Astronomy 161

Introduction to Solar System Astronomy

Autumn Quarter 2009

MWF 1:00pm - 2:18pm

Stillman 100

Instructor: Prof. Krzysztof Stanek
Office: 4003 McPherson Lab (fourth floor), 140 W. 18th Ave.
Office Hours: MWF 2:30 - 4:00 pm, or by appointment
Phone: 292-3433

TA: Karen Mogren
Office: 4029 McPherson Lab, 140 W. 18th Ave.
Office Hours: Tue 4:30 - 6:00 pm, Thu 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm, or by appointment
Phone: 292-6893

Required Text: 21st Century Astronomy (second edition),
by Jeff Hester, David Burstein, George Blumenthal, Ronald Greeley, Bradford Smith, Howard Voss (W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 2007)

Exams & Grading


There will be three in-class midterms and a final exam. In-class midterms will cover the material in the lectures and readings since the previous midterm; the final examination will be comprehensive. The in-class midterms have been scheduled for the three days listed below. Please mark your calendars with these dates. All exams will be closed-book, closed-notes, multiple-choice tests.

Grading Policy

The midterm exams will each contribute 20% of your course grade (for a total of 60%); the final exam will contribute 40%.

Makeup Policy

Makeup midterms will be given only under extraordinary circumstances, such as severe illness or a death in the immediate family. If you know in advance that you will be missing a midterm, please contact the professor to arrange an alternate time for you to take the midterm.

The final must be taken by all students. If you miss the final, you will automatically receive a grade of incomplete (I) that will have to be made up by a written exam during winter quarter.

Final Exam

Monday, December 7, 11:30 am - 1:18 pm

The final examination is scheduled for Monday, December 7, from 11:30am until 1:18pm in SH 0100 (the same room as lectures). The final will be comprehensive, covering all lectures and assigned readings, and of the same format as the in-class midterms (only longer). It is worth 40% of the final grade. No makeup final will be offered.

Lecture & Reading Schedule (will be extended as the year progresses)

Week 1:
Wednesday, Sept 23: Introduction (Chapter 1)
Friday, Sept 25: Celestial Sphere (Sections 2-1 through 2-2)

Week 2:
Monday, Sept 28: Seasons & Calendars (Section 2-3)
Wednesday, Sept 30: Moon Phases & Eclipses (Sections 2-4 through 2-5)
Friday, Oct 2: Ptolemy to Copernicus (Class Notes)

Week 3:
Monday, Oct 5: Tycho, Kepler, & Galileo (Sections 3-1 through 3-2)
Wednesday, Oct 7: Newton's Laws (Section 3-3)
Friday, Oct 9: MIDTERM EXAM #1

Week 4:
Monday, Oct 12: Applying Newton's Laws (Sections 3-4 through 3-5)
Wednesday, Oct 14: Light (Sections 4-1 through 4-3)
Friday, Oct 16: Spectra (Sections 4-4 through 4-6)

Week 5:
Monday, Oct 19: Telescopes (Chapter 5)
Wednesday, Oct 21: Solar System Survey (Class notes)
Friday, Oct 23: Origin of the Solar System (Chapter 6)

Week 6:
Monday, Oct 26: Planets Around Other Stars (Section 6-6)
Wednesday, Oct 28: The Earth (Chapter 7)
Friday, Oct 30: MIDTERM EXAM #2

Week 7:
Monday, Nov 2: Earth's Atmosphere (Section 8-1 through 8-3)
Wednesday, Nov 4: The Moon (Class notes; Chapter 7)
Friday, Nov 6: Mercury & Venus (Class notes; Chapter 7, 8)

Week 8:
Monday, Nov 5: Mars (Class Notes; Chapter 7, 8)
Wednesday, Nov 7: NO CLASS
Friday, Nov 9: Jupiter & Saturn (Class Notes; Chapter 9)

Exam Schedule

Midterm 1: Friday, October 9, in class
Midterm 2: Friday, October 30, in class
Midterm 3: Friday, November 20, in class
Final Exam: Monday, December 7, 11:30am - 1:18pm, SH 0100

Students with Disabilities

Any student who feels that he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Professor to discuss their specific needs. We will work with the Office of Disability Services to develop the appropriate strategies. Students with disabilities who have not previously contacted ODS are encouraged to do so in advance by visiting the ODS website and requesting an appointment.

Academic Misconduct

All OSU instructors are required to report suspected cases of academic misconduct to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. See the University's Code of Student Conduct for details. The most common forms of misconduct in classes like this are copying from another student's exam or homework assignment. All cases will be investigated following University guidelines.

Classroom Etiquette

To help establish and maintain a courteous, distraction-free learning environment in our classroom, I ask that all students please observe the following rules of behavior during lectures and exams:
Use of cell phones and pagers is prohibited.
This includes using cell phones for instant messaging, email, web, pictures, etc. When in class, all cell phones and pagers must be turned off (do not simply put them into stand-by "silent ring" modes).

Use of Wireless Laptops or other networked devices is prohibited.
Surfing the web, instant messaging, reading email or typing on a keyboard during class is extremely distracting to those around you. When in class, all laptop computers and other networked devices (especially devices like PDAs and Blackberries that can be used for 2-way communications, email, IM, etc.) must be turned off and put away. Exceptions will be made for assistive technologies for the vision- or hearing-impaired in consultation with the professor.

Please do not start packing up until class is completely over.
Nothing is more rude or distracting than the noise of notebooks closing and jackets and backpacks rustling while the professor is trying to finish up. I'll be clear when we're done, so please wait until I get to the end.

If you come late or have to leave early, please sit near the back of the room.
This will make your late arrival or early departure less disruptive for your fellow students.

No conversing during lectures.
A curious feature of a round room like Stillman 100 is that the sounds of a conversation at the back of the room get reflected around and are audible to the professor and most of the front row. Please respect the wishes of your fellow students to listen to the lecture, and do not carry on conversations during class.
A little courtesy and common sense can go a long way. Thank you for your cooperation.

GEC Goals and Objectives

Astronomy 161 is a General Education Curriculum (GEC) Physical Science course in the Natural Science category. The goals for this course include: Learning Objectives:

In Astronomy 161, the specific learning objectives to achieve these course goals are:

Return to: [ Astronomy 161 Main Page | Astronomy Department home page ]
Prof. Kris Stanek (

Updated: Wed Sep 23 17:16:50 EDT 2009

Week 7:
Monday, Oct 29: Earth's Atmosphere (Section 8-1 through 8-3)
Wednesday, Oct 31: The Moon (Class notes; Chapter 7)
Friday, Nov 2: Mercury (Class notes; Chapter 7, 8)

Week 8:
Monday, Nov 5: Venus (Class Notes; Chapter 7, 8)
Wednesday, Nov 7: Mars (Class Notes; Chapter 7, 8()
Friday, Nov 9: Jupiter & Saturn (Class Notes; Chapter 9)

Week 9:
Monday, Nov 12: NO CLASS
Wednesday, Nov 14: Moons of Jupiter & Saturn (Class Notes; Chapter 11)
Friday, Nov 16: MIDTERM EXAM