Course Description



If I were to say “your environment”, likely you would think of trees and air and water. My overarching goal for this course is to expand the boundaries of your environment to the edge of the Solar System. Importantly, my goal is not only for you to understand the contents and evolution of the Solar System. In addition I want you to leave the course feeling a part of the Solar System, a place in which you can locate yourself, a place across which you can travel, a place that has influenced your cultural history, a place whose energy affects your everyday life, and a place that permitted life on earth, fostered its evolution to you, and ultimately will be life’s demise.

 Along the way you will be introduced to the basic physics that is the essence of your environment, on and beyond the Earth. Light, gravity, even quantum mechanics and general relativity, will be presented in a "user-friendly" fashion that will expand your perceptions of the world around you

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There are no course prerequisites. A basic familiarity with elementary algebra, geometry, and scientific notation are assumed. If these present any difficulties for you, both the professor and TA are ready and willing to help.

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The Solar System: The Cosmic Perspective  (Bennett, Donahue, Schneider & Voit, 2004, 3rd edition), available at the University Book Store

Discovering the Cosmos, Bless, Chaps. 3ó8, available at Bobís Copy Shop at University Square


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Study Groups


You are urged to join a study group within which you may work on homework together, study for exams, etc. Evaluate the effectiveness of your group frequently; if its not working for you, join another.


Note: even though you have worked together, you must write up any assignments independently.


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Electronic Mail


Use e-mail to facilitate your study groups, to obtain fast responses to questions from professor or TA (we are logged in most of the time!), to make suggestions or requests, etc.


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While end-of-the-year course evaluations are invaluable, they won't change your experience. This is the first time we have taught this course and we are trying numerous new approaches. Don't hesitate to let either Bob Mathieu or Marta Sewilo know how the course can be improved. We will listen!


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Degree Requirements


3 credits, applied to the Physical Science Breadth Requirement.


Astronomy 114 "Hands on the Universe" is a computer laboratory course designed (but not required) to be taken with Astronomy 104, giving students the opportunity  to make their own astronomical observations with the largest telescopes in the world. Taking both Astronomy 104 and 114 satisfies the Business School laboratory requirement and the L&S Quantitative Reasoning - B requirement. Note that these requirements are satisfied even if you take Astronomy 114 in a later semester.


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