ASTR 112: General Astronomy Laboratory, Spring 2018 Section 1153
Grossmont College, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Instructor: Dr. Philip Blanco
Phone: (619) 644-7312.
Meetings in Laboratory 34-104, Wednesdays 6:30-9:20pm.
Office hours: Mon/Wed 2-4:30pm, or by appointment. Please
let me know when you are coming, to avoid conflicts with students in
Tutoring in Physics Computer Room 34-108: - a schedule will be
posted on the door.
News and Links:
Week 4 lab (Feb 21): Solar system scale model.
Instructions and background begin on page 3. THERE WILL BE A PRE-LAB QUIZ
on this material, closed book. Bring a Datalink 26760 form.
Week 3 lab and quiz (Feb 14):
Mapping the Sky with Stellarium.
Also for the quiz, read
Constellations and Seasons,
and watch the two short videos on
Ecliptic and Meridian Lines
and The Zodiac constellations.
Week 2 lab and QUIZ (Feb 7): Using
the "Star Wheel" (Planisphere). Also read
Motions in the Sky.
Bring: Datalink 26760, scientific lab notebook, calculator, small stapler, pen.
Also don't forget to follow the lab safety rules, and dress warmly for your adopted star observations!
Week 1 lab: Measurements.
Please read this lab description in advance; a printed version will be provided for you in the lab.
Also please read the lab safety policies at the link below - wear closed-toed shoes and hair off the face!
A "C" or "CR" grade or higher, or concurrent enrollment in, ASTR110 or ASTR120
Designed to accompany and augment Astronomy 110 or Astronomy 120. Topics
include constellations and astronomical coordinates, astronomical
instruments, the solar system, stars and stellar systems, and the
Universe. These will be addressed using naked eye and telescope
observations, laboratory experiments, computer simulations and
ASTR 112 satisfies the General Education Science Laboratory requirement
of most colleges by covering a range of experimental topics in
To learn science is to do science, and this course will show
you how. By performing straightforward experiments and observations from
Earth, you will learn that the "scientific method" - a systematic way of
examining the natural world - is something we can all learn from, and is
not just for "scientists"!
Student Learning Outcomes:
- Students will employ laboratory equipment to obtain measurements
- Students will interpret data obtained in an experimental setting
- Students will communicate experimental results in a coherent manner
The draft laboratory and exam
schedule will be updated during the semester - please check back often.
In addition, note these important dates:
Feb 16-19 Fri-Mon: Presidents' Day holiday (campus closed)
Mar 2 Fri: Last day to apply for Pass / No Pass (CR/NCR) grading option
Mar 28 Wed: No class (Spring Break)
Apr 27 Fri: Last day to withdraw from course (a letter grade must be recorded after this date)
May 30 Wed: FINAL EXAM 6:30pm-9pm
Exam dates may change with sufficient notice. Note though that there are
no make-ups allowed for any reason. Instead, your lowest scoring mid-term exam, TWO reading quizzes,
and TWO lab reports will be dropped from your overall grade calculation.
Please inform the instructor of any conflicting final examinations as
soon as possible.
Required Course Materials:
- Scientific calculator, i.e. one which can handle powers of 10 from -99 to
+99, square and cube roots, and trigonometry functions (sin, cos, tan).
- Lab notebook with carbon-copy pages, for taking data in the lab.
You will write or type each report and attach the original pages to the report for grading.
- Recommended: Stellarium free planetarium software for your personal
computer or laptop. Some homework assignments will make use of this
software, which is also available on the Physics lab computers available
during working hours in Room 34-108. You can download Stellarium from
- Small ruler and colored pens/pencils, for diagrams.
- Datalink 26760 test forms (blue front, green back), pencil and
eraser for quizzes and final exam.
Course Assignments and Grading Policy
The approximate grading scale for this class is:
Plus and minus grades will be used to differentiate the upper and lower parts of each range.
Actual grade boundaries may change slightly, and depend on the difficulty of
quizzes and the final exam - NOT on class performance (i.e. there
is no "curve" or set quota for each grade). This means that:
| > 85% || ≈ A |
| 70 - 85% || ≈ B |
| 55 - 70% || ≈ C |
| < 55% || ≈ D or F |
- Everyone in the class can get an "A".
- You are not in competition with your fellow students. In fact,
working together in class will be actively encouraged! However, all work
submitted for grading must be your own.
Laboratory Reports (60% of final grade) There will be a laboratory
each week. Most lab reports consist of worksheets that can be completed and
handed in at the end of the lab period. A few fa16 will require some extra
work at home - these will be due at the start of the following week's lab
period. Reports can be typed, or written in black or blue pen (no pencil,
except for diagrams).
There are no make-ups for missed lab periods.
Instead, your lowest scoring TWO lab reports will be dropped from your overall
Note that while you complete the lab experiments in a group, the report
handed in for grading must be entirely your own work.
Exams (15% of total grade):
There will be 3 or 4 multiple-choice exams during the semester, to
be held at the start of the lab period. Exact dates will be announced well
in advance. Exams will be on the basic concepts which have already covered
during the laboratory periods. Note that there are no make-ups for
missed exams. Instead, your lowest exam score will be dropped from your
overall grade calculation.
To help you in each quiz, you may refer to your graded laboratory
reports from prior weeks - this is an additional "reward" of writing
complete, neat and useful reports!
Reading Quizzes (15% of total grade):
Most labs will begin with a short multiple-choice reading quiz consisting of pre-lab questions - the assignment
will be announced the previous week and posted on this web page under News. Note that there are no make-ups for
missed quizzes. Instead, your two lowest quizze scores will be dropped from your
overall grade calculation.
Final Exam (10% of total grade): Wed May 30, 6:30-9pm
The final exam will be a short but comprehensive review of all material
covered in laboratory to see how much you learned, and will consist of
multiple-choice, short answer, or diagram questions.
You may bring:
All cellphones must be "off" for tests.
Collaboration in the laboratory setting is an important part of the learning
process, and you are encouraged to help your fellow students in class. Note,
however, that any work submitted for grading must be all your own
work. If you have doubts about the allowed level of collaboration,
please ask the instructor.
Mid-terms and the final exam are be designed to test understanding, not
memory, so cheating by plagiarism or smuggling outside material will not
help you - and you will probably be caught!
Academic dishonesty is a serious action and will not be
tolerated, since it compromise the integrity of scholarship and the
value of hard-earned grades for all students at Grossmont. It
includes, but is not limited to, copying another's work, allowing
someone to copy your work, talking during an exam or quiz, giving
information to another student during an exam or quiz, using
unauthorized notes on an exam or quiz, or having another person take a
test for you.
Grossmont's policy will be strictly enforced. Cheating and plagiarism (using as one's own ideas writings, materials,
or images of someone else without acknowledgement or permission) can
result in any one of a variety of sanctions. Such penalties may range
from an adjusted grade on the particular exam, paper, project, or
assignment (all of which may lead to a failing grade in the course) to,
under certain conditions, suspension or expulsion from a class, program
or the college. For further clarification and information on these
issues, please consult with your instructor or contact the office of the
Associate Dean of Student Affairs.
"Be excellent to each other!" - Bill & Ted's Excellent
All students should be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct, which will
be strictly enforced. The Code of Conduct may be found in the course catalog.
In addition, you will be asked to read and sign a short Lab Agreement which outlines some additional safety requirements.
Arriving at class:
Attendance can be taken at any class meeting. Please arrive "ready
to learn", i.e. with your belongings in order, no food or drink, and no need
to use the restroom during lecture (see below).
If you are more than 20 minutes late to class, this will count as an
unexcused absence. Furthermore, you will probably not have enough time
to complete the lab (or quiz, if one is scheduled for that day) and so
you may be asked to leave.
Note that after 3 consecutive absences, Grossmont's policy allows the
instructor to drop a student from class, but do not assume this will happen
automatically if you simply fail to show up.
If you have a good reason to leave early, please notify the instructor.
In the Laboratory:
Safety should be a priority for all students. A separate document outlines the
laboratory safety guidelines and policies, and copies of this are posted on the walls of the lab.
You must wear closed-toed shoes
in the laboratory, and keep long hair and jewelry secured out of the way of
equipment and open flames. No food of any kind is allowed in the lab,
nor are beverages other than a bottle of water which can be closed. You
will be asked to keep your bottle of water on the side benches next to
the wall, out of the way.
Productive, respectful and safe interaction with classmates and instructor
is encouraged, while any behavior which disrupts the learning environment,
damages equipment, or compromises safety will not be tolerated.
Disruptive behavior includes talking while the instructor is talking,
chewing, gesturing, passing notes, sleeping, reading, using personal electronics, or anything unrelated to
that day's class.
Possible sanctions include ejection from the laboratory, a 2-laboratory
suspension, and disciplinary action by the college.
During the laboratory period, either silence your cellphone or place it
where you can cancel the ring-tone within 2 seconds. You should bring a
non-programmable scientific calculator to each lab period. Other devices
- including laptop computers, MP3/iPods, radios, and electronic
dictionaries are not allowed. (Printed foreign language dictionaries are
permitted, subject to instructor's approval). For safety, any earphones
or Bluetooth headsets must be removed. During exams, all
electronic devices must be switched off and put away.
To protect the privacy rights of your fellow students, and the integrity
and academic freedom of our learning environment, no recording of audio,
images, or video is permitted in this class. Use of recording devices is
considered disruptive behavior even if done in a clandestine manner.
Help is available!
In addition to office hours, please feel free to contact me via email if you
are "stuck". Also, Grossmont offers some great resources to help you do well:
Math Study Center - tutors
can help you with the calculation aspects of homework assignments (bring
your textbook and website login information with you).
- English Reading and
English Writing Center - useful if English is not your native language,
especially since Astronomy has so many new words and new
definitions for "common English" words.
- Grossmont College
Library. Copies of astronomy textbooks (e.g. Comins & Kaufman,
Bennett et al.) can be found in the Reserve collection.
- Tech Mall -
computer access for all Grossmont students. As a student in the Physical
Sciences department, you may also use the computers in Room 34-108 for
activities related to ASTR112 only.
- Supervised Tutoring Referral. Students are referred to enroll in
the following supervised tutoring courses if the service indicated will
assist them in achieving or reinforcing the learning objectives of this
course: IDS 198, Supervised Tutoring to receive tutoring in general
computer applications in the Tech Mall; English 198W, Supervised
Tutoring for assistance in the English Writing Center (Room 70-119);
and/or IDS 198T, Supervised Tutoring to receive one-on-one tutoring in
academic subjects in the Tutoring Center (Room 70-229, 644-7387). To add
any of these courses, students may obtain Add Codes at the
Information/Registration Desk in the Tech Mall. All Supervised Tutoring
courses are non-credit/non-fee. However, when a student registers for a
supervised tutoring course, and has no other classes, the student will
be charged the usual health fee.
- Disabled Student Programs and
Services in Room 110 - specialized services including an Assistive Technology
Center. Students who need accommodations for their disabilities are
encouraged to contact Disabled Students Programs (619-644-7112 voice
or 619-644-7119 TTY) as early in the semester as possible so that reasonable
accommodations can be implemented.
- Student Career Center
and Job Placement
Philip Blanco, Astronomy Laboratory, Grossmont College