Syllabus for Solar System Astronomy

Solar System Astronomy

AST 2003

Instructor: Dr. James R. Webb

Office: CP 222

Office Phone: 348-3964

This course will offer you a glimpse of the vast and complex universe we inhabit, concentrating on the Solar system in which we live. The first part of the semester we will concentrate on the history and fundamentals of modern astronomy and the remainder of the semester will consist of an in-depth study of the origin, characteristics and future of our Solar system. Included will be discussions of the information obtained about the planets and their moons by spacecraft. The main text we will use in this course will be

Universe by Kauffman and Freedman, eighth edition

The lectures will cover the assigned chapters of the text as well as additional materials presented in lecture but not covered in the text. We will also discuss current issues in astronomy when they are pertinent to the text material (such as the Space Telescope discoveries, comet collisions etc.).

You are responsible for and tested on ALL of the material presented in the lectures, regardless of whether they are covered in the book. Oral announcements made in class are binding and it is your obligation to find out any important announcements (such as test dates) that are made in class, if you are absent.

It will be assumed you have read the assigned chapters in the text before they are discussed in lecture. You are encouraged to ask questions concerning the assigned material and the lecture material during the class periods, before or after class, or during office hours. If you have any other questions regarding physics or astronomy, feel free to ask them before or after class or see me in my office. You should be prepared to devote at least as much time to study as you spend in class.


There will be four exams, including a non-comprehensive final, each accounting for one 1/4 of the final grade. The exams will contain questions covering material from the text and the lectures. The terms in bold letters in the text are important and you should pay particular attention to their meaning. The key terms and the review questions at the end of the chapters will be fair game on the tests, even if they are not explicitly discussed in class. If time permits, a review session may precede each test if time allows. During this review, we will go over the important concepts and details and answer any questions over the material you may have.

No makeup exams will be scheduled unless permission is obtained from the instructor before the scheduled exam and sufficient reason for a makeup is documented. I will decide if your reason is sufficient or not! Anyone cheating on an exam or talking after the exams have been handed out will get a 0 on the exam and referred to the appropriate authorities.


Each exam will be graded on a standard 100 point scale: 90-100 (A), 80-89 (B), 70-79 (C), 60-69 (D), 0-59 (F). The final class grade will be the average of the four test grades. Curves will be used only if I decide they are warrented. No extra credit will be given, so study for the exams.

Class Conduct

Do not come to class to socialize! Anyone disrupting the class by talking, reading the paper or coming in late (or leaving early) will be asked to leave immediately.