El Camino College           Astronomy  20             The Solar System  Course Outline             Spring 2018

Schedule: Section 1060 meets at 2PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Section 1054 meets on Fridays at 9AM.  Both sections meet  in the Planetarium. 

Instructor:  Perry Hacking; Office: Planetarium; Phone: (310) 660-3593 (x3245); Office Hours: Tuesdays-Thursdays 3:30-4:00,  Wednesdays 5-7 PM.  Email: phacking@elcamino.edu

Text: Astronomy Today, by Chaisson & McMillan. 8th ed. (7th edition okay if you have access to an 8th edition)

Tutor:  Tutor info

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.

Course Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes:  In general, the objectives of the course are for you to learn about our night sky, the motions of celestial bodies in it, the cause of the seasons on Earth, the history of astronomy, all of the major bodies in our solar system and important minor bodies and the theory of how our solar system formed and how physical evidence supports this theory.  The official course objectives and SLO can be found at: Astronomy 20 Course Obectives.

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 quizzes will be given worth a total of 100 points. These will cover 2-3 weeks' worth of 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 usually be worth 4 points per assignment. Due dates will given in class, 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.)   Please put your name and section number on the top of the page.  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: 100 points maximum for the semester. All extra credit is due the last day of class in the 13th week (May 17th -section 1060, May 18th section 1054).  See Extra Credit Instruction Sheet for further details.

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

88 - 100 A     360 - 400 A

76 - 88 B       320 - 359 B

64 - 76 C       260 - 319 C

50 - 64 D       200 - 259 D

Students who withdraw after February 23rd will have a permanent grade record for this course.  Students who withdraw after  May 5th  will receive a letter grade based on the entire semester's requirements.

Preparation: This is a tough class. I expect at least 3-5 hours of studying per week from you.  Strong suggestion:  make a plan that allows 45 minutes per night, 5 nights per week to study for this class.  Also, bring 3x5 or 4x6 cards to class so you can make flash cards in class.  

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

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. 

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

Lectures Topic (Reading Assignment)

Week 1 The Sky  (Chap 1).  

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

Week 3& 4 Seasons, phases of the Moon, eclipses.(Chap 3.)

Week 5 History of Astronomy. Gravity, Newton's laws.  (Chap 4)

Week 6 Light. (Chap. 5).

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

Week 8  General nature of Terrestrial Planets.  Mercury Chapters 8 & 9)

Week 9 Midterm.  Venus (Chapter 7)

Week 10 & 11 The Earth  and Moon (Chapter 10). 

Week 12 Mars (Chapter 11).

Week 13 Jupiter and its moons (Chapter 12).

Week 14 Saturn and its rings (Chapter 13).

Week 15 Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  Asteroids and Comets.  (Chapters 14-15).

Week 16 Origin of the Solar System, Final.