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Welcome to Intro Astronomy

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  1. Welcome to Intro Astronomy AST 1001-107/108 Dr. Dan Caton Lab: Dr. Jon Saken

  2. What we will do today… • Background info • Go over course syllabus • Discuss course objectives • Why study astronomy?

  3. Astronomy at ASU • ~10-20 majors and a few grad students (prospective majors need to meet with department advisors) • I am one of 4 Ph.D. astronomers here • Me: BA & MA, USF; Ph.D. Univ. Fla.

  4. Syllabus • We will go over but not on paper – all online on WebCT

  5. Office Hours… Around more than this … MyDoor link on WebCT

  6. Telecommunication • 262‑2446 (fax -2049) • e-mail: catondb@appstate.edu (I check my e-mail all day (M-F) and will reply) • Read or forward your ASU email! • Messengers: AIM: Buddy DanielBCaton,MSN: Add contact by searching for DansDesktop@hotmail.com (I do not use the Hotmail email, so do not send messages there) • My homepage: www.Dan.Caton.name • WWW page for this course: found on the WebCT system • Dr. Jon Saken (lab) sakenjm@appstate.edu

  7. Textbooks • The Cosmos:Astronomy in the New Millennium, 2nd Ed., Pasachoff and Filippenko, 2004. This is a paperback issued to you at the bookstore under the lease plan. Note that there is a different text used by the other sections of AST 1001! Make sure you get the right book! • Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan, paperback, $15 • Introductory Astronomy Lab Manual, sold in the bookstore. You will be given a 3-ring binder in lab.

  8. Where and when… • Lecture: CAP 150, 3:30‑4:45 Tuesday & Thursday. • Lab: S306 Rankin South (not 354 as in schedule), Thursday night as scheduled. Starting this week. (May swap early/late on Thursday) • The story on lab this year …

  9. Description This course is the first of a two‑semester sequence that satisfies the Core Curriculum Natural Science requirement. It is also an ND (Numerical Data) course. This course usually covers solar system astronomy‑‑planets, the moon, comets, meteors, and some basics‑‑light, optics, and telescopes. We may elect to deviate from this approach somewhat, based on items of current or topical interest. This course is a prerequisite for AST 1002, which covers solar, stellar and galactic astronomy.

  10. Attendance… • “80% of success is just showing up” (Woody Allen) • Lecture Attendance: Lecture attendance is expected since exams are based primarily on lecture material. Attendance will also be checked with randomly given pop quizzes. Students missing lecture classes are responsible for finding out from their classmates whether there were any announced lab schedule changes. • Lab Attendance: 3 strikes and you are out, miss two outdoor labs and you are out (as well as required Intro to Telescope lab)

  11. Exams • Two one-hour exams • The Final Exam is part “Exam 3” and part comprehensive, and is scheduled for 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm, on Wednesday, December 14, 2005, here in CAP 150

  12. Special Needs Students with special disabilities are invited to disclose special needs to the instructor.

  13. Homework Homework exercises are to be done first on scratch paper and then neatly copied, in pencil, onto the paper provided, and turned in at the beginning of the class session on the due date. Messy work or folded/wrinkled/crumpled papers will receive a reduced grade. Homework grading includes grammar, spelling, and correct use of math and significant figures. No credit will be given for homework turned in after it has been graded and returned.

  14. Grades • See syllabus on WebCT for weighting of grades • + one letter based on participation, positive or negative (that’s life…). Positive: discussion, etc. Negative: interruptions, rude entry/exit, cells, etc. • Grades will be posted (WebCT) • Seniors do not have to graduate… • Projected grade scale … nominal

  15. Extra Credit Extra credit work is not assigned or accepted. This is because such work is usually done in lieu of the required work that has been assigned as part of a logically thought-out curriculum, and is thus illogical

  16. Schedule • First eight chapters in Pasachoff (shorter book) – no detailed schedule • Half of Sagan (may pick and choose) • Side discussions as news develops (example: Sun ejected Coronal Mass Ejections yesterday—aurora tonight and tomorrow night?) • We will cover the basics From Statesville SpaceWeather.com for info…

  17. Style(s) • PowerPoint (posted on WebCT). • “Chalk-talk” (though may be digital pen and posted on web) • Demonstrations (exciting and dangerous!) • Videos • Web exploration • Impromptu discussions

  18. Caffeine / nicotine break 3rd floor outside

  19. Objective #1:Scientific Method vs. Pseudoscience This will be the topic of discussion of Sagan’s book. For now…

  20. Which one of these is real science? • Astrology (horoscopes) • Homeopathic medicine • Dowsing for water • Faith healing • None of these Take a minute to discuss …

  21. Popular Astro-Pseudoscience • UFOs/Conspiracy Theory (maybe historical?) • Related (?): Brown Mountain Lights • Crop Circles, Christmas trees • Astrology … Let’s do a test

  22. Exceptions? • Skewing computer statistics • Children recalling past lives • Reading thoughts projected at you… Sagan, p. 302

  23. Scientific Method • Develop a hypothesis and make predictions based on it. • Test the predictions by experiment or, in astronomy, by observation. (Problem with UFOs) • Modify hypothesis and repeat as needed until it may develop into a substantial theory. • Theories that seem so well established that they are unlikely to be wrong are sometimes called facts. Some agreed upon, others debated (gravitation, human evolution).

  24. Occams Razor Occams Razor is a principle that says that given alternative explanations or theories that explain a phenomenon, the simplest is most likely to be true.

  25. Objective #2: Numbers • Measure, record data • Treatment of numbers (significant figures) • Computer simulations • Systems, theories and models • Theory and data match + errors

  26. Objective #3: Language • The language of science: astronomical terms • Scientific publications

  27. Objective #4: The Web • Resources (.gov, .edu …) • Evaluating a Web site – how easy it is to publish (.org, .com …)

  28. Objective #5: Science as a Human Activity • Environment • Global warming • Nuclear waste • End of oil era • Big Science $ • Science & military • “Intelligent Design” • Science in the media (have already posted some items)

  29. Importance of Astronomy? • Most noble: the quest to just know! • Fight Pseudoscience and the waste of lives (James Randi story; UFOlogy) • Practical? Spinoffs, maybe. • More essential…

  30. Deep Impact? “Back of envelope” calculation (Sagan, p. xiv)

  31. Our Sun: The Maunder Minimum

  32. Are We Alone?

  33. Our general plan this semester • Overview: appearance of the sky, distance scale of the universe • Light: production and focusing • The Changing sky: motions apparent and real • Gravitation and motion • The planets: ours and exoplanets • Construction debris

  34. For next time • Read Pasachoff, Preface and Ch. 1 • Start Sagan, Preface and Chapter 1 • Will have lab details Thursday, but get your lab manual as soon as you can. • Turn in your horoscope forms as you leave…