North Seattle Community College                                                           Fall 2006


Astronomy 100: Introductory Astronomy

Course meeting times:       TTh, 11 a.m. — 1:20 p.m.

Lectures, exercises and discussions will be held in Room AS 1623

Text: You will choose a textbook that suits you from the stash in class.


Other equipment:    ¥ E-mail account that you will check twice per week

¥ Access to a scientific calculator


Course purpose and goals: This course will acquaint you with the methods and observations of space scientists, past and present, by performing some of our own with our Meade telescopes. We will discuss astronomical ideas, with special attention to the solar system, the forces that hold it in place and human exploration of it. I hope you take away from the class an understanding of why humans study such distant places and how this informs us of our place in the universe. I also hope you will have an appreciation for some of the methods that are used to gain this knowledge, and of the night sky. Also, why Pluto is no longer a planet.


Instructor: Tracy Furutani                          Office: IB 2328B

Phone: 528-4509                                           Office Hour: TTh, 1:20— 2:20 p.m.




Grading:        Group projects, 2 at 50 pts. each                                        100

                        Poster project and abstract                                                 50
                        Meade telescope project                                                     50

                        Weekly assignments, 10 points each, best 10 of 11        100                 

                        Exercises, 10 pts. each, best 10 of 11                                  100

                        Quizzes, weekly 10 pts. each                                              100*

                        Final                                                                                       100*


                        Total                                                                                       500

*The greater of these two will count towards your grade.

Grades will be assigned as follows:

Your total points:     475 - 500         4.0

                                    450 - 474         3.7

                                    425 - 449         3.3

                                    400 - 424         3.0

                                    375 - 399         2.7

                                    350 - 374         2.3

                                    325 - 349         2.0

                                    300 - 324         1.7

                                    275 - 299         1.3

                                    250 - 274         1.0

                                    < 250               0.0

This schedule is subject to a minimal amount of change.

Group projects: There will be two of these projects, one at the beginning of the quarter and one at the end of the quarter. You will work, for the duration of the projects, in teams (to be assigned by me or to be self-chosen) and, on the following day, each team (through a team representative) will make a short oral presentation. Your group members will all receive the same grade; some points will be earned during the project and some will be earned at the presentation. For obvious reasons, these projects cannot be made up.


Poster project: You (and, optionally, one partner) will pick from a selection of topics to create a poster (a visually-oriented presentation on posterboard) and presenting it at a poster session (see calendar) where you will be evaluated by your peers as well as me. You will also be asked to write an abstract prior to the poster session.


Exercises: There will be eleven exercises, designed to help you perform (minimal) astronomical calculations, visualize celestial concepts, etc. These exercises can be turned in at the end of class, but are most definitely due at the beginning of the class meeting following the general discussion of the exercise. I encourage you to work with others on these exercises, and to turn them as in as group efforts (with all your names at the top of the assignment), though, of course, individually-done exercises are fine as well.


Weekly assignments: Unlike the exercises, which are meant to be done in class, these assignments are essentially homework. They consist of vocabulary lists, home stargazing and other relevant stuff you can do on your own time. You may use the Web, or the textbook, or the other textbook, or each other as resources to complete these assignments, but IÕd like each individual to turn in a separate assignment.


Exams: There will be a weekly quiz, administered on Tuesday, which will take twenty minutes, consisting of short answer plus an essay question. They are based on the questions found in the exercises and the weekly assignments. The quizzes will all be open-book, notes and labs, but please refrain from collaborating with others. The quiz is a diagnostic tool; a good score means that you have kept up with the reading and exercises; thus, if the total of all the quiz grades is greater than 90, then you will be excused from the final (I mean, you could take the final if you really wanted to). The final exam is two hours long and comprehensive; a good score on this obliterates a lower total quiz score.


Attendance: Because we meet only 21 times during the quarter (as opposed to 49 times, if we met daily), please attend each meeting. We will be covering roughly a chapter per day, so it will be easy to fall behind and difficult to make up lost ground. For this reason, there will be no make-up exams (see the section on exams above). Exercises that require no special equipment can be made up. Please call me (528-4509) if you know you are going to miss class, so that we can discuss what you have missed. More importantly, you should notify your teammates in any group project of pending absences!


Cheating: Don't. I will use the policy outlined in the Student Conduct section of the Student Handbook. Remember, a group project is the result of a roughly equal sharing of ideas from each member of the group. Collaboration is absolutely essential. Collaboration is also important during the exercises. An individual project or quiz or exam, however, is an evaluation of what each individual understands. Please do not collaborate on these endeavors. Plagiarism (the unattributed use or copying of other peopleÕs ideas, words or pictures) is considered cheating; I will be monitoring this carefully on your poster project.


Chemical sensitivities: Due to the increasing numbers of individuals developing chemical sensitivities and the increasing awareness of such conditions, everyone who attends this class is asked to refrain from wearing any fragrance or perfume. The greatest feasible efforts will also be taken to ensure a fresh air environment free of not only the above-mentioned fragrances but also potentially harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, carpet odor, organic solvents, etc. Individuals who are unsure of the importance of this policy should see the Associate Dean for additional information.


Other notes: The use of pagers and cell phones is a symptom of our ever-increasingly wired society. For people such as myself with extremely short attention spans, these devices can easily destroy concentration. Please switch your devices to a ÒsilentÓ setting during class.


Dates to remember:

            Last day to withdraw without a W                       October 6

            Last day to drop course                                          November 17

            Last day of instruction                                            December 11

            Final                                                                           December 13, 10:30 a.m.

Useful websites:


Astronomy Picture of the Day

Jet Propulsion Laboratories 

A Tour of the Solar System              

Phil PlaitÕs Bad Astronomy   














Course calendar, some dates of assignments may be subject to change.


Sept. 25



Exercise 1
Weekly assignment 1 handed out



Exercise 2


Group Project 1 starts


Oct. 2

3  Quiz 1

Assignment 2 handed out

Assignment 1 due


5 Exercise 3

Exercise 4

Group Project 1 presentations




Assignment 3 handed out

Assignment 2 due


12 Quiz 2

Poster project handed out




Assignment 4 handed out

Exercise 5


19 Quiz 3

Assignment 3 due




Assignment 5 handed out



26 Quiz 4

Assignment 4 due

Exercise 6





Nov. 1

2 Quiz 5

Assignment 5 due

Exercise 7




Assignment 6 handed out

Assignment 5 due


9 Quiz 6

Poster abstract due

Exercise 8


VeteranÕs Day



Assignment 7 handed out

Assignment 6 due


16 Quiz 7

Poster session

Exercise 9




Assignment 8 handed out

Assignment 7 due








Assignment 9 handed out

Assignment 8 due

Exercise 10


30 Quiz 8

Group Project 2

Dec. 1




Assignment 10 handed out

Assignments 9 and 10 due

Exercise 11


7 Meeting at UW planetarium

Quizzes 9 and 10

Group Project 2




Review session, 11:00 a.m.




Final, 10:30 a.m.