Tvashtar Volcano on Io Seen by New Horizons Heading towards Pluto
Credit & Copyright: NASA
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.
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 within the solar system and the
possibility of finding intelligent life on these new worlds.
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 CLASS ID: :MAHARPELL82258
- complete Research Assignments (1 survey, 1 proposal, 1 research Project)
- participate about discussion board topics (5 Questions of the week, 5 Quiz discussions, optional topics of Interest)
- take a final exam
These items, and the grading rubrics for each, will be discussed in more detail below. My best advice is to try to
do something related to astronomy every day until
you find a pace that works.
will be based on total points as follows:
- 5 assignments
from Mastering Astronomy --100 points Mastering Astronomy scores will be weighted in the students favor--if you get 80% or higher on an assignment, you will get all possible points. For more detail, see the guide to mastering astronomy.
- 5 online quizzes
- One survey assignment -20 points
- One Research Assignment 50 points
- a final exam 75
- course participation
in Blackboard discussion Area. 65 points
total = 560 points
note that by checking "my
scores" in blackboard, you can see how you have done
on individual assignments.Points subtracted from late
quizzes will not show up in blackboard until the end of
the class. Mastering Astronomy scores will also not appear
in blackboard during the semester. Also note that You can keep track of
your progress on tutorials by viewing the "results reporter"
in the Mastering Astronomy web site. Finally, note that you cannot
drop the class after the NGR and W deadlines listed in the
class schedule, even if you are not doing well. Likewise,
incompletes will only be allowed if there is verifiable medical
Grades (out of 560 possible points)
started in Astro 10 DE
As many of you
of you have already discovered, the first "portal" for
your learning experience is Blackboard.
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).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 Class ID: MAHARPELL82258
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. Late Assignments will lose 5% of the possible points per week.
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!
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 recommended 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!
Participation and Assessment
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 three 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
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 Dwarf 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!
Credit & Copyright: Mark A. Garlick (Space-art.co.uk)
Of course, there
a large number of choices, too numerous to list here. Once you have
selected a topic, the requirements are listed below
1. Research, outline,
and develop a small power point presentation, web page, or paper--with
text equivalent to at least four pages of double spaced twelve point
type in length-- and submit it on or before the due date listed
in the class syllabus. Attempts to make your projects appear
longer by using spaces and larger type won't go over well!......Inserting
properly referenced images in your paper is a wonderful (and strongly
recommended)idea, but they must lengthen your paper beyond three pages. In Lieu of a formal paper, you are strongly encouraged to create a
web site or Power point presentation with illustrations, links, etc., so long as the text content is still equivalent to at least three
double spaced and typed pages. In all cases, you must reference
your sources. Whether you create a web page, type
a formal paper, or create a power point presentation is completely
up to you. You will submit your assignments
by clicking on the link in the blackboard assignments area and uploading
your paper or presentation from your computer (If you do a web page,
you can simply include a link). You must also submit your work to "Turnitin.com" before submitting it to your instructor. More information on to do this will be in the Research Assignment area of Blackboard.
Note that your topic must not focus
on material generally discussed in the other astronomy course taught
at Las Positas College, namely astronomy 20. These "forbidden" topics
include Black Holes, Stars, Galaxies, Cosmology, and Dark Matter.
You are expected to make
frequent use of the discussion area in Blackboard to post questions,
provide feedback to your classmates, and simply discuss topics of
interest to you. This area constitutes your "attendance"
in Astronomy 10. More importantly, however, it will be a primary learning
tool, allowing you to explore astronomy by interacting with others.
You will find that as your knowledge of astronomy grows, your ability
and desire to write about it will grow as well. Many posts in astro
10 concern the five quizzes--you will see that there is a discussion
area for each quiz where you can post questions and receive help for
each quiz. Guidelines for this process are discussed below. There will also be a section entitled Question of the Week (though there will be new questions only ever two or three weeks) where you are asked to comment on a question posted by your instructor each week. Hopefully, the posts will not be limited to a simple reply, but will be part of discussion between your classmates and yourself.
Points for your Posts
In some cases, assignments
will require you to post items in the discussion area. For these posts,
you will receive a set number of points toward your final grade. A
larger number of points, however, will be given at the instructors
discretion for your participation ....i.e., The frequency and quality
of your responses to the posted items from your classmates. The idea
of the discussion board is simple. Check in frequently, and post items
of interest to you, and respond when you can. It is hoped and expected
that all students will receive full credit for this portion of the
class. Your feedback will help the instructor make this area more
interesting and useful for everyone. For an "A" grade
in the discussion area, you are expected to post to the discussion
board at least 14 times per semester. More posts are fine--The quality of your posts will also determine your grade on the discussion board. For more info, check out:Rubrics for the Discussion Area.
will be 5 blackboard quizzes on dates given in the schedule. These
Quizzes will be based on textbook material, Mastering Astronomy tutorials,
and required class lectures and links found in the Lectures and Links page in blackboard. As part of your mastering astronomy assignments, you will also take "textbook
quizzes". The results of these quizzes are part of your score in the mastering astronomy assignments, but more importantly, they will definitely provide an "edge"
on the blackboard quizzes...in fact some questions in blackboard come
directly from the Mastering Astronomy quizzes and tutorials!
due dates are listed in the syllabus, and in the Blackboard quiz area
(so you can't miss hearing about them). Quizzes will generally
be "open" meaning that you can take as long as you want
to complete them (within the allotted period), and use whatever resources
you find useful. Feel free to print them out and work on them off-line
until it is time to submit them. (See "cheating"
vs. "fair use" guidelines for quizzes below). In other
words, the quizzes are not timed.
If you fail to submit a quiz
by the due date, you can still submit it late, but you will be subject
to a penalty (see below). Quiz problems will be generally be multiple
Warning: If you try to take the quiz in one sitting
you are not likely to do well!! Thinking of them as a type of homework
is most likely to produce good results!
the instructor fails to post a quiz on time, there will be no exceptions
made to this policy I.e., If you had to work, or were ill, or had
a relative in need of care, or if your internet service provider went
off line, you will still miss at least 10% on that quiz if its late.
I apologize for this strict policy, but 10% on a single quiz is very
unlikely to harm your overall grade (see the grading policy above).
On the other hand, please feel free to let me know if there are legitimate
problems going on.
if you expect to see a quiz when you log in and it is not there, don't
panic, and please don't send threatening emails to your instructor.
You will not be penalized for "glitches" on the instructors
end. Running a distance ed class (or two) is quite complicated ...stuff
happens....I'll do my best to try to avoid problems, but when they
do I will also do my best to resolve the problem in as painless a
manner as possible.
There is one final exam, mostly essay format-- in counterpoint
to the quizzes which are multiple choice. There will also be a few multiple choice questions, but these should be quite simple if you have made an effort to learn something about astronomy! You must take the final
sometime during the dates listed in the schedule. The final exam is vital for your final grade, so
please mark the dates on your calendar. You will receive announcements
in blackboard ahead of time to help you prepare for the exam.
For the Final, you will have three and a half hours to complete it once you start. One week prior to the final, a set of questions will be sent out to help you prepare.
final exam cannot be taken late or early unless PRIOR arrangements
have been AGREED UPON by the instructor and student. There will
be no exceptions to this policy.
In my opinion
(as both an instructor and a long time student) there are three important
components to learning a subject: learning on your own, learning by
interacting with others, and getting feedback to see whether you really
understand something. In Astronomy 10, I wish to strongly encourage
all three methods. Most of your assignments will be designed to do
just that, getting you to do some research to answer questions that
will pique your interest and help you learn, and then discuss the
responses with others, either in person or through the discussion
area. The quizzes, however, represent a bit of a gray area. On the
quizzes, you will be asked a series of questions (multiple choice)
that test your understand of a topic, or at least your familiarity
with the learning resources (i.e. where to find the answer in the
text, or on the web). So
here is the dilemma: Should you ask a classmate or someone else about
quiz questions? The answer is "sometimes." To make this
a bit less cryptic, here is how you cheat
on a quiz or exam:: Student A takes the quiz or exam and
submits his or her answers. Feedback is automatically output for for
each question. Student B then gets the feedback (i.e. the correct
answers) from Student A and uses those answers to get a higher score
on the quiz. Here
is how you interact fairly for a quiz:
1) send an e-mail
to the instructor asking specific questions, or...
2) Use the discussion
area to ask your classmates where to look for information leading
to the answer (there will be a separate category in the discussion
area for each quiz, where you can post questions and helpful information
about where to look!)
3) talk it over with someone in the class or outside the class, until you feel you understand the topic, and then select your own answer!
It is difficult for the instructor to be positive if a student is
or is not taking a quiz fairly, it is usually easy enough to tell
by comparing the times that a quiz is submitted with the score, and
by comparing performance on the exams with performance on quizzes.
Such problems are rare at Las Positas, but they have occurred. In
particular, students have failed the course for collaborating on the
Getting Help If you are having problems
logging into blackboard, or with any other technical (i.e. computer
or web) issues that are preventing you from doing course work, please
education supportFor questions regarding
grades, course material, quizzes, assignments, late work, and
of course astronomy concepts and information, please contact your
instructor at: email@example.com.
You will generally get a response within two days (and usually
one). If you don't get a response after two days, please try again!
I never ignore emails from students, so you don't get a reply,
something went wrong in cyberspace. Mastering Astronomy maintains their
own on-site support, so please contact them, and let your instructor know
if you are having site-specific problems.
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