The Solar System
Spring Quarter 2002
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 to 11:45 in Willamette 100.
This is a one quarter course on astronomy in which we cover the solar system.
I recommend taking a full year course by taking also ASTR 122 on the birth and death of stars and ASTR 123 on galaxies and the history of the universe.
You can send me emails with questions or comments on the course. If I can
respond to a question briefly, I will (although perhaps not instantly). If
the answer is lengthy or subtle, I will suggest that you come to see me.
The class meets from 10:00 to approximately 11:45 on Tuesdays and
Thursdays, with a five minute break halfway through the class. That is,
the total class time will be approximately 4 * 50 minutes each week.
If you must arrive late or leave early on a particular day, that will
be OK as long as it is not frequent. In that case, please
use a seat towards the back on the aisle so that you do not disrupt
the class when you enter or leave. It will be best if other students
leave aisle seats in the back vacant.
The UO Schedule of Classes listed this class as ending at 11:20 instead
of 11:50. That was an error. No one knows how a ``2'' became a ``5.''
Fortunately, our class is in a two hour block of time, so there can
be no schedule conflicts with other UO classes. Nevertheless, this
error could cause schedule problems for some students, and I apologize for
this on behalf of the UO. I will try to find out how extensive the
scheduling problem is for students registered for the class.
There will be occasional in class exercises that involve working with
another student seated next to you, so come with a friend.
There are also web based notes, which you
have probably found if you are reading this on your computer screen. The
notes may be found at http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/astr121.html.
- Astronomy/ Journey to the Cosmic Frontier (2nd Edition)
- John D. Fix
There will be homework for you to do electronically during the week
following each class, starting at the end of the second week of class.
The homework will have the form of a short multiple choice quiz. I
will have more information about this during the second week. The
homework is ``open book'': you may consult your book or notes to do it.
I will not regard it as dishonest if you consult another student (while
still deciding on the answers to submit yourself), but I strongly
discourage consulting other students because you will not learn as much
and will not do as well on the exams.
Inevitably, there will be a few students who miss an exam because
of illness or for similar reasons. If the student has a good reason,
my policy is to give a makeup exam as soon as possible after the
scheduled exam. The makeup exam is similar to the regular exam except
that it includes a component in which I ask questions of
the student orally. Only in exceptional circumstances will I give
a makeup exam before the regularly scheduled exam. (An example: the
student has a special opportunity for study abroad that must begin
during UO exam week.) Please let me know in advance if you know of
an unavoidable conflict that would prevent you from taking an exam.
- Midterm Exam: Thursday 18 April (in class)
- Midterm Exam: Thursday 16 May (in class)
- Final Exam: Thursday June 13 at 8:00
Your course grade will be based on a total score made up of
I letter grade will be assigned ``on a curve,'' with slightly more than half
of the students getting As and Bs. At your option, you can take the course ``pass-fail'' but beware: a D gets translated into a no-pass.
- Homeworks: 20%
- Midterm Exam: 20%
- Midterm Exam: 20%
- Final Exam: 40%
When you take an exam, you are attesting that you are submitting your
own work, which reflects what you have learned. Anything else is
dishonest, and I take dishonesty very seriously. You should your own
academic honesty very seriously too: in various ways it is possible to
pretend to learn, but eventually you need to actually possess skills
- Knowledge of the solar system:
- Motions of the earth and other planets and moons.
- Geology and geological history of planets and moons.
- How the present features of the planets were determined by
the early history of the solar system.
- Knowledge of the intellectual history of our understanding of the solar system.
- Where did this knowledge come from?
- How did earlier ideas lead to the later ideas?
- Were the earlier ideas simply wrong? Or maybe it's the modern
ideas that are wrong. Or maybe all ideas are equally good.
- Critical thinking skills.
- How do I know this is right? Is there any evidence for this?
- Putting ideas together.
- High school level mathematics useful for science and other pursuits.
- Computer literacy.
Davison E. Soper, Institute of Theoretical Science,
University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403 USA