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Astronomy 1101

From Planets to the Cosmos graphic

From Planets to the Cosmos
Autumn Semester 2015

Prof. Richard Pogge
MWF 12:40-1:35pm
0021 Lazenby Hall (1827 Neil Ave)


Astronomy 1101 is an overview of astronomy, from our solar system to the universe as a whole. It is a General Education (GE) Physical Science course in the Natural Science category. The goals of courses in this category are for students to understand the principles, theories, and methods of modern science, the relationship between science and technology, the implications of scientific discoveries, and the potential of science and technology to address problems of the contemporary world. By the end of this course, students should successfully be able to: Astronomy 1101 will meet these expected outcomes by covering three interconnected themes:
The Long Copernican Revolution
The nature of our solar system; planetary systems around other stars; the physics of gravity.

The Lives of Stars
The nature and evolution of stars; the origin of the elements; the physics of light.

The Cosmos
The nature and evolution of galaxies; evidence for the Big Bang; the structure of the universe on its largest scales.
This course attempts to convey a number of the facts that astronomers and astrophysicists have learned about these topics, to describe the outstanding scientific problems that are the focus of current research, to illustrate ways in which physical principles are used to understand the universe, and to show how scientific theories are developed and tested against observations. Among the questions that you should be able to answer by the end of the course are the following:
What is the architecture of our solar system, and how do we find other planetary systems?
What is a star? How do stars form and evolve?
What is a galaxy? How do galaxies form and evolve?
What is the evidence for dark matter and dark energy?
What is the Big Bang?
What evidence supports or challenges our explanations for the physical nature of stars, galaxies, and the cosmos?

Course Organization

Astronomy 1101 is a 4 credit hour course; each week, there will be 3 hours of lecture and one two-hour laboratory session. For Arts and Sciences students in a Bachelor of Arts program, this course meets the Arts and Sciences GE requirement of a natural sciences course that includes a laboratory component.


Lectures are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the regular class time. The lectures, along with the labs and homework assignments, are your primary source of course content. Exams are based on the lectures and the lab exercises; there is no assigned textbook for this course. As a courtesy to your fellow students, silence all electronic devices during lecture, and keep in mind that videos and animations on your laptop or tablet are distracting to those seated behind you.


The lab portion of Astronomy 1101 meets once each week for 2 hours. Attendance is mandatory. The primary goal of the labs is to reinforce the concepts covered in lecture and to introduce quantitative thinking. All labs start with a half-hour session in the OSU Slettebak Planetarium (5033 Smith Laboratory) that introduces the topic for the day's lab. The class then divides into smaller groups who accompany their TA to their assigned rooms in Smith Lab for the lab work proper.

Each student is expected to finish their in-class lab write-up before the end of the session; however, this write-up can be taken home to use with the homework assignment handed out at the end of each lab. The write-up and the homework will then be handed in at the start of the next lab session.

Take-Home Assignments

The take-home assignment handed out at the end of each lab session consists of questions that follow from the laboratory exercises and the class lectures. Collectively, these assignments will account for 20% of the final grade. Your lowest take-home score will be dropped in computing the final grade. Late assignments will be accepted only in case of legitimate, documented emergencies.

Course Information

We will be using OSU's Carmen learning management system for this course. This webpage provides enough basic info to help those not yet registered learn about the course but who cannot access the Carmen pages.

Copyright Statement

All of the written materials provided in these web pages are copyrighted by the course instructor, except as noted. In addition, some images and animations are also copyrighted by the instructor, while others are copyrighted by the original sources. These latter appear with the written permission of the copyright holders. Please read the Copyright Statement before you make copies of any of these web pages for any purpose. Use of these notes implies that you have read and understood the copyright statement.
Updated: 2015 August 12
Copyright © Richard W. Pogge. All Rights Reserved.