ASTR 1110

Introduction to the Solar System



Class meeting time11:00-12:35, Monday-Friday, June 5-July 7. Final exam is July 7, during the regular class period.
Class meeting locationDuane Physics Building, G125. We'll have three classes at the Fiske Planetarium instead, at the regular time. There will be several additional night-time sessions at the Sommers-Bosch observatory. Both the planetarium and observatory are near the SE corner of campus.
TextbookThe Cosmic Perspective, by Bennett/Donahue/Schneider/Voit, available at the bookstore. I'll hand out some additional reading throughout the course.
Course Web Page
Class LunchFor anyone interested, we'll gather after class every Friday and go up to the Hill for lunch.


InstructorDr. Henry Throop,
Office LocationDuane Physics, D221. My office is one floor up and a few doors west of the classroom.
Phone(303) 492-3215
Office HoursT/Th, 3-4 PM or by appointment. Feel free to stop by or call at other times too, although I can't promise I'll be there unless we've arranged it ahead of time. Generally afternoons are a much better choice than mornings.
TARob Morris,
TA Office HoursM-F, 2-3 PM, or by appointment.
TA PhoneTBA. Rob can be often be found during the day at Fiske Planetarium, (303) 492-5002, or leave voicemail at (720) 406-0861.
TA Office LocationDuane Physics, F533, 5th floor. The elevator to the Gamow Tower is just west of the classroom, but skips the 1st floor. Get on from floors 1B or 2.
MailboxesBoth Rob & I have mailboxes outside the APS main office, Duane Physics E226. Our boxes are both in the lower left hand corner just to the right of the door.

Grading Policies

Final grade is based on:
Homework (5)30%
Exams (2)25%
Final Exam30%
All grades (homework, exams, etc.) will be available online via WebCT - talk to me or Rob if you haven't used this system before.
Because this is an accelerated course, late homework is strongly discouraged. Homework will be collected at the start of class; any work turned in late will be marked down at 20% per day, and work turned in after the solutions are posted can't be accepted. Talk to me for any exceptions (medical, religious, etc.). If you feel uncomfortable with the grading distribution (e.g., don't take tests well), talk to me immediately and we can consider alternate arrangements.
You'll be expected to attend class every day. If you can't make a class for some reason, let me or Rob know ahead of time, although it will be difficult to make up work. We will have three sessions at Fiske Planetarium, and two night labs and one day lab at Sommers-Bosch observatory. The in-class time will be split between lectures, hands-on demonstrations, and collaborative group activities. Your class participation grade depends will be based on your attendance and participation in each part of the class.
Science happens through collaboration, and few research papers are written with a single author. We will be doing group work regularly during class. I encourage you to work with others on the homework and exploring the world of astronomy in general. The homework solutions that you turn in should be your own work, in your own words, and you should be able to recreate and discuss them yourself. Academic dishonesty on homework or exams will result in the appropriate measures as dictated by myself and CU policy, but will generally result in you failing the assignment, the exam, or the entire course.

Teaching Philosophy

This is not a fact-based course: I haven't memorized the velocity of Pluto to four significant figures, and I hope you won't either. Nevertheless, it will be sometimes useful to be able to calculate quantities like Pluto's velocity: for instance, to compare whether Pluto moves faster, slower, or the same as the Earth, and why. The goal of this class is to give you general tools and methods of thinking: how to approach a problem, how to measure a quantity, how to think on broad size-scales and time-scales, using logical thought to describe what your eyes can see, analyzing how systems interact, and so forth. The `facts' of astronomy are occasionally practical and useful for everyday life, but in this course they'll be treated as coming along for the ride, and cannot by themself motivate the course. But they are fun, and we'll be exploring many parameters and particularities of the solar system along the way.
Similarly, this is not a math course: the emphasis is on understanding concepts, not computing numbers. To understand the concepts, we'll be using some intermediate-level (high school) algebra: manipulation of variables, solving for an unknown quantity, exponents, and the occasional trig function. Math review sessions will be scheduled as needed. A basic scientific calculator will be useful.
If you don't understand something during class, in the book, in the planetarium, or in the news -- or if you are interested in areas not covered in the scope of the class -- speak up! Someone else is probably thinking the same thing you are! Ask during class, send e-mail, or come by our office hours. This class is my sole job this term and I'd like for all of us to have an intense, rewarding time while learning to observe and appreciate the natural world around us.

Dr. Henry Throop, University of Colorado /

Last modified 5-June-2000