Astronomy - Honors Section
PH  2300.H1 (3 credits)
Spring 2004
Dr. Mark P. Turski
232b Boyd Hall – west wing, north side
email -

Home page -
Office Hours:  W 1:30-2:30 pm, T&R 3:30-4:45pm


Comins, N.F. & Kaufmann, W.J. (2003) Discovering the Universe (6th 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. If you use a reference for any of the papers you write for me you must include a bibliography. It should be formatted as APA or MLA.


Exams                   20%
Sci Fi Stories         25%
LPs                       10%
HW                       45%    one assignment dropped

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 2/10/04
    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 2/17/04
        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) – seperate handout Due 2/24/04

Starry Night  (HW)
– you will have two activities that use the Starry night planetarium program. Due 3/4/04

 Biographies  (HW) -  You will prepare a short ( presentation using the presentation software of your choice (providing that it is on the class computer) for the class on a person (non-astronomer) who lived in the time between Copernicus’ and Newton’s birth.  This person should be somebody who exerted a profound influence on your major and you need to comment on that.  If you are undecided, as a major, pick someone who has influenced an area of interest to you. This will be done in two person groups (upper class students will be matched with first year students). First come first serve on “Famous People”. This will be graded in the following manner: Presentation Rubric. Due 3/9/04

Review of the Literature (HW) -  There are three sections to this project: 1. general magazines, 2. science magazines/ journals, 3.astronomy website
1. General Magazines - read one current (less than 2 yrs. old) astronomy article that appears in a non science magazine. The original article must be at least 3 pages long. Write a short summary ( ~300-400 words). This will be graded in the following manner:
        Content - 3 pts
        Structure - 3 pts
        Grammar, spelling, and punctuation - 2 pts
        Readability - 2 pts
        Total - 10 pts
Due 3/16/04

2. Science magazines - read one astronomy article from a science magazine or journal.  Write a short summary (~ 800 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 4/20/04

3. Astronomy Website Review – you will review and post to website a review of a website that deals with astronomy or astronomy education. One one person may review a given website. This will be posted to WebCT for all to view. You will need to attach a WP document that I can download and grade. The final copy of this review must be posted by 3/30/04. Yes if you are thinking of posting it earlier and you get feedback from other students that allows you to revise your thinking and/or writing feel free to do so. This will  graded in the following manner:
        Content - 4 pts
        Structure - 2 pts
        Grammar, spelling, and punctuation - 2 pts
        Readability - 2 pts
        Total - 10 pts

Learning Projects (LP) - You will be required to find an astronomy activity or activities and carry out the activity. You must get the activity approved by me in advance.

Sun/Moon Project (HW) - separate handout

Science Fiction Story Summary/Review - You need to read, review and summarize two (2) science fiction stories. 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. See the attachment for the review format. This will be graded in the following manner:

Structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation- 3 pts
Content - 4 pts
Readability - 3 pts
Total - 10 pts  -> Total writing grade 20 pts

No bibliography    -.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

 Do NOT plagiarize.
     Lamson Library’s web page has style guides and there are many good links on plagiarism. It only takes me several minutes to find an online plagiarized source. Type plagiarism in on Google and you’ll see one reason why getting caught is easier than ever. I will give you a zero (0) on the assignment and I think I’m being easy compared to other faculty. Please reference appropriately for all involved.

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    
    Why Study Astronomy Due - 2/10
    Chp 1& 2 - lecture, video - Creation of the Universe
    HW: Read Chp 3-4

Week 3    
    Draw Your Own Constellation Due – 2/17
    Nature of Light - lecture, video - Science Revises the Heavens
Week 4    
    Night Sky Observation Due –2/23
    Chp 3 - lecture
    slide shows - Light pollution & telescopes, & The Sky at Many Wavelengths, video - The Astronomers  
    HW: Read - Build Your Foundation II, Starry Night Activities

Week 5    
    Starry Night Activities – Due 3/4
    Chp. 3 & 4 - lecture, video - Savage Sun
    HW: Read Chp 5

Week 6
    Biography Presentations – Due 3/9
    Chp. 5 - lecture, video - The Living Machine
Week 7
    Lit. Review General Magazine due 3/16
    Exam #1 – 3/18

Week 8 –
    Lit. Review – Website Review due 3/30
    No Class – 4/1 I will be at conferences

Other Due Dates:
Scifi Review #1 - 4/6
Lit Review – Science  - 4/13
Scifi Review #2 - 5/4
Moon Observations - 5/13
LP – 5/18
Final 5/18 – 11 AM