Line Number: 91080
School of Earth and Space Exploration:

INTRODUCTION TO ASTRONOMY I: Discovering the Solar System

 INSTRUCTOR: Regents Professor Sumner Starrfield, Ph.D.


                  OFFICE:                     PSF 554

                  LECTURES:               Tu-Thu 1:30pm to 2:45 IN ROOM PSF-166


                  TELEPHONE:             965-5081, 965-8950 (messages) OR 965-7569 (office)

                  CLASS E-MAIL:     (I answer E-MAIL but  put AST 111 in the Subject line)

                  TEXTBOOK:                THE SOLAR SYSTEM: SEEDS AND BACKMAN: ISBN 9781305744646 Available for $122.50 in the ASU Bookstore.  It is a custom edition for ASU

C           Class Web Page:

    There will be a partial Solar Eclipse visible from Phoenix on the morning of August 21, 2017.  It is total along a strip far north of us.  It begins at 9:13am and reaches maximum of more than 70% at 10:33am. It ends at Noon.  I will be at ISTB 4 along with some of the other astronomers to answer questions about the eclipse.  I will also be taking roll – signing the sheet will be worth 2 exam points.  We will be helping you watch the eclipse safely.  DO NOT STARE AT THE SUN!

The links to the study guides and tests will be found here later in the semester: bookmark this page.

The first test is Tuesday September 26, 2017  Here is a pdf copy of the Study Guide: Study Guide 1
The Second test is Tuesday October 31, 2017. Here is a pdf copy of the Study Guide: Study Guide 2
The Third test is Thursday November 30, 2017. This is the last class of the semester.  Here is a pdf copy of the Study Guide: Study Guide 3

The Date and TIME and LOCATION of the FINAL EXAM are given below.  It is comprehensive and there will be no new Study Guides.

This Class is not on Blackboard and I do not use Powerpoint. If either of these bother you then please take another section.


             This course is an introductory survey of modern astronomy and our understanding of the Sun, Planets, and astronomical tools necessary to understand the properties of the Solar System. It is designed for both non-science and science students. The only pre-requisite is a knowledge of basic high school arithmetic and algebra. AST 111 and AST 112 are designed to be separate courses and it is possible to take one without the other so we will be using two different texts: one for each class. We will follow the textbook rather closely but outside reading is encouraged. Note that the text has many good discussion and review questions and you are encouraged to study them since I will use some of them for exam questions. In addition, articles and notes in Scientific American, Sky and Telescope, Astronomy, ... often provide interesting and fruitful supplements to our text. They are available in the Noble Library. You will be responsible for all the assigned reading in the text, even if the material is not covered in class.

         I will hand-out a set of math and science questions.      These questions are given to you to indicate if you have the skills necessary to work the problems given in class. If you cannot do many of the questions in this handout, I strongly suggest that you see me before continuing with the class. The answer key will be posted on a bulletin board on the first floor of Physical Sciences F wing. You will receive 2 exam points for turning it in with your name on it.


                        Our textbook is a one semester version of a two semester introduction to astronomy. This book is cheaper than the two semester version and hardly any students take both semesters of introductory astronomy at ASU (111 and 112). This special edition has its own cover which shows a faculty member (Professor Paul Knauth) appreciating the night sky. Check the copyright it should say: 2016, 2013, 2011. However, the bottom of that same page says Copyright 2015 Cengage Learning.


                        If you are in the Honors College, I encourage you to take this class for Honors Credit. I will expect additional work such as a term paper. You must see me if you are interested in doing this so we can agree on what will be necessary to obtain Honors Credit.


                        There will be three (3) one hour exams during the semester each worth 50 points (50 questions worth one point apiece). Absence from an exam will result in a score of zero. I drop the lowest score among the three one hour exams so that there will be no make-up exam. I cover material during the class that is not in the textbook. I will, therefore, examine you on material that is not in the textbook. If this concerns you, I remind you that there is an attendance requirement for all classes at ASU. I do not take roll and satisfy the requirement by this method.
                      The final exam is a two (2) hour exam and will be given on Thursday December 7, 2017 from 12:10pm to 2:00pm in PSF-166
(this classroom). Everyone must take the final or you will Fail the course. Do NOT make airline reservations for any time before our final exam - there will be no early finals. The final exam is comprehensive and covers the entire course; it will be worth a total of 100 points.
                      All my exams are machine scored, multiple choice and are open notes only. You must bring a picture ID to each exam and be prepared to show it upon demand.
Neither cell phones, tablets, the TEXTBOOK, nor laptops will be allowed during any of the exams. I will hand out a review sheet before each exam outlining the material that I think is particularly important. However, you are responsible for coming to class and reading the textbook. The review sheet is not a substitute for either of these.


                        From time to time during the semester, I will hand out one page sheets with questions that require short answers. Each sheet will be worth 3 Exam points and I expect to hand out about 10 of these --more or less. I will use some of the questions on these sheets as questions on the exams. They will be due the next class period and the questions must be answered on the sheets that I have handed out. No copies and no late sheets will be accepted. These are a required part of the course and you must do at least 2 or 3 to pass this course. They are not extra credit - I add in the homework points before making up the final grade.


                        I will make up the grades by totaling the number of exam plus exercise points accumulated during the semester. I will construct a curve based on the person with the largest number of points. I cannot tell how many points will be necessary for a particular letter grade but would guess that about 180 are necessary for an A, about 150 for a B, and about 120 for a C. These numbers are onlyapproximate.

(1) Show up on time. (2) Please do not leave class early and rustle papers in preparation for leaving before class is dismissed.If you need to leave early, sit near an exit. (3) Stay awake - putting your head down on the desk and going to sleep is very distracting. (4) Don't read newspapers or surf the web or answer email with your laptop. I can tell when you are doing this by the laughter of the people behind you.  (5) Don't cheat off your neighbors exam sheet there is an honors code at ASU.

(6) Turn off your Cell Phones and Pagers!


"Academic honesty is expected of all students in all examinations, papers, laboratory work, academic transactions and records. The possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, appropriate grade penalties, course failure (indicated on the transcript as a grade of E), course failure due to academic dishonesty (indicated on the transcript as a grade of XE), loss of registration privileges,
 disqualification and dismissal. For more information, see (This statement included at the request of Provost Searle)

ASTRONOMY Picture of the day:

Schedule of Chapters (rough order - subject to change by announcement in class):

Week                 Chapters                                        Subject Matter

1                      Appendix A and 1               Units, Astronomical Data and the Scale of the Cosmos

2                      2                                      The Night Sky

3                      3 and 4                              Cycles of the Moon and Origin of Modern Astronomy

4                      5                                      Newton and Gravity

5                      6                                      Light and Telescopes

6                      7                                      Starlight and Atoms

7                      8                                      The Sun as a Star

8                      9 and 10                            Origins: Perspective and Origin of the Solar System and Extrasolar Planets

9                      11                                     The Earth: The Active Planet and Global Warming

10                     12                                     The Moon and Mercury

11                     13                                     Venus and Mars

12                     14                                     Jupiter and Saturn

13                     15                                     Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Sedna, ...

14                     16                                     Meteorites, Asteroids, Comets

15                     17                                     Life on Other Worlds (maybe)


The most important questions in science

The Major Topics for AST 111

The Goals for AST 111