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.
This is a "flipped clasroom" class.
It works as follows:
The class is divided into 20 thematic "lectures", 2 per week, each of which is subdivided into several short modules. There will be one weekly classroom lecture (on Mondays) that will give a quick overview of the key ideas to be covered in that week. Note: this is not a sufficient substitute for the full lectures. All of the lectures (videos + slides) are available to you on line, to watch (and rewatch as needed) on your own schedule and at your own convenience.
There will be also 1 weekly mandatory recitation section with your TA, where questions will be answered, concepts clarified, and simple quantitative problems worked out (these will be an excellent practice for the homeworks and exams). You are also strongly encouraged to interact on-line, via the class Facebook page, or other venues.
The instructor believes that you are the person who is primarily responsible for your education, and we are here to help you in that process, so if you don't want to take this class seriously (watch all the lectures, etc.), then do not take it at all.
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 the broad terms, but everyone has to do their own solutions. No collaboration is allowed for the midterm or final exams.
There will likely be a class trip to Palomar Observatory, and there may be also a class trip to the Griffith Observatory.