Astronomy 1102/1104 Introduction to the Solar System

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1 Sean Marshall Syllabus Page 1 of 5 Astronomy 1102/1104 Introduction to the Solar System Fall 2014 Uris Hall auditorium (G01) Lectures: MWF 11:15 AM to 12:05 PM Think of myriads of tiny bubbles, very sparsely scattered, rising through a vast black sea. We rule some of the bubbles. Of the waters we know nothing... from The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle Instructor: Sean Marshall Office Hours: Mondays 7:00 to 9:00 PM, Fridays 10:00 to 11:00 AM, or by appointment Space Sciences Building, room 111 Grading: Letter grade only 4 credits if taking labs (Astro 1104); 3 credits if not (Astro 1102) Course Description: Have you ever seen pictures of other planets and wondered what it would be like to visit them? Have you ever looked up at objects in the night sky and wanted to know how they work? People have been thinking about these questions throughout history, but now we can answer them! Since the beginning of the space age, we have made astonishing progress exploring our Solar System. Spacecraft have visited all eight planets, many moons, and some asteroids and comets. Worlds that were once known only as fuzzy points of light have been seen up close, giving us insights into how planetary systems form and evolve. In this course, we will discuss the various bodies in our Solar System and the processes that shape them. When possible, we will incorporate recent results from spacecraft missions and other studies. We will study the physics behind some topics in the news, including energy production, global warming, impact hazards, and the search for life beyond Earth. This is an introductory course, intended for students who are majoring in something other than astronomy and who are taking this course to fulfill a science requirement or to satisfy their curiosity. There are no prerequisites, other than high school level math. Note that the topics for this course are the Solar System and the objects within it, plus extrasolar planets. The rest of the universe (including stars, black holes, and galaxies) is studied in Astronomy 1101/1103.

2 Sean Marshall Syllabus Page 2 of 5 Objectives: By the end of this course, you will be able to: Understand the physical and geologic processes that shape our Solar System and the objects in it, particularly the Earth, and explain why not all celestial bodies are identical Compare and contrast the physical and geologic properties of each of the major bodies in the Solar System (and some minor ones) Appreciate the vast scale of the Solar System, by quantitatively comparing some of the relevant sizes and distances Compare and contrast our Solar System with others that have been discovered recently Describe how we know all of these things (explain the relevant observations and measurements) Impress people at parties with what you have learned in this class This course also fulfills the university curriculum's science requirement. Course Format: Each week, there will be three fifty-minute lectures and one fifty-minute discussion section. Discussion sessions are for you to ask questions. They will give you the opportunity to have more interactions with the instructor and with each other. Attendance and participation in discussions and group activities are important parts of the learning process. Active engagement in discussion sessions will help you learn and will help you do better on tests. Cell phones, laptops, ipads, etc. may NOT be used in section. Disruptions to an active learning process such as arriving late, text messaging, being on Facebook, or refusal to participate will not be tolerated, and any violators may lose participation points and/or be asked to leave for the day. Office hours give you the opportunity to get more individual instruction. If you are confused about something, you are strongly encouraged to come to office hours and ask questions about that topic. Labs, if you are taking them, will be every other week (on average). The course website lists the official lab dates and times. Each lab takes about three hours. You should get in the habit of checking the course website, which will have copies of the lecture slides and homework assignments, as well as some additional material to help you prepare for the tests. Any changes to the schedule will be posted on the course website. Prerequisites: This is an introductory course no other courses are required. However, please be aware that the homework and the tests will require you to do some math, and some unit conversions. The math for this course will be at the level of high school algebra. If you haven't done algebra lately, you may be a little rusty, but we will spend part of the first discussion section reviewing the math that you will need for this course.

3 Sean Marshall Syllabus Page 3 of 5 Course Requirements: Attendance is mandatory! Part of your grade comes from just showing up. If you don't come to class, you will have a very difficult time when you try to do the homework or take the exams. The textbook, by itself, does not have everything you need to know for this class. Out of class, you will be expected to do the weekly homework assignments and keep up with the assigned readings. There may be quizzes on the readings during some discussion sections. Note that a lot of your learning will take place while you are doing the homework and preparing for the exams. Homework must be handed in at the beginning of each discussion section, and it will be graded and returned within one week. Homework not handed in on time will be penalized 10% per day late. Assignments will not be accepted at all after the answer key has been posted, or after they have been corrected and returned to the class. Students with disabilities: Your access in this course is important. Please give me or your TA your Student Disability Services (SDS) accommodation letter early in the semester (well before the first prelim!), so that we have sufficient time to arrange your approved academic accommodations. If you need an immediate accommodation for equal access, please speak with me after class, or send an message to me and/or SDS If the need arises for additional accommodations during the semester, please contact SDS. The instructor reserves the right to excuse students for missing class or for handing in an assignment late in extenuating circumstances (e.g. illness, family emergency). However, if such circumstances arise, please notify me or your TA as soon as possible preferably before class, or before the assignment is due. All students are expected to follow the Cornell Code of Academic Integrity. You are encouraged to work with others on the homework assignments, but all work you submit must be your own. Copying is not only a violation of the code, but it's also easier to spot than you might think, and in the end, it short-circuits the entire point of the exercise, which is to get you thinking about difficult concepts so that you can understand them and apply them, including during exams. If asked, by the instructor, you should be able to explain how and why you did every step of your solution to a problem. Grading Sections: The section grade will be based on attendance, participation, and occasional quizzes. These are easy points (!), but you won't get them if you aren't in section. Students who arrive on time and participate in discussion will receive full participation marks. Participation is graded in order to give you an extra incentive to be involved in discussions, since asking questions is one of the best ways to learn the key concepts in this course.

4 Sean Marshall Syllabus Page 4 of 5 Grading Homework: There will be twelve homework assignments: ten standard assignments with shortanswer problems, plus the stargazing and Planet Walk activities. For the stargazing activity, you will come to Fuertes Observatory (on north campus) on a clear Friday night and look at stars and planets through a telescope, and you will get a crash course on how to navigate using the stars. The Sagan Planet Walk activity will have you explore a scale model of our Solar System, in downtown Ithaca, which illustrates the planets' relative sizes and distances. To allow for emergencies, and for students joining the class late, each student's lowest two homework grades will be dropped. Thus, only your best ten homework assignments will count toward your final grade. Homework problems are where you really learn the material, especially the relevant math. Doing your homework is the best way to be prepared for tests, since the homework and the tests will have similar questions. DO NOT think that you can skip the homeworks and make up for it by doing well on the tests I have never seen that happen, for any student. I encourage you to start each homework set early, so that you can come to office hours with questions if you are having trouble with something. Grading Tests: There will be three midterms (prelims) and one final exam. Test questions will be either multiple choice or short answer, and some will involve math. Calculators are NOT allowed for exams, but numbers on math problems will be chosen to make the arithmetic simple. I realize that tests can be stressful, but as an instructor, I need a way to assess how well you, alone, understand the material. I will give you plenty of opportunities to prepare before each test. In particular, students are strongly encouraged to work through the practice tests that will be posted a week before each prelim, and before the final exam. These will give you a good idea of what to expect on the actual tests. In order to make the tests less stressful, each student's lowest midterm grade will be dropped. (However, the final exam is mandatory for all students.) And, after each prelim, you will have the opportunity to earn a few extra points (on your prelim score) by redoing short answer problems that you answered incorrectly. This will reinforce the material and give you some advance preparation for the final exam. Component of final grade % of final grade for A1102 % of final grade for A1104 Sections (attendance, participation, quizzes) Best ten homework assignments 15% 12% 2% each (20% total) 1.6% each (16% total) Five lab assignments N/A 4% each (20% total) Best two prelim exams 20% each (40% total) 16% each (32% total) Final exam 25% 20%

5 Sean Marshall Syllabus Page 5 of 5 Tentative Schedule: Week of Lecture topics Discussion section activities August 25 September 1 September 8 September 15 September 22 September 29 Introduction and history Night sky (Labor Day) Gravity and orbits Time and seasons Tides Radiation and spectra Telescopes Radioactive dating Prelim #1 Survey of the Solar System Geologic processes Planetary system formation Extrasolar planets (No discussion section) Introduction Math review Astronomical sizes and distances Orbits Spectra Telescopes Radioactive dating Geologic processes Prelim #1 recap Planet formation October 6 Geology of Earth and the Moon Exoplanet observations October 13 October 20 October 27 November 3 November 10 November 17 November 24 December 1 (Fall break) Earth's atmosphere and climate Asteroids and impact hazard Meteorites Prelim #2 The Sun Mercury Venus Mars Planetary atmospheres and climate Giant (Jovian) planets Prelim #3 Moons of Jupiter Planetary rings Titan and other moons of Saturn Moons of Uranus and Neptune Comets (Thanksgiving) Pluto and beyond Extraterrestrial life Review Impact hazard Sources of energy Prelim #2 recap Planetary geology Comparing terrestrial planets Planetary atmospheres Mistakes in movies Prelim #3 recap Comparing outer moons (No discussion section) Drake equation Final review game

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