Unformatted Attachment Preview
Physics 120: Astronomy: From the Earth
to the Cosmos
---------An introduction to the universe, from the Earth to the most distant galaxies. Main topics include
stars, galaxies, and cosmology, in addition to foundational topics such as gravitation, light, and
matter. Primarily for non-science majors. Concurrent lab enrollment required.
4.000 Credit hours
Core B2 Natural or Lab Sci, Tuition (Sciences)
Astronomy is the oldest science. Through millennia we have watched the skies, imagined what
lies beyond them, charted and experimented, and now recently begun exploring them. Peoples
the world over, separated through time and distance, have looked to the same sky, and built
their own understanding, record, and stories of what lies above. Because of this, Astronomy has
become a fascinating field that synthesises not only science, but history, culture, belief, and
philosophy, into an awe-inspiring whole.
That whole contains literally everything; the entire universe, so we’re going to tackle as much as
we can manage in the time that we have. Expect to learn some mind blowing things about
nature, gain a deeper insight into the celestial origins of our experiences here on Earth, and with
any luck, be a bit humbled by a new sense of perspective.
Student Learning Outcomes
After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
Demonstrate understanding of and literacy in the content and principles of astronomy.
Perform laboratory procedures that explore the content and principles of astronomy.
Carry out scientific procedures in a socially responsible manner.
Accurately observe, record, analyze, and report data collected in the laboratory.
Put less rigidly: studying astronomy helps build concrete skills like data analysis and
scientifically minded thinking, but also emphasizes the interconnectedness of many distinct and
seemingly disparate parts of life, as well as ingrains a broad sense of scale and context for
ourselves and our place in the cosmos!
Live meeting - Zoom details
Meeting times: M W F 9:15am - 10:05am PST
After introductions and hellos, I’ll be recording each session and posting them on canvas. While
it is possible to watch these recordings at a later date, please do attend our sessions when
it’s possible! Much of the learning that happens in courses like these comes from dialog, and
you’ll get a lot less value dialoguing with a recording. We have a fairly small class this semester
so I hope we’ll be able to have good, fruitful discussion!
Cosmic Perspective, 9th edition by Bennett
(modified) Mastering Astronomy for online homework and lab work
You’ve got a few options for purchasing these. The easiest would be to get a digital code for
mastering Astronomy, which comes with an electronic version of the text. If you’d like to buy a
physical copy, keep in mind you *will* need a code for mastering Astronomy both for completing
homework and some of our lab activities; some versions of the book will come bundled with the
code, while others will be stand alone without it. Unfortunately most second-hand copies you’ll
be able to find won’t have the code included.
The following are some external resources I recommend. Crash course is great for exactly what
it sounds like, though it moves at a very quick pace. PBS spacetime dives into more high level
topics, but still tries to present them in an approachable way (good place to fish for project
Crash course -- Astronomy
(Rough) Course Schedule
Introduction, Tour of the Universe
Observations from Earth
The night sky and history
Light (No class Monday)
Relativity and the Sun
Mar 29th (No class
Star death (No Class Friday)
The Milky Way
Life (Last day Wednesday)
Drop deadline: Monday April 12th
Assignments and grading:
Lecture summaries: 10%
Each week you’ll complete a short summary of the topics discussed in lecture. This stands in as
a sort of attendance, checking to make sure you’re keeping engaged with class as we move
through the semester. A short 2~3 sentence recap on what we discussed is all you’ll need here.
Most weeks you’ll need to complete homework questions investigating what we covered in the
previous class sessions. These will be done using the Mastering Astronomy software.
Comprehensive Homework: 15%
At the end of the semester we’ll have 1 final, larger homework set that will cover questions
ranging over the entire semester’s topics. This will include some more difficult extra credit
questions if you’d like to take up the challenge~
First draft 10%
Final draft 15%
Listening to someone talk about astronomy is fine, but most real learning comes from your own
investigation and interests. We’ll be creating a project during the semester to give you a chance
to choose your own topic and dive into it. The topic and presentation style is completely up to
you; it could be a written article, a video, an animation, a podcast, you could make up and run
your own experiment, or you could build something!
I’ll look over your proposal and give feedback to help guide it to be sure it lies in the bounds of
astronomy (and will be interesting to research!), and I’ll similarly give feedback after your first
draft. We’ll start talking more about the projects as we get about half way into the semester, so
as we progress through class keep an eye out for subjects that you think you’d like to dive
You’re welcome to partner up with a classmate and do your project together too!
You should be co-enrolled with Phys 120L, the astronomy lab. These labs provide a more
hands-on opportunity to explore the concepts we’ll encounter in the lecture at greater depth,
guided by your lab instructor. These labs will meet weekly with a few breaks sprinkled in. I’ll post
the lab instructions for each week on our canvas page
Be sure to be diligent in these labs; they account for a significant chunk of your grade!
Your lab instructors will provide you with zoom links for your individual sessions. I’ll list the lab
sections and the lab topics below:
Mon 2:40 pm - 4:25 pm William J Golightly
Tues 9:55 am - 11:40
Tues 12:45 pm - 2:30
Tues 6:30 pm - 8:15
Week 1: 1/25-1/29
Week 2: 2/1-2/5
Lab 1 - Mathematics of the Cosmos
Week 3: 2/8-2/12
Lab 2 - Sky Navigation
Week 4: 2/15-2/19
Week 5: 2/22-2/26
Lab 3 - Force of the Cosmos
Week 6: 3/1-3/5
Lab 4 - Light and Spectroscopy
Week 7: 3/8-3/12
Lab 5 - Scales of the Cosmos
Week 8: 3/15-3/19
Week 9: 3/22-3/26
Lab 6 - Stellar Spectra
Week 10: 3/29-4/2
Lab 7 - Cosmic Evolution
Week 11: 4/5-4/9
Lab 8 - X-ray Supernova Remnant
Week 12: 4/12-4/16
Week 13: 4/19-4/23
Lab 9 - Origin of the Cosmos
Week 14: 4/26-4/30
Lab 10 - Hubble's Law
Week 15: 5/3-5/7
Final grades will be based on the categories above, with ranges as follows:
F: < 50%
General USF Policies
Students with Disabilities
The University of San Francisco is committed to providing equal access to students with
disabilities. If you are a student with a disability, or if you think you may have a disability, please
contact USF Student Disability Services (SDS) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415 422-2613 to speak
with a disability specialist. All communication with SDS is private and confidential. If you are
eligible for accommodations, please request that your accommodation letter be sent to me as
soon as possible, as accommodations are not retroactive. Once I have been notified by SDS of
your accommodations we can discuss your accommodations and ensure your access to this
class or clinical setting.
All students are expected to behave in accordance with the Student Conduct Code and other
USF upholds the standards of honesty and integrity from all members of the academic
community. All students are expected to know and adhere to the University's Honor Code.
All course communications, like all other USF communications, will be sent to your USF official
email address. You are therefore strongly encouraged to monitor that email account.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS provides confidential, free counseling to student members of our community; an online
workshop series open to all students; consultations and referrals; extensive website resources;
an all hours “warmline” (call 855-531-0761); peer-led Crisis Textline (text HOME to 741741);
remote individual and group teletherapy to students residing within California (call 415-4226352. The Dean of Students Office also offers Case Management support for those seeking off
campus mental health services.
Confidentiality, Mandatory Reporting, and Sexual Assault
For information and resources regarding sexual misconduct or assault visit the Title IX
coordinator or USFs Callisto website.