This is only an example of what the syllabuse will look like. I change it from year to year.


Astronomy - Honors Section

PH 2300.H1 (3 credits)

Spring Semester

Dr. Mark P. Turski

232b Boyd Hall - west wing, north side

535-2749, email -

Home page -

Office Hours:  as listed on my website and by appt.




Comins, N.F. & Kaufmann, W.J. (2005) Discovering the Universe (7th ed.)




This course is intended for non-science majors. The emphasis of the course will be on the nature of science, and the impact of science on society and technology through the study of historic and current astronomy topics.

The course will attempt to introduce you to a range of astronomy concepts. In this way, you should gain an understanding of the fundamental laws that govern the universe and develop an appreciation for the nature of astronomy research and science research in general.

The course is based on several fundamental learning outcomes. After studying astronomy, you should:

1. have gained a knowledge of facts, concepts and principles related to the major topics in astronomy, in other words become scientifically literate in some of the key concepts;

2. be able to use and understand methods of science (science processes) as ways to acquire new knowledge;

3. communicate the key concepts through the use of mathematical relationships, including tables, graphs and algebraic expressions;

4. be able to process astronomy information and make responsible decisions regarding science and technology issues;

5. be aware of how astronomy affects other areas such as law, politics, and the economy of a nation;

6. communicate the knowledge gained to your peers and professors in both written, visual and verbal mediums.




1. Attendance is up to you. However, you are responsible for what ever happened while you were gone. (But before you skip see Grading below.) If you miss class I do not need to know why except for a long term illness. (See #5 below) Use common sense if it snows and you commute. I DO NOT consider Fox Park commuting!

2. Specific requirements include textbook reading, writing assignments, homework, evening observing session & attending a planetarium show. Students are expected to be active participants in class activities and determining the focus and topics of discussion.

3. Grading - Exams - There will be two (2), they are comprehensive. Specific grade procedures are given with any other assignments.

4. Late work - The highest grade late work can earn is an 80. It will lose 10 points each additional day it is late after the first day. (Not class session). After four (4) days it will not be accepted.

5. Long term illnesses require documentation from a physician. I consider a long term illness to be one that requires a stay in a hospital, infirmary or prolonged bed rest. I will recommend a drop if this occurs.

6.You must write a bibliography for any paper you write for me. This includes the original article or story you may be reviewing. If you used any other sources they should be referenced in the paper. They should be formatted as APA or MLA.




Grades %  
Exams 30  
Sci Fi stories 20  
Homework 50 your lowest grade from the assignments will be dropped. You can skip an assignment but this is a dicey choice.
Total 100  





Final grades will be assigned according to the following scale:


100 - 94 - A                        93.9999 - 90 - A-

89.9999 - 87 - B+           86.9999 - 83 - B                                82.9999 - 80 - B-

79.9999 - 77 - C+           76.9999 - 73 - C                                72.9999 - 70 - C-

69.9999 - 68 - D+          67.9999 - 66 - D                                65.9999 - 65 - D-                             

<65 - F


I DO NOT SCALE and There is NO Extra Credit!



Assignments Explained(?)


Why Study Astronomy (HW) - A short paper on why we should study astronomy. You will be graded on how well the paper is written. Two page maximum. Due

                  Structure - 4 pts

                  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation - 3 pts

                  Readability - 3 pts


Draw Your Own Constellation (HW)- Using the star map draw your own constellation and write its mythology. This will be graded on how well it is written. Two page maximum. Due

                  Structure - 4 pts

                  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation - 3 pts

                  Readability - 3 pts

                  Creativity - 1 pt (You need to really WOW me.)

                  Total: 11 pts


Observing the Night Sky (HW) – separate handout Due




Review of the Literature (HW) - There are two sections to this project:

1. Science magazines - read one astronomy article from a science magazine or journal. Write a short summary (~ 800 – 1,000 words – two pages). The original article must be at least 4 pages long. This will graded in the following manner:

                  Structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation- 2 pts

                  Content - 3 pts

                  Readability - 2 pts

                  Difficulty of topic - 3 pts ( Top of the line Journals get 4 pts - but beware!) Total - 10 pts

Due 3/30


2. Astronomy Website Review – This will consist of two parts: 1. a short 6-8 slide PowerPoint (maximum time 10 minutes) group presentation and will be graded using the presentation rubric and, 2. a two page paper (~800-1000 words). This will graded in the following manner: You will be give several guidelines to follow for reviewing the website. You need to have your website approved by me in advance. First come first served on websites. You will get two grades for this: one for the presentation as a group and one for the individual paper. Due

                  Content - 4 pts

                  Structure - 2 pts

                  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation - 2 pts

                  Readability - 2 pts

                  Total - 10 pts



Sun/Moon Project (HW) - separate handout Due 4/27


Science Fiction Story Summary/Review Grading Rubric - You need to read, review and summarize a science fiction story. The sum/rev needs to discuss (ex. right vs. wrong) at least four points that relate to astronomy. Write a short paper (~800 words - 2 page) for each story. I will email you several examples of acceptable papers. See the attachment for the review format. Due

This will be graded in the following manner:

Structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation- 3 pts

Content - 4 pts

Readability - 3 pts

Total - 10 pts


No bibliography or incorrect format -.5-1.0       from final grade


Restructure                               -.5       S                                                   ROS                        -.3            S

?                                                        -.3       R                                                 NAS                        -.3            S

syntax                                           -.3       G                                                  Lost me                -.3            R

¶                                                        -.4       S                                                   ref                              -.3            S

NC                                                  -.3       R                                                  transition              .3              S

WW                                               -.2       G                                                  choppy                  -.3            R

spell                                                -.3       G                                                  no intro/concl   -1.0         S

wk intro                                      -.5       S                                                   wk concl              -.3            S


Mark Turski

PH 228 - Astronomy

Dr. Stuffedshirt



Nordley, G. David (1998). A Life On Mars, Analog, July/August, pp. 68-90.


                  Pete Nelson has a big problem. His ex-wife who had abandon him and their daughter has had a major accident and needs a lung transplant. The catch - she is on Mars and the matching donor, her daughter, is on the Moon. This story deals with the problems of how to get to Mars from the Moon before the ex dies and the personal and ethical dilemmas that can arise.


                  The science in this story is very good. Nordley incorporates many facts to give the story credibility, taking well-known principles and extrapolating how they may be used with future technologies and the problems of applying the technology in the face of “real life” situations. The following four items are examples of correct scientific principles or astronomical references that are in the story. The name of one of the space craft is the Edmund Halley which is named after the British astronomer. During communications between Moon and Mars there is a 3.5 minute lag time which corresponds to the time it would take a transmission traveling at the speed of light to reach Mars from Moon. The locations of settlements on Mars correspond with current geographical locations. The theoretical spacecraft involved has a way to shield the occupants from radiation.


                  Overall the story has an interesting plot and is scientifically sound. Some of the discussions of Newtonian physics would be difficult to follow for someone with a weak math background but these discussions can be skimmed without detracting from the overall story line. I would highly recommend this story to anyone who has an interest in good technical science fiction.


Tentative Schedule to Exam #1


Week 1

                  Syllabus review, What is Science?

                  Videos- Powers of Ten, It Started with the Greeks,

                  Structure of the Universe, Chp. 1 - Lecture

                   HW: Read:     Build Your Foundation I, Chp.1 & 2


Week 2                

                  Chp 1& 2 - lecture, video - Creation of the Universe

                  HW: Read Chp 3-4


Week 3                

                  Nature of Light - lecture, video - Science Revises the Heavens

Week 4                

                  Chp 3 - lecture

                  slide shows - Light pollution & telescopes, & The Sky at Many Wavelengths, video - The Astronomers

                  HW: Read - Build Your Foundation II

Week 5                

                  Chp. 3 & 4 - lecture, video - Savage Sun

                  HW: Read Chp 5


Week 6

                  Chp. 5 - lecture, video - The Living Machine


Week 7

                  Exam #1 – 3/14


Week 8 –

Week 9