Descriptive Astronomy - AST 1002


Dr. James R. Webb

Professor of Physics, Director SARA Observatory

Office: CP 222 Office Phone: 348-3964

web site:


This course will offer you a glimpse of the vast and complex universe we inhabit, concentrating on the formation of stars and galaxies. 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 Stellar and Extragalactic astronomy. The main text we will use in this course will be Universe 10th edition by Kaufmann and Freedman.  The lectures will cover the assignd chapters of the text as well as additional materials not covered in the text. We will also discuss current events in astronomy when they are pertinent to the text material (such as the Space Telescope etc.).  You are responsible for (and will be tested on) ALL of the material presented in the lectures. 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. It will be assumed you have read the assigned chapters in the text before they are discussed in class. I want to encourage you to ask questions concerning the assigned material and the lecture material during the lectures. If you have any other questions regarding physics or astronomy but not pertaining to the lecture of the day, 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 fourth of the final grade. The date for the exam will be announced in class at least 1 week before the exam is to be given.  (It is your responsibility to find out the exam dates).  The exams will contain questions covering material from the text and the lectures.  A review session will precede each test, during which 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:

1.  permission is obtained from the instructor before the scheduled exam

2.  sufficient reason for a makeup is documented.


Anyone caught 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). Pluses will be given, but no minuses,except for D+, whihc is no longer offered by the University.


Class Conduct

Please do not come to class to socialize. This is a college course, anyone disrupting the class by talking will be asked to leave immediately.

Astronomy is perhaps the most rapidly changing and evolving of all the sciences. I hope that this class will be an interesting and enjoyable look into the universe in which we all live.