ASTR 101 B: Astronomy

Winter 2022
to be arranged / * *
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Astronomy 101: Introduction to Astronomy

Where did our universe come from? What's in it? And are we alone? These are some of the most natural and fundamental questions that humans have been asking since the dawn of time. In this course you'll learn modern answers to these ancient questions, you'll work directly with astronomical data, and even have a chance to direct a robotic telescope.

This course has been taught online since 2012, always in an asynchronous mode (i.e. few live meetings). If you prefer scheduled lectures, please consider the excellent A sections of Astro 101 or 150. All of these courses are open to everyone, and there are no prerequisites. We do not assume or require that you have a scientific or mathematical background. That being said, we will expect you to do some algebra. You will need to know how to use a scientific calculator and office software (e.g. Word or Powerpoint, or Google Docs). If you do not have access to these tools, please make a point of speaking with your instructor or TAs as soon as possible. 

Required Materials

  • Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos 2nd edition. Adam Frank. New York: W.W. Norton, 2019.

We've organized this course around this textbook because it's current, it presents astronomy as a story about people (because, of course, it is!), and because it's reasonably succinct. You can buy the textbook from various sources, but the print version is expensive because it includes access to resources we don't need. I recommend the ebook, available from W.W.Norton for (as of late 2021) $39.95.

Things to Know

  • Weekly Lessons: The class is organized into nine lessons, each of which is a Canvas Module ending with a quiz. Most lessons have a discussion which you must participate in multiple times per week, as well as a lab and ungraded self-checks. Success in this class hinges upon your commitment to complete assignments every week of the quarter, therefore we do not allow registrations beyond the first week.
  • Late assignments: Canvas will automatically assign a zero to work that is turned in even a second late, but we're not worried about seconds. In general we expect your work will be turned in so we can grade it in a timely fashion. However, note the availability dates on quizzes and exams and follow them carefully.
  • Academic honesty: Cheating and/or plagiarism is not tolerated. Except on the weekly lesson quizzes, you are allowed and encouraged to work with other members of the class, but all of your assignments must be in your own words with citations to other people's work. The examples of academic misconduct in the statement of Student Academic Responsibility are useful for understanding how to avoid plagiarism. In addition:
    • We use SimCheck to automatically produce originality reports for many assignments in this class. The SimCheck Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced. We expect that your SimCheck originality score is less than 25%. About SimCheck plagiarism detection.
  • The University of Washington Department of Astronomy does not tolerate harassment of any kind: Harassment is any behavior by an individual or group that contributes to a hostile, intimidating, unwelcoming, and/or inaccessible work environment. Anyone can experience harassment. If you believe that you are being harassed, the Astronomy Department's Statement on Harassment lists resources where you can find support.
  • We Follow UW Policies: We recommend reviewing the example "Syllabus Language" on the UW Syllabus Guidelines and Resources page. It may sound a bit dull, but actually it's a concise explanation of your rights and expectations.

Accommodations & Support

Support is available to discuss safety and well-being 24 hours / 7 days a week through SafeCampus. Accommodations for temporary health conditions and permanent disabilities are organized through UW DRS.

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Evaluation and Grading

Midterm and Final  -- 30% of your grade

The tests are timed, but are available for three days. See About the Quizzes and Exams for more information.

Labs -- 25% of your grade

You will work with real data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) as you learn about stars and galaxies near and far.  There are also practical labs that are intended to be demonstrations or activities you can do at home.

Discussions -- 25% of your grade

Credit will be based on the quality and timeliness of your posts and responses. Your first post in each discussion is due before the due date, read About the Discussions for all the details. You must participate throughout each week for full credit.

Quizzes -- 20% of your grade

Most lessons culminates in a timed quiz, which is available for 24-hours (midnight-11:59pm Seattle time). See About the Quizzes and Exams for more information. Canvas drops your lowest score automatically, which means you can miss an entire quiz with no impact to your grade. This is so you can take care of family emergencies, sickness, or  other short term situations.

Final Grade

Your final grade is determined by transforming your overall percentage to the 4.0 scale. A percentage score of at least 60% is required for credit. If you have chosen Satisfactory/Not-Satisfactory grading you will need a 2.0 or better to receive credit.

Catalog Description:
Introduction to the universe, with emphasis on conceptual, as contrasted with mathematical, comprehension. Modern theories, observations; ideas concerning nature, evolution of galaxies; quasars, stars, black holes, planets, solar system. Not open for credit to students who have taken ASTR 102 or ASTR 301; not open to upper-division students majoring in physical sciences or engineering. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements Met:
Natural Sciences (NSc)
Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning (QSR)
Last updated:
June 20, 2024 - 7:07 pm