Last modified: 1/12/09
Please read this entire document carefully before beginning the class!
Course Information: content
If you are new to Astronomy 10, take a a few minutes to read the
course description and information below. The timeline for everything
you need to do in the class is contained in the Weekly Schedule.
You will see the link for this webpage at the top of this page and
also in the course menu in blackboard. Please check it out as soon
as you can. Since this is a true distance education course, there
are no official class meetings. Students are welcome and encouraged
to come on campus to use the facilities. In general, e-mail is the best way to get your questions answered, although you are strongly encouraged to stop by your instructors office hours. See Blackboard or Eric Harpell's webpage for a schedule of office hours.
Taking (and Succeeding)
In a nutshell, you need
to do six things to succeed in this class. In order of importance
to your grade, they are:
- Study material from your textbook and web sites listed in the
- take quizzes in blackboard
- complete 5 Assignments
from the Mastering
Astronomy Website ( Make sure to register using access code:MAHARPELL08425)
- complete 2 research assignments
- participate about once per week in discussion board topics
- take a final exam
These items, and the grading rubrics for each, will be discussed in more detail below.
we have embarked on a Journey through the Solar system, and occasionally
beyond. The class schedule will guide you, but of course, the consistent
effort and enthusiasm necessary to succeed is your job! . As listed above, you will read material from the textbook, work
through tutorials and chapter quizzes in the Mastering Astronomy web-site, research and write brief reviews of contemporary
research in astronomy, and take five multi-chapter, weekly quizzes in Blackboard. To cap it off, a final
exam awaits at the end of week seventeen.
Unfortunately, this is not
a leisurely stroll through the wonders of the solar system--there is much to do in astronomy if you wish
to succeed and sufficient time to learn and enjoy the material if
you pace yourself properly. In other words, completing this class
will take a serious commitment of time and concentration. To provide
a point a reference, students taking astronomy (on the web) as a
seventeen week semester course are advised to set aside nine hours
per week for the class. My best advice is to try to
do something related to astronomy every day until
you find a pace that works.
course lacks regular meetings with an instructor or classmates,
you are not alone here. Answers to your questions are an e-mail
to the instructor away. You The discussion area (see below) is also
a valuable resource. Be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions
Page (FAQ's) as well. Finally, In astronomy, we are fortunate to have an incredible
array of images, descriptions, data, simulations, and activities
from astronomers around the world literally at our fingertips on
started in Astro 10 DE
As many of you
of you have already discovered, the first "portal" for
your learning experience is Blackboard.
Only students enrolled in the class will be able to login (following
the step by step instructions that appear). Blackboard is designed
to function as your on-line "classroom" where you will
access assignments, view and participate in the "discussion"
area, and take quizzes and the final exam. From Blackboard, you
can also send messages to your instructor and classmates using the
e-mail system (note--blackboard simply routes messages to your regular
e-mail address--be sure to go to Student Tools and personal information to make sure your e-mail
address is correct. YOU MUST have a valid e-mail address listed
there or you cannot hope to communicate as needed to pass this class).
When you are finished reading this document, go to blackboard and
click on the various links to see what is available. You will find
quiz one in the quizzes and exams area (or you will shortly in week
one), and assignment 1 in the assignments area. Additional quizzes
and assignments will appear on the dates listed in the class syllabus.
The most important link in Blackboard, however, is the class schedule/syllabus.
Keeping up with the syllabus will you to succeed in this class.
Reminders and information about assignments and quizzes will be
posted in the "announcements" area in blackboard (you can't
miss it) and will also be sent out via email from time to time.
addition to Blackboard, The Mastering Astronomy Website
is another portal to learning astronomy over the Internet. This
site is found at www.masteringastronomy.com. Please see your instructors short guide
to using Mastering Astronomy. It will save you time and possibly
a few headaches. Note that you must join the
class by using the Course ID: MAHARPELL08425
from this site are particularly useful and are a required
part of the class! You should complete the assignments listed in
the class schedule prior to taking the appropriate quiz in blackboard.
Word of warning: DO NOT IGNORE THE
Mastering astronomy website! Make sure you see the Guide
to Using Mastering Astronomy!
you purchase your text new in the bookstore, a code for accessing
the Mastering Astronomy will be included in an insert in your text.
If you purchase your book used, or elsewhere, you will need to purchase
an access code once you log on the Mastering Astronomy. The cost on-line. You will need a credit card to make the purchase. Note that this is not optional!
Astro 10 is
a one-semester introduction to the solar system. Along the way,
we will explore the motions of the stars, planets, and moons. We
will also study the Earth, inside and out (literally!), and some
of the environmental problems that we six billion humans are facing
here at home.
Using the Earth as a model, we can also learn about other worlds,
starting with the Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the outer planets, as well as the debris--comets and asteroids--still in orbit about the sun.
Finally, we will apply what what have learned about our own solar
system to the search for planets .
As part of our exploration, we will discuss theories on the formation
of the solar system and study evidence for these theories ide the solar system and the
possibility of finding intelligent life on these new worlds.
text: you need only one textbook for this class. The textbook for our course is Cosmic Perspective, The: The Solar System, 5/E by Jeffrey O. Bennett, University of Colorado, Boulder.If you click on this link, it will take you to the publisher's website showing the recomended package. You are also encouraged to purchase it at the Las Positas College bookstore if you have time to visit there in person.
Cosmic Perspective, The: The Solar System, 5/E by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider & Voit
© 2008 | Addison-Wesley |
Used Books and other options:
Many students find it cost effective to shop for books online. So if you purchase a book from any source, used or new, you purchase the book above. It will also be possible to complete the course with the 4th edition of The Cosmic perspective by Bennett or 4th edition of the Cosmic Perspective: The solar System by Bennett. However, You will be absolutely required to purchase an access code to the Mastering Astronomy. An access code comes free with the New 5th edition books, but you should check on this before ordering if order from a site other than the publisher or the college bookstore. If you buy a used book, for example, or a book that doesn't come with the access code to Mastering Astronomy, you will need to purchase your own, individual access code for approximately $27, so please factor this into the price you are willing to pay for the book!
- Computer and internet
access: Access to Computer with working high speed
internet connection at home. Although it is possible to do this class using a dial up connection, you will get frustrated on occasion, so I recommend having an alternate, faster internet source available to do your work. If your connection goes down for
a few days there are a large number of computers available on
campus at Las Positas College (try the
Learning Resource Center). Local Libraries, internet cafes,
and community colleges also have internet access. You are responsible
for keeping up with class work regardless of the status of your
internet connection! note that everything can be turned in
late for reduced credit if your internet access is temporarily
unavailable. No exceptions will be made in this regard!
Participation and Assessment ..........
Astronomy 10 will be based on your performance on 5 Mastering Astronomy
tutorial Assignments , 5 blackboard quizzes, One survey and One research assignment,
a final exam, and participation in Blackboard discussions.
Each these graded items will be discussed in more detail below.
Research Assignments :
There will be one survey
and one research assignment on special topics in Astro 10. Links
for these assignments will be found in the Blackboard
Research Assignments area. For assignment one, you will take
an online survey (Quiz 0), and then administer a different survey of basic
astronomical knowledge to a few other people. The results will
be reported in the discussion area of Blackboard. The second assignment is a report on a print article of current interest
in astronomy backed up by information
that you find on the web. More of this will be discussed below.
only criteria for choosing a topic for assignment two
is that it is directly related to course material, and that
you have access to three very recent references on the subject,
both electronic and print (at least three total--textbook not included), and that your material is current
(for example, a report of Mars should include the results of the
most recent spacecraft missions).
In particular, you are encouraged to explore areas of current
debate such as:
and search for extra-solar planets
Project Kepler to search out Earth-like Extra solar planets
Project Phoenix recently launched for the Martian Polar region
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
New Horizons Mission to Pluto and the Kipper Belt
mission to Saturn
Project Deep Impact
to Comet Tuttle.
MESSINGER mission to Mercury
Venus Express mission to Venus
of finding life on Europa or other Jovian moon
of Mars or Venus
of the Earth's atmosphere
of life on Mars
for colonizing the moon or other world.
The discovery of Trans-Neptunian
Objects such Quoar, Sedna, and the newly discovered Dwar Planet Eris.
Any other topic related to astronomy of the solar system...please check with your instructor if you wish to do something not on this list!
Crescent Moon as seen from the ISS