AST 1001.1 Spring 2019   

T,Th  9:45-11:00 am B20 Tate  Exploring the Universe   

   Lawrence Rudnick (Doc R), Tate 275-02  x4-3396
Office Hours: Th 11am-noon, or by appointment
TA Office Hours:  see hours on door  or at


Please read the entire syllabus carefully; you are responsible for all of the requirements and procedures described here. You are also responsible for all announcements, assignments, changes, etc., whether or not you are in class.  Assignments and other information on CANVAS.  You are responsible for all material there.

AST 1001 satisfies Liberal Education Physical Science w/Lab and the Environmental Theme requirement. The course introduces you to a wide range of topics, from the Solar System and the cosmos, to the physical principles that underlie the workings of the Universe. The integrated study of the physical principles and the systems they apply allow you to see Earth in a broader context, and provides you with a unique perspective on our home planet and its environment. A key component of the course is an understanding of how science approaches the physical world around us. Environmental theme topics are addressed in both lectures and labs.

Due Dates


Mid-Term 1: Thurs, Feb 28, during class period.  Location to be announced
Mid-Term 2: Thursday, Apr 4 during class period.  Location to be announced.
Final:  Monday, May 13, 8:00am-10:00am . Location to be announced

Room assignments for the exams will be announced in class and posted on CANVAS.

Planetarium visit: Bell Museum
Required, obtain tickets in Lab, one of   Feb 5 (5-6pm);  Feb 5 (6-7pm);  Feb 8 (5-6pm); Feb 8 (6-7pm);  Feb 13 (5-6pm)

Observational Project

Friday, Feb 22,  3 pm. 
    Part I: At least 3 observations entered ONLINE and paper photo-copies of Observing Form in  AST1001 mailslot near B85
Monday Mar 25,  3 pm.
    Part II: At least 9 total observations entered ONLINE and paper photo-copies of Observing Form in  AST1001 mailslot
Friday, Apr 26, 3 pm

    Final Report: Final observations (a total of at least 15) entered ONLINE and paper photocopies with the Final Report due in AST1001 mailslot

Required Texts/Materials


• On-line required through Mastering Astronomy: The Essential Cosmic Perspective, 8e, Bennett and Donahue,
 (See CANVAS for details)

• Lab Manual (required): Astronomy 1001/1001H Laboratory Manual 2018-19 (available in the Bookstore)

• Bring  your voting card (to be distributed) to class each day




Total Points 

% of Grade 

12 Labs + Planetarium  (20 points each)


26% See Note Below!

Observational Project Total


14% See Note Below!

On-line (Mastering Astronomy) -



Class participation (submitted on-line)






Final Exam



Total for the Course



NOTE!  In order to receive a passing grade in the class you must earn at least 50% of the total available lab points (130/260) AND at least 50% of the total available Observational Moon Project points (70/140). In addition, you must take all three exams.

Grading will be assigned approximately as follows based on past experience: A: 900 - 1000; B: 800 - 899; C: 700 - 799; D: 600 - 699; F: 0 - 599 (You must receive a 'C-' or better to receive a grade of 'S'.)

Keep copies of all materials upon which you are graded (laboratory reports, observational project assignments, and examinations) until the end of the semester.   Students are expected to review their grade summaries for accuracy periodically during the semester and after the final examination.   Discrepancies should be reported to Angie Stehr in the office of the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics (Room Tate 275-00; Phone: 612-624-4811;

Course Policies and Procedures

Special Needs - Any students with special learning needs must contact their professor during the first two weeks of class.

Student Mental Health Services As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a your ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Student Mental Health Website at

Academic Standards - The scholastic conduct and classroom procedures of the Office of Community Standards will be followed. You are responsible for being familiar with these. Students are welcome to work together, exchange ideas, etc.   For the on-line assignments, you must log in individually, and provide your own answers, even if you talk things over with another student.  under For the Moon Project, EACH STUDENT MUST MAKE HIS/HER OWN OBSERVATIONS/ MEASUREMENTS AND OWN CALCULATIONS. Copying of someone else's measurements or calculations or any answers not derived from your own observations  are equivalent to cheating and will be handled accordingly.

Examinations Room assignments for the exams will be announced in class and posted on the course website. Bring two pencils and a photo-ID to all exams!. Exams will consist of approximately 1/2 multiple choice 1/2 long answer questions, including diagrams.  In order to take a makeup exam, you must receive PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION from Doc R.  Make-up exam formats will be at the discretion of Doc R., and may be a combination of multiple choice, essay and/or oral questions.  Your midterm exams will be returned to you in your lab. If you feel there is a mistake on the multiple choice portion of your exam, please see the secretary in Tate 275-00   -- you must bring with you your returned multiple choice questions, with your answers indicated.

You are allowed to bring in one 8 1/2 x 11” page of notes covered on one (both) sides to the midterms (final).
You will not need a calculator for the exams, so calculators are prohibited.

Observational Project Information START MAKING OBSERVATIONS RIGHT AWAY! don't miss a clear night/day! Every term there are a few students who put this off. IT IS NO FUN, SO GET STARTED!! Always save the original copy of your observation log, and turn in a photocopy.

TENTATIVE COURSE SCHEDULE (updates announced in class)



Chapter Reading (approx.)

Labs (by week)
and Due Dates

Jan 22, 24

A Perspective on Astronomy 

1, 2

No Labs

Jan 29, 31

History of Astronomy, The Human’s View of the Environment, Matter and Energy, Universal Motion


plus optional Moon Observing Sessions, to be announced

Feb 5,7

Energy, motion, Light and Telescopes 

4, 5


Feb 12, 14

Light and telescopes



Feb 19 ,21

Solar system overview; Earth & Terrestrial Planets

6 .

    Moon Project 1 due 2/22

Feb 26

Terrestrial, Jovian planets

7, 8


FEB 28


Review questions (to be posted)

Mar 5, 7

Asteroids, comets, exosolar planets

9, 10


Mar 12, 14

Sun,  Stars and their Properties

11, 12


Mar 26, 28

Star Formation and Stellar Evolution

13, 14

    Moon Project 2 due 3/25

Apr 2

Apr 4

Stellar graveyard



Review questions (to be posted)


Apr 9, 11

Milky Way, other galaxies

15, 16


Apr 16, 18

Galaxy evolution, Birth of Universe



Apr 23, 25

Birth and fate of universe

17, 18

    Final Moon Due 4/25

Apr 30, May 2

Cosmology: birth and death of the universe

18, 19

No labs

May 13


Review questions (to be posted)

Plus Final Essay question (below)

A NOTE ABOUT RELIGION and related matters

    This is a science course, not one on religion.  However, the material we discuss may well intersect with your beliefs about the world and your place in it.  Whether you are a believer, a non-believer, or a questioner, my hope is that you will take the opportunity, during and after the class, to explore these intersections.  In fact, our final essay question (see below) asks you to discuss how your views of the world may or may not have changed during the semester.  At the same time, for our classroom discussions, and especially on tests and homework, it is important to remember that your prime responsibility in class is to understand and communicate what scientists have learned and concluded about the universe, independent of  your own beliefs.  Please feel free to seek clarification from me if you have any questions, or just to chat about these issues.  Per aspera ad astra,  Doc R.

you may complete this during the exam or bring it in already printed out.  Name and Lab Section on top)

     Discuss one or more ways in which your worldview (your set of assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, understandings) have changed as a result of this class.  Do NOT simply describe things you have learned, but how your THINKING is different as a result of what you've learned.   If your worldview did not change in any way, then you should describe how you integrated the new information that you learned in this class into your existing worldview.
      There is no "correct" answer to this question.  You will be graded for your thoughtfulness, appropriateness to the course, and clarity of expression.  Your answer should be 250-300 words in length.  You may bring in the answer to this question already prepared (with your name and lab number at the top), in addition to your other notes, or you may write the answer during the exam.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What advice do previous students have for doing well in this course?

A: Every semester all students are asked "what could you have done to improve your performance in this class." The overwhelming majority of students answer: "Attend more lectures and keep up with the readings in the textbook instead of waiting for the exam."

Q: What if I miss a lecture? Things go by too fast for me to write everything down.

A: PDFs of all lectures will be available on CANVAS, although they will differ somewhat from what is presented in lecture.  You can print out pdf versions of them beforehand to take notes on, minimizing the amount you have to write.  Audio recordings of all lectures are also available on CANVAS.

Q: I think that the lectures are going too fast.

A: Studies have shown that when students read the textbook before the corresponding lecture, problems with the lecture going too fast evaporate.

Q: What do I do if I can't make it to my assigned lab?

A: Contact your lab instructor as quickly as possible. If you have advance notice you can usually arrange to take the lab with a different section during the same week. Email the instructor of that lab to get permission, or if it is unavoidable, show up at the lab and ask if you can join in.   (We change the lab set-ups each week, so it is important to get to a different lab section that same week.)   By all means try not to miss a lab. Missing a lab is equivalent to getting ~10 questions wrong on a midterm exam.

Q: Where are the exams given?

A: The midterm exams are given during class hours, the final exams are given at a University designated time. Because the classroom is full, the exams are normally given in either a very large lecture hall or split into different rooms in order that there be space between students during the exam. These exam room assignments will be announced in lecture  and provided on the Ast 1001 website under the Exams link (

Q: What do I do if I can't make it to an exam?

A: Contact me as soon as possible. All makeups require my written permission before the exam. 

Q: Are the midterms graded on a curve?

A: For each midterm you are given a certain number of points. At the end of the course, these points are all added up and you are assigned a grade. Thus, there is no assignment of grades for each midterm.

Q: How can I find out my exam and lab scores?  My on-line scores?
A: All scores are available through CANVAS.
Q: All of my assignments are given points, not grades. How can I estimate my grade in the course?

A: Add up all of your grades  divide by the total available at any point in the course, and compare to the preliminary grade distribution given in your syllabus.

Q: I want to take an observation for my moon project, but I can't find the moon.

A: Part of the moon project is realizing that the moon is up during the daytime about 50% of the time and that when the moon is in the new phase, you can't see it. Check for moon rise and moon set times in the paper or on-line and look for the moon between those two times.

Q: Where do I  submit my moon project observations?

A: Next to room Tate B85 are a set of mailslots with Lab Section numbers on them. 
Put PHOTOCOPIES of your moon observations there.  In order to be graded, your moon observations MUST  a) Be stapled together if multiple pages;  b) Have your name on it; and c) Have your LAB SECTION on it.  See info sheets outside the lab room,