Astronomy and Cosmology (Ph 110, Section 2)
Spring 2015


Lecturer: Prof. Jack Hughes, Busch Campus, Serin-307, Tel: (848)445-8878, e-mail: jph "at"

Textbook: Required. The Cosmic Perspective: Fundamentals by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit (Publisher: Addison-Wesley/Pearson, IBSN: 0-321-56704-8). Available from the bookstore in either print or e-book format (your choice). Also 1 copy on reserve at the SERC Reading Room on Busch campus. Optional: The Pearson on-line "MasteringAstronomy" website. This site contains lots of useful learning aids that many students will find useful.

iclickers: Required. You must register your iclicker even if you've had it for years, even if you registered it last semester. Go to the sakai course site, navigate to the i>clicker tab and enter your iclicker number. If the ID on your iclicker remote has rubbed off, you may be able to recover the number using this site: If that doesn't work, please come up to the front of the lecture hall after class with your iclicker and we will recover the number for you.

Overview: In this course we shall study the structure and evolution of stars, the properties of galaxies, and the past, present, and future of the Universe. The companion course, Ph 109 (taught this semester by Prof. Sellwood) covers the historical foundations of Astronomy, the tools and techniques used by modern astronomers, the constituents of our solar system, and the processes by which it formed. There are no college-level prerequisites for either course, but typical high school algebra and science preparation is assumed.

Format: The course consists of 2 lectures each week on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:40PM to 8:00PM in the Physics Lecture Hall (PHL), Busch Campus.

Assessment: Grades will be determined based on three elements weighted equally: (1) in class iclicker quizes, (2) a midterm exam, and (3) a cumulative final exam. All quizes and exams will be closed-book format and will consist of multiple-choice questions. Iclicker quizes will be given on material that has been presented in class or covered in the assigned reading. Both exams will be computer-graded; be sure to bring a number 2 pencil. There will be a make-up final for students with a class conflict, a medical/family emergency, or other serious and unforeseen event. In all cases, documentation (your class schedule, a doctor's note, etc.) must be provided to take the make-up exam.

Exam Schedule:

Study Groups: We are fortunate to have two undergraduate learning assistants (Mr. Adrian Casper and Ms. Elsie Lee) available for this course, each of whom will run two weekly study groups:

Attendance and active participation in study groups will allow students to gain extra credit. 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. Obtain a minimum of 20 points this way throughout the semester and you will gain extra credit equal to a perfect score on an iclicker quiz. More importantly, participating in study group 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.)

Observing: Viewing sessions using the telescopes located on the roof of the Physics & Astronomy Building (Busch campus) are held on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month when the sky is clear, beginning at 8 pm or 1 hour after sunset, whichever is later. Attendance at these observing sessions is optional. For more information, see:

How to succeed in this class:

The address of this page is

Please send any comments to Jack Hughes, jph "at"

Revised January 20, 2015