cartoon: sign says "Midvale school for the gifted." Student is pushing on a door with a sign saying "pull." Be sure to follow the instructions below and you will get more out of the course.

From Gary Larson. See

How to ace this course:

1. Come to class link to extra topic The lectures will help you master the material. In addition, we will occasionally have you do in-class exercises, and you will not get credit for them if you do not come and do thembuttonex.jpg (1228 bytes)

2. Take notes: you can print out a note outline for the course sections from the syllabus. Bring it to class and fill in as much of the outline there as you can - fill in the rest from the notes while you study.

3. Study the lecture notes. They include sets of questions that you should be able to answer - if you select the wrong answer, you will be linked back to the part of the notes you should study.

4. Review your written notes, any in-class and other exercises, and the questions within the lecture notes to help prepare for exams. In particular, we have collected review questions into a single file for each exam, to give you better practice! (see the syllabus for the links)

5. Relax and have a good time. Astronomy is interesting, and the course will give you a chance to sample it and enjoy it! In fact, the notes have a lot of additional material we hope you will sample.

Students with Disabilities: If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, please meet with me so that we can discuss ways to ensure your full participation in the course. If you determine that disability-related accommodations are necessary, please register with Disability Resources (621-3268; and notify me of your eligibility for reasonable accommodations. We can then plan how best to coordinate your accommodations.


1. Do the course work independently, and to the best of your ability - that way you will learn more.

2. You can work with other students when you have explicit permission from the instructor; of course, studying with them is fine and will help you learn the material as well as make new friends.

3. You must bring picture ID or you will not be allowed to turn in your exam. All cell phones and similar electronic devices must be off. Come on time; no one will be admitted to take an exam after the first person has finished and left the lecture hall.

4. We do not give makeup exams, except for extraordinary reasons. At the time of the final, however, we will let you take an additional (second) exam on material similar to that covered in any one of the previous three exams. If you have missed one of those exams, this system gives you an opportunity to recover. It also allows you to recover if you just did a bad job on one of them; we will give you the higher of the two grades.

5. Assignments not turned in on time will not receive credit (unless prior arrangements have been made).

(cartoon from Gary Larson, The Far Side)

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Plan for the course

Exams: The course has three in-class exams (each worth 100 points) and a final (200 points). At the time of the final, you can retake any one of the hourly exams in addition to the final. Your grade will be based on the higher of the two scores for this exam. Because we include the possibility for a repeat or replacement exam automatically, we do not allow you to take other make-up exams unless you have an excellent reason that you missed the official one (e.g., an athlete taking part in an official competition, or a serious illness documented by a note from a doctor).

Homework: There will be several homework assignments. The grades for the homework assignments will be scaled so the total for homework will be 200 points.

In-Class Exercises: From time to time we will do a small exercise in class to help you understand some of the concepts being discussed.The total score from the in class exercises will be 100 points. Typically we will give 10-12 of these exercises ove rthe course of the semester. You will be allowed to miss up to two exercises and still receive the full 100 points. There are no make-ups - you have to be in class to do the in-class exercise. If you do an exercise done near the start of a class but leave before the end of that class, you will not receive credit for the exercise nor will you receive credit for arriving very late to do an exercise passed out near the end of a class.

Paper: You will write a paper, due November 28. It is to be on the general topic of global warming. We know you have written on this topic before, but this paper will be a  different. You are asked to discuss the scientific basis for our ideas about global warming. We will show you how to distinguish scientific arguments that are probably valid from those that are probably not valid. The body of your paper should be 3 to 4 double spaced pages (12 pt font). However, in the bibliography you will describe in detail the reasons you believe each information source is valid (or invalid). Any conclusions in the paper need to be based on valid sources (you may want to discuss invalid ones along the way, of course). There is no page limit on the bibliography and source analyses. The paper is worth 100 points.

Final Grades: Grades are assigned on an absolute scale, that is 90% - 100% of the possible points is an A, 80% - 90% is a B, 70% - 80% is a C, and 60% - 70% is a D. Part way through the course many students feel they are doing very badly, but the chance to repeat one hourly exam and the paper generally bring the overall score up significantly. Historically, the students who do all the work in the course usually get A or B.