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«University of Alberta, Faculty of Science Department of Physics Fall 2016 ASTRO 120: Astronomy of the Solar System Fall 2016 ...»

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University of Alberta, Faculty of Science

Department of Physics

Fall 2016

ASTRO 120: Astronomy of the Solar System

Fall 2016

Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays 15:00 – 15:50

CCIS L2-200 (lower level 2, towards Quad)

Instructor: Gregory R. Sivakoff

Office: CCIS 2-113 (level 2, near western elevators)

E-mail: sivakoff@ualberta.ca

Office Hours: Tuesdays 14:30 – 15:30, Thursdays 13:30 – 14:30, or by appointment


Occasional cancellations, if any, will be announced on eClass

Website: https://eclass.srv.ualberta.ca/my/ Look for “ASTRO 120 Fall 2016 -Astronomy of the Solar System” under “My Courses.” The site will contain course announcements, links to “Mastering Astronomy” for assignments, lecture notes (after the lecture has been given), discussion forums, representative evaluative material for exams, etc.

Calendar Course Description:

RA 3.0 (fi 6) (either term, 3-0-0). The development of astronomy and astronomical techniques, including results obtained from the latest orbiting observatories. The origin, evolution and nature of the Earth, the other planets and non-planetary bodies will be discussed. Viewing experience will be available using the campus observatory. Prerequisites: Mathematics 30-1 and Physics 30.

Real Course Description:

This course focuses on exploring our knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics of the Solar System, as well as open questions in the field. We will discuss the origin, evolution and nature of the Earth, the other planets, and non-planetary bodies in our Solar System. Through this lens, we will develop understanding of astronomy and astronomical techniques, while considering both what is currently known and recent results D

obtained from the latest observatories and exploratory missions. Specific objectives include:

• Understand what astronomy and astronomical techniques reveal about the key components of our solar system.

• Increase appreciation of the sky through observing activities at the campus observatory.

• Develop familiarity with the physical forces that dominate in our solar system.

• Illuminate your place in the Solar System and the special qualities of Earth that make it amenable to human life.

• Enhance problem-solving skills through relatively simple problems.

• Explore how science works through the astronomy of the Solar System.

• Place our Solar System within the larger context of our Galaxy and the Universe.

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Course Prerequisites:

Pure Mathematics 30 or Mathematics 30-1 and Physics 30. Specifically, this course will require mathematics at the advanced algebra level, specifically the ability to isolate variables in equations. Students will also be expected to: (a) be familiar with the ability to model physical systems with basic physics equations;

(b) have previous exposure to the concepts of light and gravity; (c) substitute the values of variables into physics equations; and (d) manipulate units using dimensional analysis. Students who do not have the required prerequisites at the time of taking this course should not expect supplementary professorial tutoring from the instructor. Prerequisites may be waived with instructor approval: to do so, please obtain a “Waiver of Prerequisite” form and ask the instructor to sign it. Students must have either all prerequisites or a signed waiver to get credit for the course.

Required Course Textbook and Equipment:

1. Textbook: Here you have four basic choices.

FT • “The Cosmic Perspective, Eighth Edition,” by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit. This bound version of the textbook covers all the material that we will study in this course AND in ASTRO 122, which is taught in the Winter. If you plan on taking ASTRO 122 and want a bound book, or if you plan to sell your used book to a bookstore, this (most expensive) option is likely the best option for you.

• “The Cosmic Perspective, Books a la Carte Edition, Eighth Edition,” by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit. This looseleaf version of the textbook covers all the material that we will study in this course AND in ASTRO 122, which is taught in the Winter. While this is the most RA inexpensive (and most transportable physical) option, be forewarned that most bookstores are unlikely to buy back this edition once opened or used.

• “The Cosmic Perspective, The Solar System, Eighth Edition,” by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit. This bound version of the textbook is a “split” and contains only the material that we will cover in this course. If you are not intending to take ASTRO 122 and plan to sell your used book, this (intermediately expensive) option is likely the best option for you.

• “The Cosmic Perspective, Eighth Edition, eBook” – The MasteringAstronomy website offers an eBook if you do not care for paper copies of textbooks, and are ok with losing access to the book in a year. These are also bundled with new copies of the textbook from the book store. This D option is more expensive than the looseleaf version of the whole course.

Note that the previous edition of the book (7th) should be usable for most of the course but it is not “supported.” This means you will be responsible for any updated or corrected content from these editions. Weekly reading assignments will be given as chapters, which means that there will be no effort to cross-reference page numbers or figure numbers between editions. Historically, about 5% of the content does not overlap between the editions.

2. An iclicker remote: Versions “1,” “+,” and “2” of the remote will all work as you will only need to answer multiple choice questions. The former two options are cheaper, while the latter is more flexible for future courses that would require i-clickers that can answer alpha/numerical answers. The latter two options should be available in the University Bookstore.

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3. Access to the online homework system through MasteringAstronomy: There are two options:

• “Mastering Astronomy Student Access Kit” The “Mastering Astronomy Student Access Kit” was a no-cost addition to all of the textbook packages for this course in the University Bookstore.

If you purchased a textbook elsewhere that did not come with a “Mastering Astronomy Student Access Kit,” consider purchasing a kit (available at either www.masteringastronomy.com or the University Bookstore). This Student Access Kit gives you full access to not only the assignments via any internet connection, but also an electronic version of the textbook, and a range of tools to aid your understanding of course material. Students who took Astro 122 last year and purchased “The Cosmic Perspective, Seventh Edition” by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit and/or a “Mastering Astronomy Student Access Kit,” should e-mail the professor.

• Students who wish to opt out of the use of the fee-for-service online homework system “MasteringAstronomy” (where students pay the fee directly to the third party provider and have unlimited access), have the option to access the assignments (only) for no charge on computers FT housed in Cameron Library. You must e-mail your instructor if you wish to adopt this option.

Online Assignment Disclaimer:

Online assignments are a component of this course and are provided by a third-party company that runs “MasteringAstronomy.” Please be aware that this company will be storing assessment information that may be associated with you. To protect your personal information, you have been assigned an Anonymous ID in BearTracks. You must use this Anonymous ID as part of your username to identify yourself on these systems (if your Anonymous ID is “XXXXXXXXXX”, you must RA use “XXXXXXXXXX@ualberta.ca” as your username). You are not required to provide any additional personal information to these companies. To protect your privacy, you should also use the “Anonymous” for your Last Name and consider creating a University of Alberta alias to your e-mail that corresponds to your Anonymous ID for use on any third-party platform. This ensures that only the Anonymous ID, performance on the on-line homework, and the affiliation to the University of Alberta for this Anonymous ID is conveyed to the company. If you have any concerns about this, please contact the instructor of the course.

Optional Textbooks and Equipment:

1. A calculator.


Rules for Calculators in Tests & Exams:

Most calculators can be used in the Midterm Test and Final Exam in ASTRO 120. The calculator must be primarily defined as a calculator; this means you cannot use a cell phone, computer, tablet, or similar device. The calculator must not be able to communicate to other devices; this means it cannot have wi-fi, cellular, or infrared communication capacities. A non-programmable scientific calculator is ideal for the course. If you choose to use a programmable scientific calculator, the professor and teaching assistants that check your devices during your Midterm Test and Final Exam will ask you to prove that you have erased the entire memory of the device. If you spent more than $20 on the calculator, you’ve probably wasted money. If in doubt ask before using a calculator in an exam;

ignorance of these rules will not be an acceptable excuse. Using an illegal device on the Midterm Test or Final Exam will result in your case being forwarded to the associate dean with a minimum recommendation of 25% penalty of your earned grade on the test/exam. In addition, your illegal device or exam may be seized.

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∗∗ There is no possibility of a reexamination in this course as the Final Exam weight is 40%.

∗∗∗ Students must verify this date/time on BearTracks when the Final Exam Schedule is posted.

Grade Assignment:

Grades are assigned by taking the score for each course component and calculating a total course percentage score using the component weights given above. When this is done all components of the course are individually capped at 100%. The overall percentage is then used to assign course grades.

Grade boundaries will be decided based on a combination of historical student performances and the instructor’s expectations and judgment. Where possible natural grade boundaries will be used. The absolute percentage scores to secure a particular grade will vary from year to year because it is not possible to write exams with consistently identical difficulty levels. Historically, the median letter grade / mean GPA for this course is a B−/2.67. Note: Grades are unofficial until approved by the Department and Faculty offering the course.

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Ace Clause:

If your Final Exam score is greater than any of the following class components (Class Participation, Reading Assignments, Standard Assignments, and the Midterm Test), then the Final Exam score will be used in your average instead of that component. This replacement will not be applied to any category where disciplinary actions have been taken. Example: if you miss the Midterm Test and (technically) receive a 0 on it, your Final Exam score will be used in place of the missed midterm when calculating your final average. However, if you cheat on the Midterm Test and are given a reduced disciplinary grade, that disciplinary grade will not be replaced by your Final Exam. Important Warnings: My Midterm Test and Final Exam scores are typically 20% lower than course averages in other components, so do not rely on this clause.

Class Participation:

Participation on iclicker questions during class forms the participation grade. Before students answer most questions, they will have a short amount of time to discuss the question with their neighFT bour. If there is significant disagreement between the class on the submitted response, students may get a second chance to discuss and respond. These questions provide the instructor with instant feedback on whether students understand the concepts, allowing them to adapt their lecture. In addition, the best person to explain a concept is often someone who has just grasped the concept and thus understands the parts of the concept that were hardest to grasp. Although the four individual class participation grades with the lowest percentage marks will be dropped when calculating the contribution to the final grade, students are highly encouraged to attend every lecture.


Reading Assignments:

Students will be regularly assigned to read sections or chapters of the book that will be followed up by an online reading assignment that should be relatively quick and easy to do if the material is read carefully. It is important to do the reading because some topics may only be covered in the book and not in lectures. The online reading assignments (on “MasteringAstronomy”) help provide the instructor with feedback on what students understand. Topics emphasized in lecture are more likely to be emphasized on exams, but students are responsible for all assigned reading material.

Standard Assignments:

Online standard assignments (on “MasteringAstronomy”) have been designed to provide students D with feedback on the areas of the course they are having trouble understanding. They will require more time than the reading assignments to complete. The questions are intended to give students some feedback if they fall into common misconceptions and may be tried multiple times, with a small penalty, until they get it correct. Students are very strongly encouraged to keep trying until they correctly answer the questions, seeking help if required. Several sources of help are available: from peers, the instructor either during office hours or just after the lecture, etc. Do not be afraid to ask.

Long-term Assignments:

Students will be given six long-term assignments early in the semester. One of these assignments will be mandatory, and students will be required to complete three out of the five other assignments.

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