Professor Andrew Baker
Serin W309 (Busch Campus)
Undergraduate learning assistants
This course describes the foundations of astronomy and modern knowledge of our Solar System as well as planets around other stars. While astronomers know a tremendous amount about the universe, science is not just about a static set of facts, but also about the dynamic process of discovery. We will therefore consider science as a way of understanding the world we live in.
There are no college-level prerequisites for this course, but typical high school algebra and science preparation are assumed. The companion course, PHY 110, covers stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole. The two courses are complementary and independent; you can take one or both, and in either order. Note that PHY 109 and PHY 110 are intended for non-science majors. Students with college-level math and science credits should consider taking PHY 341/342 instead. Those courses cover much of the same material as PHY 109/110, but at a more advanced level.
The primary textbook for this course is
The Cosmic Perspective: Fundamentals, by Bennett, Donohue, Schneider, & Voit (ISBN 0-321-56704-8), published by Addison-Wesley/Pearson. While this book is self-contained, I will supplement it from time to time with additional material in the slides for my lectures. You will be responsible for material that appears in our book, and any clearly designated additional material in my slides, which I will make available after class in Sakai.
Student response system
In addition to the textbook, you are required to purchase an i>clicker+ "student response system" (these require two AAA batteries and are available at the campus bookstore). Each i>clicker+ unit has its own unique number; once you have purchased yours, please log into Sakai and register it using the i>clicker tab in the lower left corner of the page for this course. Note: clickers from other vendors that are sometimes used in other Rutgers classes will not work for this class.
The sequence of lectures and homework due dates is provisional; I will update them as needed during the course of the semester. I will also include in the schedule the dates of any public events that are relevant to the subject matter of this course (attendance at these events is strictly optional). Note that "T#" in the table below refers to the "Tools of Science" box in Chapter # of the textbook.
|1||Sep 3||Overview; Our Cosmic Address
no clicker questions
|2||Sep 5||An Insider's View of Science||3.2, 3.3, T1, T2, Appendix C|
|3||Sep 10||Understanding the Sky||2.1|
|4||Sep 12||Learning from the Sun and Moon||2.2||HW1|
|5||Sep 17||Greek and Renaissance Astronomy||2.3, 3.1|
|6||Sep 19||Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion||3.1 (Kepler)||HW2|
|7||Sep 24||Newton's Laws of Motion||3.1 (Newton), 3.3, T6|
|8||Sep 26||Gravity in Action||3.3, T6||HW3|
|9||Oct 1||Light and Heat||T5|
|10||Oct 3||Light and Atoms||T7, T8, T9||HW4|
|11||Oct 8||Energy, Density, and Pressure||T4|
no clicker questions
|13||Oct 15||MIDTERM EXAM (in class)
no clicker questions
|14||Oct 17||Scale and Content of the Solar System||1.3, 4.1|
|15||Oct 22||Age of the Solar System
Guest instructor: Professor Saurabh Jha
|16||Oct 24||Formation of the Solar System||4.2||HW6|
|17||Oct 29||Geology of the Earth and Moon||5.1|
|18||Oct 31||Terrestrial Planets: Geology||5.2||HW7|
|19||Nov 5||Terrestrial Planets: Atmospheres||5.1, 5.2, 5.3|
|20||Nov 7||Jovian Planets||6.1||HW8|
|21||Nov 12||Io, Europa, and Ganymede||6.1, 15.1, T15|
|22||Nov 14||Titan and Enceladus||6.1, 15.1, T15||HW9|
|23||Nov 19||Planetary Rings||6.1|
|24||Nov 21||Pluto and the Kuiper Belt||6.2||HW10|
|25||Nov 26||Comets and Asteroids
Friday class schedule; clicker questions count double
|26||Dec 3||Finding Exoplanets||7.1|
|27||Dec 5||Characterizing Exoplanets||7.2, 7.3, 15.2||HW11|
no clicker questions
|Dec 18||FINAL EXAM
8:00-11:00am; Scott Hall 123
Your course grade will be based on a weighted combination of four elements:
Homework will be assigned in Sakai on a roughly weekly basis, and will be due before the start of class on Friday. Assignments will consist of 10 multiple choice questions that assess your understanding of material covered by the previous week's lectures and assigned reading. Solutions will be posted after class on Friday. I will drop your one lowest homework score in computing your semester average.
Multiple-choice clicker questions will be scattered throughout most lectures, and are intended to assess your understanding of the material we are discussing in that class. If a clear majority of the class does not get the right answer to a particular question the first time around, I'll give you a chance to re-vote after discussing it with your neighbors. Your score for an individual question will be determined as follows:
The midterm exam will comprise 30 multiple-choice questions covering the material from lectures 2-11. To give you a sense of what sorts of questions to expect, I will provide a sample midterm exam ahead of time, which we will review during the last regular class period before the exam; note that some of the questions will require that you apply what you have learned in new contexts. A makeup exam will be scheduled for students who have excused absences (see below) on the day of the midterm exam.
The final exam will comprise 45 multiple-choice questions over the material covered in lectures 14-27. A few questions may rely on material from the first half of the course (e.g., it is probably best not to have forgotten how scientific progress occurs by the time you sit down to take the final exam!), but these will be limited in number. To give you a sense of what sorts of questions to expect, I will provide a sample final exam ahead of time, which we will review during the last regular class period of the semester; as for the midterm exam, some of the questions will require that you apply what you have learned in new contexts. A makeup exam will be scheduled for students who have excused absences (see below) on the day of the final exam.
There will be only one way to earn extra credit in this course. As described above, a perfect homework score for the semester would be a total of 100 points — 10 points per homework, times 10 homeworks (after dropping the lowest of 11 scores). You can add up to 26 points of extra credit to your final homework score by attending and actively participating in the weekly study groups that are led by our seven outstanding undergraduate learning assistants (LAs). If you sign up at least 1.5 hours in advance (on Sakai) and show up at a weekly session, you will get an extra +1 point, and if you participate actively (ask and answer questions, draw a diagram of an astronomical phenomenon like a lunar phase or a solar eclipse, etc.) then you will get a total of +2 points. You can gain points in this way once per week, up to 13 times over the course of the semester. This policy gives you the opportunity to add as much as 2.6 points to your final semester grade, but more importantly, it will give you a huge advantage in preparing for clicker questions and the two exams: the learning assistants, all of whom took and did well in this course last year, are your greatest allies in helping you master its subject matter. (For students whose schedules prevent them from attending any of the weekly study groups, I am willing to give equivalent extra credit on the basis of active engagement in one of my weekly office hours.)
|Elsie Lee||Monday||1:10-2:30pm||College Avenue||Kreeger 117|
|Isabel Kennedy||Monday||6:40-8:00pm||Livingston||Tillett 111|
|Ryan DeGregorio||Tuesday||8:10-9:30pm||Busch||ARC 326|
|Adrian Casper||Wednesday||1:10-2:30pm||College Avenue||Kreeger 117|
|Zac Csorny||Wednesday||2:50-4:10pm||College Avenue||Kreeger 117|
|Ragen Patel||Thursday||2:50-4:10pm||College Avenue||Kreeger 117|
|Anthony Xing||Thursday||5:00-6:20pm||Livingston||Tillett 111|
I take academic integrity concerns very seriously, and in the case of a possible violation I will initiate a disciplinary process without hesitation. Please familiarize yourself with the different types of violations and levels of sanctions, and note that more than one "non-separable" violation can lead to suspension or expulsion. A few relevant points of information for this course: