About this class:
The scope and the goals:
This is a very introductory, survey class about modern astronomy. Our goals are both to teach you about our current (and still evolving) picture of the physical universe and the remarkable objects and phenomena in it, and also about how we know that - how our observations, interpreted in a framework of physics, lead us to that understanding.
There will be two hour-long lectures per week (on Mondays and Wednesdays), and one hour discussion section (the attendance of these is mandatory), where questions will be answered, concepts clarified, and simple quantitative problems worked out (these will be an excellent practice for the homeworks). The lectures are being video recorded, and available to you via the class website. They will be also posted with a 3 week delay as a MOOC with edX.
There is no assigned textbook, but just about any modern introductory textbook on astronomy may be useful. Instead, the videos of the lectures, the slides, and links and additional readings posted on the class website can serve the same purpose. Make an extensive use of the on-line resources, and Wikipedia in particular. Suggestions for additional links are more than welcome.
50% weekly homeworks (short and easy)
20% take-home midterm
30% take-home final
-2% for each section missed
You can discuss homeworks with other students in broad terms, but everyone has to do their own solutions. No collaboration is allowed for the midterm or final exams.
There will be a class trip to Palomar Observatory, and there may be also a class trip to the Griffith Observatory.