ASTR 121
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.

Teaching assistant:


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


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.


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.

Academic honesty:

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 and knowledge.

ASTR121 Goals:

Davison E. Soper, Institute of Theoretical Science, University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403 USA