I strongly recommend that the first time you read this, you read the whole syllabus. Later on you can use the link table immediately below to refer to any particular topic.
The material below assumes you are taking this class because you need to fulfill a Physical Science requirement, and need to receive a passing grade (and credit) for the class. If you are only taking the class because you would like to learn more about astronomy
, and don't care whether you pass the exams, you can ignore much of what follows, but you will get far more out of the class if you pay attention to the study suggestions on this site.
I have recently started writing fiction, and have published a collection of short stories (Short Shorts
), and two novels, the historical romance Two Pigs and a Chicken
and its sequel, The Maiden All Forlorn
. None of these, nor any of the other novels and short stories I am working on, have anything to do with this class, so I will not discuss them in class save during a break, when I am willing to answer questions about almost any topic; but when there is news about one of my works, it is noted on this site for the benefit of those who are interested in such news. If you enjoy reading fiction, you may find such notes interesting, but otherwise you can safely ignore them, as they will not affect this class or your grade in any way.
Business cards are available to help you find my website. There are usually some posted at the bottom of the astronomy bulletin board, opposite D326, and you are welcome to take cards for yourself or for acquaintances you think might be interested in either side of the card.
The astronomy (left) and fiction (right) sides of my business card.
Almost all college classes have a required (or strongly recommended) textbook. If you want to do well in any class, you should buy a copy of the required text and start reading it as soon and as often as possible. Most people have to read a given passage at least three times to thoroughly understand it (this is a point often made in classes about improving your memory). Use whatever schedule of lectures and/or reading assignments that your instructor gives you as a guide to what parts of the text you must read, and read them (1) before they are covered in class, so the lectures are easier to follow, (2) immediately after they are covered in class, to see what was covered in the lecture that was not covered in the text (and vice-versa), and (3) when you are actively studying for a specific exam.
Course Content / Satisfying Science Requirements
This course covers all of stellar and solar system astronomy, including the origin and evolution of the solar system, the stars, and the Universe.
When taken in conjunction with the Astronomy 1L lab class, this course satisfies a lab science requirement. If taken by itself, it satisfies a science requirement, but not a lab science requirement. If you need to satisfy a lab science requirement, you can take the lab and lecture at the same time, or in different semesters. (Note: The lab class is not offered during the Summer.) For more information about the relationship between the two courses, refer to General Astronomy Course Information
This course may be taken on a pass/nopass (P/NP) basis; in fact, for most students, that is the most appropriate way to take the class.
To take the class P/NP, go to Administration and fill out the appropriate paperwork on or before the deadline to do so. If you file for P/NP grading, a C-minus or better grade is recorded as a Pass and provides 3 units credit for taking the class, while a D-plus or worse grade is recorded as a NoPass and provides no credit for taking the class; either way, the grade does not affect your GPA. P/NP grades should be transferable to all other colleges with the same GPA basis (or lack of it) as at LBCC.
Although auditing classes is allowed in theory, it is actually strongly discouraged for financial reasons (the school receives no state funds for students who audit classes). For that reason most instructors do not allow students to audit their classes. You must register for a class if you want to attend class meetings. However, you can effectively audit classes by simply withdrawing from the class just before the drop deadline. You would then receive a W for the class, which for most purposes is the same as never taking the class at all.
Registering for the Class
You must be officially enrolled in the class to receive a grade or credit for the class. Any work received from a student who is not officially registered and listed on the class rollbook will be discarded without being graded.
The College Schedule of Classes contains a long discussion of what is considered reasonable and proper student behavior. Namely, everyone in the class is expected to behave as an adult, and to treat the instructor and their fellow students with respect. If your behavior is disruptive, you will be asked to modify it. Failure to do so may subject you to penalties up to and including expulsion from the College (see Long Beach City College Student Policies
for more information). The following suggestions, if followed, should provide an environment conducive to learning without being overly restrictive.
If you come in late or leave early, you should sit as close to the entry as possible, and be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible on your way in or out, to minimize class disruption. During full-dome planetarium presentations, the entry doors may be closed. If you arrive late and the door is closed, just pull on the handle (it doesn't turn), and wait behind the blackout curtains until your eyes have adjusted to the darkness.
All cell phones and other electronic devices should be turned off or put into silent mode during class time. If you are expecting an emergency call, sit near the entry and follow the rules for leaving class early, as noted above.
Absolute darkness is required during planetarium presentations. This means that all laptops and other devices which produce any light must be closed or turned off.
The entry doors may also be closed and the blackout curtains drawn; but the entry door is left unlocked during class, even when closed.
No food or drink are allowed in the planetarium classroom, save for bottled water. Also, students are expected to clear the area near their seat when they leave, whether any trash they find is theirs, or not.
While I am lecturing, or other students are asking questions, you are expected to pay attention. If you wish to visit with friends, you should do so before or after class, out of consideration for those students who are trying to pay attention. I do not want to discourage occasional comments, or natural reactions (e.g., laughter, oohs and aahs, or groans) to the material I am discussing; but disruptive chattering will not be tolerated.
Despite my comments on pointless chatter, I welcome questions about the material I am discussing. You may raise your hand at any time, and if I do not notice that you have done so, verbally call yourself to my attention. The only exception to this is that occasionally, one person monopolizes the class discussion to the point where other students feel their needs are being ignored. As a result, I may occasionally suggest that any additional questions be posed at the break or after class.
You are expected to have any materials required for class when you arrive
. In particular, on exam days, you should have an ample supply of pens or pencils, and pencils should be sharpened before class. If you need to sharpen a pencil during an exam, you may do so, but it is less distracting to other students if you have several pencils and switch as needed. You do not need to bring paper for exams, as I will supply it, as noted under Examinations.
For a college-transfer class such as this one, most students need 6 to 10 hours per week of effective study time to earn a good grade. If you have trouble reading the text, or want an especially high grade, you may need even more time to thoroughly learn the material.
The Universe is a fascinating place, full of interesting objects, and if you have the time to learn the material you should love this course; but it is hard to appreciate any subject, no matter how interesting, if you can't keep up with the material. Be sure to study the text, any notes you take, and the website on a regular basis. Putting things off and trying to catch up just before the exams guarantees disappointing or disastrous results on the exams, and spoils your enjoyment of the material. If your schedule is so full that you cannot devote enough time to the class, you should consider taking it when you have more time.
Reading Assignments / More About Study Habits & Use of This Web Site
You must buy and start reading the text as soon as possible. Although I cover the class material as thoroughly as possible in my lectures, most of your knowledge and understanding will come from careful study of your text, and the online text. Also, the lectures are more enjoyable and understandable if you have already read the appropriate material before coming to class, so you should start the reading assignments as soon as possible. If you put off reading them until after I have covered the material in class, you will not learn as much. (Since I no longer teach the lecture class, and most instructors do not use the text that I used, I have deleted the page which discusses the reading assignments from that text. However, all instructors expect you to study the reading assignments they make in the way discussed below, so the rest of the discussion has been left intact. Just apply the ideas involved to the text and reading assignments for your class.)
Although I provide suggested reading assignments, I expect you to eventually read all the material in the text, and the corresponding material in the online text, except for the chapters which the Textbook Information page says will not be covered; and if you have any extra time, you should use it to start reading ahead, so you are better prepared later on. At first reading you should simply look through the material to see what is there, not studying it in detail. There is a list of essay questions
which might be on one exam or another, which is intended as a guide to what topics are most important. After reading the material once, you should go back and reread those topics which are relevant to the essay questions. In some cases all the material relating to a given question is in just one or two chapters of the text, but in other cases it is scattered over half a dozen chapters. By using the essay questions as a guide, you can adjust your study habits as appropriate, study more effectively, and earn a better grade for a given amount of study time.
In the list of essay questions, the number in front of each question links to a detailed breakdown of the question, with suggestions for studying the material for that question. The detailed breakdown of each essay question is your best guide to what you need to learn to do well in this class.
There are also various study suggestion pages linked from the Astronomy 1 Information page, and you should refer to all of them, before you start preparing for the first midterm.
Students who regularly visit this site (to check Recent Announcements, the Class Information pages, or the Online Astronomy Text) usually do far better than students who only visit the site when I remind them to do so. You need not visit the site every day, but you should visit it frequently. Not all the material on the website applies to any given class or exam, but I wouldn't have spent thousands of hours creating the site if I didn't think it useful and important to do so.
Finally, Learning and Academic Resources
and the LBCC Library
have tutorials and seminars about good study habits and techniques, and if you find that you need help preparing for the exams, you should also check their sites.
There will be two midterms and a Final. See the Astronomy 1 Information page for links to detailed notes for each of the exams, and guides to studying for the course as a whole.
Each examination consists of one or more essay questions taken, word for word, from the list of essay questions
that is posted on this site. The first midterm has one question, the second midterm has two questions, and the Final has three questions. Each exam covers only a portion of the course. You should refer to the relevant midterm and Final exam notes to see which essay questions might be on each exam.
I do not 'give' grades; you earn them through your effort to learn the material, and by writing answers that show me how well you have done so. To earn a particular grade for the class, you need to write answers which justify my awarding you that grade.
Sometimes students do not study all of the questions, in the hope that they will not receive a question which they did not study. This is very foolish, and could destroy any hope you have of passing the class. Even if you choose to study some questions more than others, you should prepare at least a passing answer for every question.
Each test is a closed-note, closed-book exam. You do not need to bring paper, as I provide paper for writing your answers. The test paper costs me about a nickel per student per exam, and I expect to be reimbursed for its cost when you pick up your test. If you don't have five cents you may still take the exam, but I would expect payment at the next exam. (You can also pay for paper for all three exams at the first exam, and not bother to pay at subsequent exams.)
Be sure to write your answer in a large enough size, and dark enough (you should use a pen or dark pencil) that it is easy for me to read. If I have difficulty reading your answer you may be penalized, as any part of your answer which I cannot read is assigned zero value.
If you make a mistake, don't waste time erasing or whiting it out; just X it out, and I will ignore it. Similarly, if you jot down notes which you don't want me to consider in determining your grade, just X them out.
At the start of the exam, you will come to the front desk to get (and pay for) the test and test paper. The test sheet will have a place to indicate your name, and the test question(s) and instructions. Be sure to put your name on the test sheet and the first page of your answer sheets before you do anything else. Any test turned in without a name will receive an F-minus grade. I will try to note whether you signed your test when you turn it in, but it is your responsibility to make sure your name is on the test.
The first midterm is followed by a lecture. There is no lecture after the second midterm or Final
Examination dates are posted at the start of the semester. You are expected to arrange your schedule to ensure that you are present for the exams. If you cannot do so, you should consider taking the class at another time or on a P/NP basis, as there will be no makeup exams, save as noted here:
You may take a makeup for the first midterm on the night of the second midterm, after turning in the second midterm (you may not take the makeup beforehand). Similarly, you may take a makeup for the second midterm on the night of the Final, after turning in the Final. To provide extra time for students who need to take these makeups, I will not give a lecture after the first midterm. The 90 minutes saved in that way will be added to the subsequent exams, so that students who need to take a makeup have 45 extra minutes to finish. Since there are no exams after the Final, there are also no makeups for it. You absolutely must take the Final as scheduled, or risk failing the class.
To encourage students to take exams as scheduled, all exams taken after the original exam date have half a letter grade deducted from the grade they would have earned on the original exam date (in the grade scale discussed below, this corresponds to a deduction of 5 points for each question on the exam).
You may take a makeup midterm even if you already took the corresponding midterm. If you do worse on the makeup (counting the late penalty) than on the original exam, the original grade will stand. If you do better on the makeup despite the late penalty, it will replace the original grade.
No extra credit work will be accepted. Grades are based only on the exams.
Essay Exam Grading
Each essay question answer, whether for a midterm or the Final, will be given a point value corresponding to the letter grade which is my best estimate of the grade which that particular answer deserves. This is by nature somewhat subjective, but I do my best to ensure that my grading is fair (meaning I don't pay any attention to whose test I am grading), and consistent (meaning if I grade a test several times, the grades are usually very close to each other), and feel that the grades I assign are almost always appropriate. However, you may not properly understand what kind of answer I'm looking for, so your first midterm grade, in particular, may be a bit of a surprise. This is why the first midterm counts so little, as discussed under Semester Grades, below. It is, in some ways, a "practice" exam (though it still counts toward your grade, to ensure that you make your best effort to "practice").
To help you learn what I am looking for in your answers, and do better on subsequent exams, I write as many notes as I have time for on each midterm; and if you would like a more detailed discussion, you may ask me to go over your exam with you, and explain exactly why I gave you the grade that I did. (Although I don't have time to do that for everyone's exam, I'm willing to do it for individual students, as time allows.) My willingness to do what I can to help you do better on subsequent exams does not mean I am willing to change your grade, just because you are unhappy with it. I am the sole arbiter of what grade an answer deserves, and assigned grades are final unless I decide I made some error in assigning or recording them.
I use a ten point per letter grade scale which runs from 0 to 49. A score of zero is assigned to any question which is inadvertently or deliberately left unanswered, or whose answer is not relevant to the question you were asked (rationale: if you receive one question but answer another, no matter how good your answer is, all it proves is that you did not study the question you were asked). For reference, here is how the scores correspond to letter grades: 0, F-minus-minus; 1 to 3, F-minus; 4 to 6, F; 7 to 9, F+; 10, borderline D; 11 to 13, D-minus; 14 to 16, D; 17 to 19, D+; 20, borderline C; 21 to 23, C-minus; 24 to 26, C; 27 to 29, C+; 30, borderline B; 31 to 33, B-minus; 34 to 36, B; 37 to 39, B+; 40, borderline A; 41 to 43, A-minus; 44 to 46, A; 47 to 49, A+.
I don't want to encourage students to withdraw from my course, but if you are not doing well, you may need to consider that possibility as the drop deadline approaches (see the Class Calendar for the deadline). You should assess how you have been doing in the class, and if personal circumstances have made it difficult for you to do well, whether you can expect a change in those circumstances which will allow you to successfully complete the course. I believe that any student who has the time and interest to properly study the material can pass this class; but if you feel it would be best to withdraw from the course and retake it when you have more time to devote to it, I will neither criticize your decision, nor think any the less of you.
Some students who are on Financial Aid have the erroneous idea that if they fail the class, they will not lose their financial aid. This is incorrect. Under almost all circumstances, the LBCC Financial Aid office treats a failing grade the same as a withdrawal. So you should only continue with the class if you think you have some chance of earning at least a D or P grade.
In case it makes any difference in your decision, my Spring 2010 lecture class is the last lecture class I plan to teach. I will continue to teach the lab classes for a while, but plan to use the time that the lecture class requires to spend more time on my online text, and my novels.
I do not allow Incomplete grades, for any reason whatsoever.