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Revision Date: 22-May-17

PHY-1110-VO01 - Introduction to Astronomy


Synonym: 155370
Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 05-23-2017 to 08-14-2017
Last day to drop without a grade: 06-12-2017 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 07-10-2017 - Refund Policy
Faculty: Lucy Schumer | View Faculty Credentials

This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration

Browse the Moodle Site for this class.

Course Description:

This course focuses on planets and the solar system, the evolution of stars, galaxies, and the formation of the universe. Concepts of astronomical distance, physics of light and gravity, and general relativity will be used to show how astronomers make their discoveries. Prerequisite: Basic Algebra.

Essential Objectives:

1. Apply the scientific method to create and test hypotheses as they relate to astronomy.
2. Describe the history and principal methods of astronomy.
3. Define key astronomical vocabulary and describe phenomenon such as "black holes" and "pulsars."
4. Describe the correct use of a small telescope to locate celestial objects.
5. Identify selected celestial objects.
6. Describe how various regions of the electromagnetic spectrum are used to extend our "vision" in astronomy.
7. Compare and contrast characteristics of stars, galaxies, planets, comets, meteorites, and other astronomical objects.
8. Discuss the origin of the universe using the "Big Bang Theory" as the principal cosmological model.
9. Explore the origin and evolution of stars.
10. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding, interpreting, evaluating, and applying quantitative data and information.

Additional Instructor Pre-Assignments/Notes/Comments:

If You Have Questions About Anything, contact me by email: Lucy.Schumer@ccv.edu

Getting Started in Introduction to Astronomy

This course begins on Tuesday May 23, 2017 and ends 12 weeks later on Monday August 14, 2017. Since the class is online there are no official holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July). I hope you will browse our Moodle course site and take a look at Weeks 1 and 2 to give you an idea of how the course is structured. If you have questions about this course, please ask!

Individual learning (with support from instructor and classmates of course) will occur via reading and answering review questions on the content in the textbook The Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals 2e by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider & Voit and from other resources (resources other than the textbook will be linked at Moodle.) Group learning will happen at the weekly discussion forums and will be based on a variety of resources including student posters, short readings, websites, and each other.

Required For This Course:

  • The Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals 2e by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider & Voit. You are responsible to have the textbook by the end of the first week of class and will need it to complete the first week's homework.

If You Have Questions About Course Content. . .

We will have a Questions forum open the entire semester. This is the place to post questions and offer answers about the course content. Students are sometimes reluctant to ask for help, but in my experience classmates are excellent resources and enjoy helping each other. If a question is not promptly answered by a fellow student, I will provide an answer. This way everyone in the class will benefit from both questions and answers. I check the Questions forum for new posts several times a day.

If You Have Questions About Grades, Schedule, Computer Issues Etc. . .

Please contact me via email Lucy.Schumer@ccv.edu or the Message My Teacher box (located in the right column of information at our Moodle classroom) with questions about non-content related things at any time. Messages go directly to my email, Lucy.Schumer@ccv.edu, and I check in to both our Moodle classroom and email several times daily.

Here Are My Course Expectations:

  • Participate in Class Introductions so I will know a bit about you. How familiar are you with college, online classes, science, or Moodle?
  • Set Goals for yourself for this class regarding how you will manage your time and study the material. Goals put you in charge of your learning in this class.
  • Complete the Academic Honesty exercise to be sure you know what constitutes academic honesty to avoid having issues arise later.
  • Recognize that in this online class you are responsible to provide evidence of what you are learning in the form of written work. This means the more you write in answer to a question, the more research you share on your poster, and the more you respond to classmates in the discussions the better. Writing is a skill that must be practiced constantly and I expect my students to write quite a bit for me each week in those three venues.
  • I provide detailed comments on your weekly work and I expect you to read and learn from them. When your answer to a question is only partly correct I provide a complete and correct answer so you can compare your answer with mine to get a sense for what I consider a complete and correct answer. You can also see my comments on your poster for ideas of how to improve.
  • Make full use of your textbook and assigned readings. They should be your primary resource for learning each week. Do not fall into the trap of typing the review questions into a search engine and then using the results to find a reasonable sounding answer. This method might work for finding facts but it is not a way to learn concepts in a college level science class. The value of the textbook is that it explains things in a complete, organized  and nuanced way, it is peer-reviewed, and it is written by experts in the field. Take advantage of having experts explain things to you.
  • There will be concepts you do not understand the first time around. Please ask me for help at the Questions forum and/or look online to reputable websites (like NASA) for another explanation.
  • Before you submit your answers to the review questions each week, read both question and your answer over carefully to be sure you have answered all parts of each question completely and that you have done so in grammatically correct, complete sentences.
  • Post to the discussion forum on three separate days each week for a total of three posts a week just as you would attend a regular, on the ground lecture class three times a week. Most students post to the discussion more than this and nearly everyone meets this minimum requirement each week. 
  • Once you get to the discussion forum, follow the directions; usually you will be reading classmates' posters and asking them thoughtful questions about the posters - and responding to the questions asked of you by your classmates about your posters. The posters are an opportunity for you to practice using the online Hartness Library for researching a topic of your choice from a pretty long list and to extend your learning beyond the textbook. The posters are a situation where you do not get to produce some work and be done with it; instead you are expected to re-engage with your work by answering questions about it and deepening your understanding and that of your classmates. You are expected to read every post at the discussion forum even if you have completed your posts for the week. Some weeks we have a discussion forum based on an issue with scientific, social and political implications. These discussions are an opportunity for you to look at a problem from a variety of approaches and to return to the discussion to see responses evolve as the week went on. In discussions like this every student's opinions are important.
  • Note that any time you cite factual material in the discussion forum you have to include the source of the material as a live link. As a result you may need to do a bit of research before posting your answers in the discussion.
  • The online community we create in class depends on every student to share their insights and perspective. We are all in this together;  when a student is in and out of the online community only very briefly and no one is really sure who he/she is, it is disconcerting and distracts from the discussion.
  • There is no upper limit to what you can learn in this class. Some folks use all their time and energy to learn the basic material but others do a lot of extra research and find themselves with a pretty decent background in astronomy by the end of the semester.  I am proud of all my students and I understand that everyone has a life beyond the online classroom. Folks usually feel pretty proud of their achievements when they are done with my class.
  • Do you know how to get to your CCV email? You are expected to check it daily. I will use your CCV email or Messages (see the Messages block at Moodle) to contact you. When I contact you, I expect you to respond within 24 hours.

Methods:

You will be evaluated in Introduction to Astronomy based on the following:

  • Weekly work (reading and 8-12 review questions from textbook; video lectures, articles and a one-page astronomy poster): 60% of course grade
  • Weekly discussion forums: 20% of grade
  • Two quizzes: 20% of course grade


Weekly Work

Written work is due by the end of each Monday during the semester beginning on Monday May 29, 2017 and is worth 60% of your grade.  You are expected to use complete sentences and correct spelling and grammar in all written work. You should submit your work to our Moodle course site. Work sent to my email address will not be graded or considered to be submitted on time.

Review Questions: include the  review questions and the page numbers where you found the answer with your written answers. Answer the questions as completely as you can. Your answers should be in complete, grammatically correct sentences. There should be no spelling errors. Before you submit your work, read over your answers and ask yourself, "Am I answering the question that was asked? Is my answer complete (some questions contain two or more parts)? If my spouse/child/friend asked me this question, would they understand my answer?" If you can answer "yes" to these questions, chances are your answer will be correct or nearly so. If the answer involves math, you may write it out by hand, scan your work, and submit it as a .pdf file.

There are typically 8-12 review questions to answer each week, for a total of 80-120 points. Your written answers will vary in length but all questions are valued the same (unless noted). Note that your grade is based on the total number of questions answered over the course of the semester.

Astronomy Poster: this is a one-page poster with sources on a second page that teaches and tells an astronomy story. You will have a couple of choices of topics for your poster each week. Your poster will consist of a title, text, and images or figures with captions. The goal of the poster is to present a short, educational narrative on a topic to share with your classmates. The astronomy poster is worth 30 points. The text portion of the astronomy poster is a place where academic honesty is of utmost importance. As a result the text portion of each astronomy poster will be submitted to TurnItIn, software designed to find similarities between student work and written material on the internet. You will be able to see an originality report and edit your work before final submission.

Weekly Discussion Forums

The weekly discussion forums are used to create a community of online learners. Most weeks the discussion is based on comments and questions on the astronomy posters. A few weeks is is based on papers or internet research, You are expected to participate in these discussions in a substantive way a minimum of 3 times on different days each week. For example you could post to the discussion on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Your participation in the weekly discussion forums is worth 20% of your course grade. Please use correct grammar and spelling and refrain from using typical texting abbreviations in all posts. Our weekly discussion forums will last one week each, from Tuesday through the following Monday.

It is imperative to remember there is a human being behind each question or comment posted in the weekly discussion forums. I expect that we will all treat each other with the kindness and respect that we would in a classroom or face-to-face setting. Disagreement is fine, but there is a zero tolerance policy for teasing, inappropriate language, rudeness and disrespect. Please note: you have an hour to modify your  responses to the discussion forums before they become public.

Quizzes

There will be two quizzes in the course, in Weeks 6 and 12. The quizzes will have a time limit and only one attempt is allowed. These quizzes will include the appropriate sections of the textbook, assigned articles and/or videos and the discussion forums. There is no final exam in this course. The quizzes are worth a total of 20% of your course grade.

Extra Credit

There will be review questions available for extra credit most weeks. They will be mostly math problems using astronomical concepts, but a few will be short researched-based questions. Look for these at the end of each week's review questions. If you have taken Algebra 1 or its equivalent, you will be all set to tackle the extra credit questions.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Weekly work: 60% of course grade
  • Weekly discussion forums: 20% of course grade
  • Three tests: 20% of course grade

To do well in this class you should:

  • have the textbook in hand (or on your computer) the first week of class
  • plan to do the assigned reading each week and take notes on it
  • know how to use Word, Open Office or Google Docs to make and save documents
  • submit 12 complete assignments, take both quizzes, and participate 3 times weekly on different days in the forum discussions
  • submit assignments and quizzes on time
  • understand that your written work is evidence of how much you are learning and take the time to make sure your work reflects this learning
  • ask questions right away when you don't understand something
  • have reliable 24/7 access to the internet

If you:

  • submit extra credit work, the extra points earned will be added to your weekly work grade
  • submit fewer than 10 weekly assignments, your course grade will be reduced by one letter grade
  • participate in the discussion in fewer than 10 weeks, your final grade will be reduced by one letter grade
  • spend 10+ hours a week on this class, you are spending the right amount of time.

Grading Criteria:

Letter grades will normally be assigned as follows:
90-100 A range
80-89 B range
70-79 C range
60-69 D range
less than 60 is an F
70 or above is a P
69 and below is an NP

Incompletes may be granted only in extraordinary circumstances when a student has done more than 50% of the course work with a grade of C or better but is unable to complete the course due to an emergency situation. In this case instructor and student will consult with the student's adviser and come up with a plan for completing the additional work. In all cases additional work must be completed within 7 weeks of the end of the course.

Textbooks:

Summer 2017 textbook data will be available on April 1. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be for this course only. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks.

The Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals, ISBN: 9780133889567, Pearson   $106.34

Attendance Policy:

Students are expected to submit all 12 weekly assignments and 2 quizzes on time and participate a minimum of 3 times each week on different days in the discussion forums. There is a Late Work Policy which allows for one weekly assignment during the summer to be submitted one week late with no penalty. This policy doesn't apply to discussion forums, quizzes, or to the last week of class when I need all assignments for grading. You are responsible for letting me know if/when you want to use the late work policy. If you want to be marked as present for the official CCV daily attendance, you must post at least once to the discussion forum by Sunday noon of each week.

Contact Faculty:

Email: Lucy Schumer
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Anya Schwartz

Syllabus:

'Week 1: A Modern View of the Universe' and Understanding the Sky'

Discover Earth's place in the Universe, the size of the Universe and the units astronomers use to measure distance, a brief history of the Universe, the age of the Universe compared to a human lifetime, and how planets are defined. Discover what causes the seasons and why the constellations change throughout the year, why the Moon has phases, what causes eclipses, and why the ancient Greeks believed in an Earth-centered solar system.

  • Read Chapter 1 A Modern View of the Universe and Chapter 2 Understanding the Sky  from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 1 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 1 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 2: Changes in Our Perspective

Discover how the Greeks explained planetary motion, how the Copernican revolution changed our view of the Universe, what constitutes science vs. non science, what is a scientific theory, and the theory of gravity and how it describes the force of gravity.

  • Read Chapter 3 Changes in Our Perspective from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al 
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 2 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 2 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 3: Origin of the Solar System

Discover what the solar system looks like, what features give us clues about how it formed, the theory that best explains how it formed and how that theory accounts for planetary features, moons, and small bodies, and how we determine the age of the Earth and the solar system.

  • Read Chapter 4 Origin of the Solar System from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al 
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 3 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 3 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
'Week 4: Terrestrial Worlds and the Outer Solar System'

Discover what determines the level of geological activity on the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), how an atmosphere affects conditions for life, why the terrestrial planets turned out so differently, what are the unique features of Earth that are important for life, and what is the evidence for global warming. Discover what the Jovian planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are like and why Jovian moons are so geologically active, why asteroids and comets are grouped into three distinct regions, whether these small bodies pose a threat to Earth, and whether an impact killed the dinosaurs.

  • Read Chapter 5 Terrestrial Worlds and Chapter 6 The Outer Solar System from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 4 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 4 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 5: Planets Around Other Stars

Discover why it is difficult to detect planets around stars other than the Sun and how we detect these planets, what we have learned from these extrasolar planets, how these planets compare with ours in our solar system, and whether we need to modify our theory of solar system formation.

  • Read Chapter 7 Planets Around Other Stars from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al plus an article
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 5 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 5 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 6: The Sun and Other Stars; Quiz on Weeks 1-6

Discover what the Sun is like, how energy escapes from the Sun, how we measure the properties of stars, what patterns we find in the properties of stars, and how we discovered these patterns.

  • Read Chapter 8 The Sun and Other Stars from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al plus an article
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 6 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 6 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
  • Take Quiz on Weeks 1-6.
Week 7: Stellar Lives and the Bizarre Stellar Graveyard

Discover why stars shine so steadily, why a star's properties depend on its mass, what will happen when our Sun runs out of fuel, how high-mass stars end their lives, and what star clusters reveal about the lives of stars. Discover what are white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes, what happens to space and time near a black hole, and how we know black holes really exist.

  • Read Chapter 9 Stellar Lives and Chapter 10 The Bizarre Stellar Graveyard from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 7 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 7 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 8: Galaxies

Discover what our Milky Way galaxy looks like and how it formed, the major types of galaxies and why they differ, and what is the energy source for quasars.

  • Read Chapter 11 Galaxies from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al plus an article
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 8 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 8 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 9: Galaxy Distances and Hubble's Law

Discover how we measure distances to galaxies, what is Hubble's Law, in what sense is the Universe expanding, how distance measurements tell us the age of the Universe, and what we see when we look back through time.

  • Read Chapter 12 Galaxy Distances and Hubble's Law from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 9 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 9 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 10: The Early Universe

Discover what it was like in the early Universe and how the Universe changed with time, how we observe the radiation left over from the Big Bang, how abundances of elements support the Big Bang theory, and whether the Universe underwent an early episode of inflation.

  • Read Chapter 13 The Early Universe from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 10 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 10 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
Week 11: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Discover the evidence for dark matter and what it might be made of, the role of dark matter in structure formation of the universe, whether the universe will keep on expanding forever, and the evidence for dark energy.

 

  • Read Chapter 14 Dark Matter and Dark Energy from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al plus an article
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 11 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 11 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
'Week 12: Life in the Universe and Quiz on Weeks 7-12'

Learn what is necessary for life on Earth, whether there could be life elsewhere in the solar system, where we might find habitable planets, whether there is intelligent life beyond Earth, and the evidence for evolution of life on Earth.

  • Read Chapter 15 Life in the Universe from Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals by Bennett et al
  • Complete and submit the Assignment for Week 12 - which includes written work as well as visiting the Forum for Week 12 in our Moodle classroom and following directions posted there.
  • Take Quiz on Weeks 7-12.

Please note: In order to receive accommodations for disabilities in this course, students must make an appointment to see the Americans with Disabilities Coordinator in their site and bring documentation with them.

Academic Honesty: CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.

Course description details subject to change. Please refer to this document frequently.

To check on space availability, choose Search for Classes.


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