Astronomy 161: Review Guide for Final Exam


The final exam will take place on Wednesday, June 8, 11:30 am - 1:18 pm, in our regular classroom. It will consist of 60-80 multiple choice questions. You may bring your page of notes from the midterm and an additional page (both sides) of handwritten notes. You may bring a calculator, but you are unlikely to need it. Please bring a number 2 pencil.

I do not plan to have a makeup final exam, so don't miss it. If some unavoidable crisis will prevent you making it to the final, you must let me know ahead of time by e-mail ( or phone (292-6543) in order to be allowed to take a makeup.

Review Sessions

There will be two optional, question and answer review sessions, both with David Weinberg:
Monday, June 6, 4:30-5:30 pm, 4054 McPherson Lab
Tuesday, June 7, 5:00-6:00 pm, 4054 McPherson Lab


The final will cover material from Lecture 9, Universal Gravity Part I, through the end of the course, Lecture 21. Of course this material builds on material from the first part of the course, but only topics that came up during these lectures will appear on the final. The discussion of gravity draws heavily on Newton's laws of motion (Lecture 8), so you should review that lecture as well. I went very quickly through two topics at the end of Lecture 20: the Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt. I therefore will not ask questions on those aspects of these topics that were covered only in Lecture 20. However, there is some discussion of comets and asteroids in other lectures, and that material remains fair game.

As you think about planets, you should pay attention to how we learn about them (what kinds of experiments and observations allow us to determine different properties?) in addition to what we have learned, and you should think about the planets and moons in comparison to each other rather than one at a time.

The reading that goes with this section of the course is chapters 4 - 17 (starting with section 4-6, and including only sections 17-7 and 17-8 from chapter 17). We did not cover planets in nearly as much detail as the book does; the exam will cover only material that came up in class.

As usual, my review advice is to be up to date with the reading, to go through the lecture notes and try to recap for yourself what was the main point of each subsection, and to reinforce this latter exercise by formulating in your head the answers to the key questions that introduce each lecture. Reviewing the in-class questions will also be valuable, since these usually focus on important topics and I sometimes model exam questions on the in-class questions.

For reviewing with the text book, the most valuable thing will be to re-read chapters 7 and 8, which give an overview of the solar system that should help tie together many of the things we have discussed in the last few weeks. If you have more time, you could review sections 4-6 to 4-8 if you need reminders about gravity, sections 5-1 to 5-3 and 5-5 to 5-7 if you need reminders about light and atoms, and sections 6-1 to 6-4 if you need reminders about telescopes. Chapters 9 and 10 (on the Earth and the Moon) are probably the most valuable of the remaining chapters, since we covered these topics in roughly the same level of detail as the book.


The equations you should know and understand for the final are:

You should also know that the number of photons collected in astronomical observation is proportional to the exposure time multiplied by the area (not diameter) of the primary mirror/lens.
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Updated: 2005 May 31[dhw]