El Camino College         Honors  Astronomy  25            Stars and Galaxies and Cosmology Course Outline                Fall 2018

Instructor:  Perry Hacking; Office:  Planetarium Office; (310) 660-3593 (x3245); Office Hours: Tuesdays - Thursdays 3:30-4:00; Wednesdays 6-7.   Email address: phacking@elcamino.edu

 Section 1066 meets at 4:00-5:25 PM  on Tuesdays and Thursdays. in the Planetarium. 

Text: Astronomy Today, by Chaisson & McMillan, 9th edition.

Tutor:   TBD

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites, but you should be excited about astronomy and want to learn a lot about it!  Although this is a "non-mathematical" course arithmetic and algebra skills are assumed.  See Background Topics page for a review of what I think that you should know by the end of the first week of class.  There are some sample quiz questions there also.  The most common mistake that honors students make regarding this course is not doing the homework.

Course Objectives:  The general course objective is for you learn about and gain an appreciation for the motions in the heavens that are visible to the eye, the history of astronomy, the nature and potential of light and telescopes,  the nature of stars and their life cycle, the structure and evolution of the universe and the possibility of life on other worlds.  The official course objectives and Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) can be found at: Astronomy 25 Course Objectives

Attendance: Attendance is MANDATORY to keep up (even the best students are very surprised  when they return after missing a class). We cover a lot of material every class.

Exams: A midterm and a final in-class exams will be given.  The exams will have true/false, fill-in-the-blank and essay questions. Some exams will include identifications and descriptions from slides. About 50% of the problems will be taken from the quizzes. THERE WILL BE NO MAKEUP EXAMS.

There will also be a written take-home exam that will be worth 50 points that will be assigned near the end of the semester. 

Quizzes: 5-10 quizzes will be given worth a total of 100 points. These will cover only the previous week's material. The total of the quiz scores will count as much as a test score.

Homework: Homework assignments will be given for every chapter. They will will usually be worth 4 points per assignment. Due dates will be set for class days, and the assignment will be due at the beginning of class (turn it in on the front left corner of the desk when you arrive, do not wait for me to call for it).  No late homework sets will be allowed. If you are going to be late or not make it to class, then you will need to arrange to get the homework to me early.  There will be a total of 50 homework points.

Extra Credit: 40 points maximum for the semester. All extra credit is due at the last class meeting of the 13th week (except for the sunset project).  See Extra Credit Instruction Sheet for further details

Differences for honors students: we will cover the same material as the regular class, but in more depth.  The quizzes and tests will reflect this fact.  Less extra credit is offered for honors students also and there is more writing required for your take home test. 

Grading: Course grade is based on the exams, project, quizzes, and extra credit. I total all of your points at the end of the semester to determine your grade. The grade scale is as follows:

each exam    for the course

90 - 100 A     360 - 400 A

80 - 89 B       320 - 359 B

65 - 79 C       260 - 319 C

50 - 64 D       200 - 259 D

Students who withdraw after September 7th will receive a permanent grade record and after November 23rd will receive a letter grade based on the entire semester's requirements.

Disabilities:  If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible..

Preparation: This is a tough class. I expect at least 4 hours of studying per week from you.  It is best if you study for 50-60 minutes five days per week instead of cramming all of your astronomy studies into long hours once or twice per week.  You will be learning some concepts that are difficult to grasp and the course will work better for you if you take it in smaller pieces five days per week.

Advice: The only stupid questions are the ones that you don't ask. Don't be concerned with what others think. If you don't understand something, ask questions. When you get lost in a lecture, raise your hand immediately. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence.

If I see that you are not asking questions, I will randomly select questions to ask YOU!


Classroom Manners. Please:

  1. Turn off all cell phones. 
NO text-messaging during class.

Lectures Topic      (Reading Assignment - note that your reading will be ahead of the lecture to begin with - I will catch up!)

Week 1  The Sky  (Chap 1).

Week 2  The scale of things, motions in the heavens (Chap 2)

Weeks 3 & 4  Seasons, Phases of Moon, eclipses.  (Chap 3.)

Week 5  History of Astronomy. Gravity,  rockets and orbits (Chap 4)

Week 6  Light.  (Chap. 5).

Week 7  Light and Telescopes (Chap 6, Chap 16). Overview of the Solar system.

Week 8  The Sun  (Chap 17) , Midterm  

Week 9  Properties of stars (Chaps 18-19).

Week 10  The Birth of Stars (Chaps. 20-21)

Week 11 Stellar  Masses & Evolution (Chap 22)

Week 12 Star Clusters, Main Sequence Dating, Exotic Binary Systems (Chap 23)

Week 13 The Milky Way Galaxy (Chaps 24-25)

Week 14 Galaxy Types, Distribution, and Evolution.  (Chaps 26-27).  

Week 15 Cosmology - the Big Bang.  (Chap 28).

Week 16 Life in the Universe.  Final Exam.  Take Home Test Due.