ASTR 10, Descriptive Astronomy (V0076)
Spring Semester, 2004
Instructor: Dr. Korpela
Welcome to Astronomy 10!
This course provides an introductory look at the past, present, and
future of the universe and its contents: stars, planets, galaxies, and
we humans who seek to understand them. Astronomy has repeatedly
challenged human thought, from the Copernican revolution to the recent
discovery that the universe may be not only expanding, but also
accelerating. Spacecraft have visited all of the planets except Pluto,
and powerful telescopes take us even farther out in space and back in
time. Through this course, I hope that you will gain some sense of the
excitement that astronomers feel when they study the sky. Before long,
you will be able to amaze your friends with the real story on black
holes, the Big Bang, and the search for extraterrestrial life.
COURSE GOALS: Gain an appreciation of our place in the
universe, and encourage a sense of awe about the night sky as well as
topics in modern astrophysics.
Understand what science is and is not, with particular attention to the
scientific method as it applies to astronomy.
Develop critical thinking and reasoning skills that can be applied to popular
- Dr. Korpela: firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-643-6538
- The link to old lectures was missing. It's here.
- Exam #3 will be May 27. Contact Dr. Korpela if you can't make that date!
- The extra credit assignment will be due at the final.
If you haven't been to the website before now, an introduction to its
important features can be found in the notes for the first
lectures, in the Archive of Administrative Notes.
As I said in class, those that can download materials from this site should
do so, in order to save on photocopying (and the weight of what I carry!).
- Telescope Viewing:
We've had our trip to Chabot, however,
you can go to Chabot any Friday or Saturday night. Follow the Local
Astronomy link below to investigate this and other options.
Click for details of
Chabot observatory. Look for Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the Pleiades in
the night sky! If you have binoculars, search Orion's belt for the Orion
- Binoculars: I forgot to mention in class that Big 5 Sporting Goods
in selling Bushnell 10x50 binoculars for about $100. (Thanks to Zera Powell for
I have been asked about buying binoculars for astronomy, and have
created a Binoculars for Astronomy
- Remember to look up! Astronomy is, after all, the
study of the stars etc! Think about the scale of distances,
motions and times as you gaze at the sky. If you can see
planets and/or the moon, try to picture where you are on the earth, and
where the planet is in its orbit.
exercises we've done should help.
- Planets: This week Venus in the west after sunset.
is the brightest object in the evening sky (apart from airplanes,
sun, and moon).
Jupiter is the east at sunset. Saturn is above the top of orion.
Mars can be seen faintly glowing red in the west after sunset.
- Stars: Remember that almost everything that can be seen with
the naked eye is part of our own Milky Way Galaxy! (The Andromeda Galaxy is
an exception). Notice that it's hard to see the disk of our Galaxy with
your naked eye, but we do in fact live way out on one side of that disk.
Think about which stars are likely to be young, and
which are likely to be old! Think about which are about to die, and how.
Keep an eye on Betelgeuse! Think of all the pulsars and black holes you
can't see with your naked eye! Remember that all of these objects that
you can see with the naked eye are inside our own galaxy! (Exceptions
are the Andromeda Galaxy (visible from dark locations) and the Large and
Small Magellanic Clouds (visible from the southern hemisphere).
- Resource: Go to
Sky and Telescope's Observing
page to learn about the changing sky - planets, variable stars and so on.
variable stars, and more!
Details on Upcoming Dates:
- If you cannot make one of these dates, please arrange an
- The exams will be more like the quizzes than the homeworks, in that it
will be multiple choice, true/false, and short answer.
just read the textbook without particular focus,
"What Was Important" guides to
focus your studying. In addition, the homework
solutions, in-class exercises,
ConcepTest questions, and quiz questions
highlight topics I find particularly important.
- Exam #3 will be May 27.
exams for Exam #3 MUST be completed prior to the originally scheduled exam
date. Please contact Dr. Korpela prior to May 13 if you need to reschedule.
Last Thursday Night's Lecture:
Find out what the goals of last night's lecture were in the
What Was Important notes. Some more details
are found below.
The lecture notes for this section may be found here
(powerpoint) or here (html). Notes for older
lectures are here.
Last week we discussed Einstein's special theory of relativity for the first
third of the lecture. The remainder of the lecture, I took review questions.
You may have trouble parking some Thursdays because of the basketball
games. Men's games create the most difficulty
The schedule for CAL sports may be found
If you don't yet have the text, much of the material required for Homework #1
is contained in the handouts, and the remainder can be found in
the (different) online textbook at
If you are a little confused, don't panic.
It is not my intention to fail students who attend the classes and seriously
work on all the homeworks and assignments
GENERAL COURSE INFORMATION
This website will be invaluable during this course.
Detailed announcements about the course will be posted
throughout the semester. If you're interested in
the flavour of the course, explore the FUN STUFF below!
General information and expectations are available
in the Course Syllabus and Policies (see below). You should
also note the guideline expected study times contained in
How to Succeed in a College Class.
Click the Reload Button on each page for The Latest Updates
TEXT will be The Essential Cosmic Perspective,
2nd College Edition, by Bennett et al.
This should be available from Ned's Campus Textbook Exchange on Bancroft Avenue.
You may find a better bargain on line at bn.com or amazon.com.
USEFUL COURSE STUFF
INTERESTING LINKS TO WHET YOUR INTEREST
In addition to the FUN STUFF section below:
Here's a neat online version of
The Powers of 10
to remind you of the awesome vastness of space!
Bad Astronomy in Movies Includes "Signs" and "Men In Black II"
If you're interested in the search for planets around other stars, try
The exciting Search for ExtraTerrestrial
Intelligence! For more information on the SETI projects, go to the
SETI at UC Berkeley website .
Bad Astronomy in the Media (News, Movies, TV!)
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Universe Today (Current Space News from the Internet)
Astronomy Cafe (Website for the Astronomically Disadvantaged)
Take a Virtual Voyage Through the Milky Way
Exploratorium Home Page
Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences
NASA Home Page
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