policies, including grading policies and scale, exam and extra credit information, and course expectations.



Textbook: The Essential Cosmic Perspective, 6th Edition - Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit; with Mastering Astronomy. Access to the online Mastering Astronomy content is required.

All homework will be done through the Mastering Astronomy website. All homework assignments will be due at 6:00 PM on Wednesdays. There will be a total of 9 assignments, and their due dates will be posted under Important Notices above and announced in class.

The course code for the PERIOD 6 class is MABANDYOPADHYAY83915.
Be sure to use the right code for your class period!

PDFs of the lectures will be available for downloading HERE (click this link) within two business days after we finish the lectures for a given chapter.

Observing Project


One of the most enjoyable aspects of astronomy is actually observing the sky either with the eyes, binoculars or a telescope. For this required project, students are expected to attend a Public Night observing session at the Campus Teaching Observatory. These take place from 8:30 - 10PM every clear Friday evening during the semester, plus one Tuesday per month (click links above for directions to the observatory and the phone number for weather inquiries). For your assignment, you must turn in a completed observing report form (DOCX) together with a token (obtained from the observatory staff). Please read the instructions on the observing form carefully and thoroughly for further details and specific observing nights available and due dates. Do not wait until the last available week before your report due date to attend the Observatory - it may be cloudy!

Download the required REPORT FORM (Word file) here. You may also download the form as a PDF, but be aware that handwritten reports will not be accepted, so you must fill in your answers electronically on the form (aside from the required sketches).

Course Schedule


Preliminary schedule for lectures and textbook reading (subject to change):

Week ofLecture TopicsTextbook Reading
6 Jan Introduction; Our Place in the UniverseCh. 1 & 2
13 Jan Science of Astronomy; Motion, Energy, GravityCh. 3 & 4
20 Jan LightCh. 5.1-5.2
27 Jan Telescopes; Solar System Basics; Formation of Planetary Systems Ch. 5.3 & Ch. 6.1-6.4
3 Feb Extrasolar Planets; Earth & the Terrestrial PlanetsCh. 6.5 & Ch. 7
10 Feb Jovian Planets and their Moons; Asteroids & CometsCh. 8 & Ch. 9.1-9.2
17 Feb Dwarf Planets; Exam 1 Review; EXAM 1Ch. 9.3-9.4
24 Feb The SunCh. 10
10 Mar Properties of StarsCh. 11 & Ch 12.1-12.2
17 Mar Stellar Life Cycles; White Dwarfs, Neutron StarsCh. 12.3-12.4 & Ch. 13.1-13.2
24 Mar Black Holes; The Milky WayCh. 13.3-13.4 & Ch. 14
31 Mar Galaxies, AGN, QuasarsCh. 15
7 Apr Exam 2 Review; EXAM 2; Dark MatterCh. 16.1-16.2
14 Apr Structure and Expansion of the Universe; The Big BangCh. 16.3-16.4 & Ch. 17
21 Apr Life in the Universe; Final Exam ReviewCh. 18