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.


The approach:

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.


Teaching materials:

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.


Grading scheme:

    50% weekly homeworks (short and easy)
    20% take-home midterm
    30% take-home final
    -2% for each section missed
The homework's will be posted on Friday, and be due on the next Friday. There will be no homework assigned during the midterms and finals weeks. Late homework penalty (up to one week late): 50% of that homework's score. No homeworks will be accepted beyond 1 week past the due date. Excuses: Missed section and late homework penalties will be waived for documented medical reasons. Other valid excuses may be accepted at the instructor's discretion.


Collaboration policy:

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.