Astro 4B, Section 2, MWF 2:00 - 2:50

Professor: Chris Taylor                                                                                               Office: 438 Sequoia Hall

Phone: 278-6480                                                                     Office Hours: M/W 1:00 - 1:50; Th: 3:00 - 3:50
  E-mail: ctaylor (at)                                                                                                also by appointment 

Class announcements

Jan. 27
First Day of Class! A printable copy of the syllabus is available in PDF format.
Mar 13
The answer key for Exam 1 is available.
Apr 14 The answer key for Exam 2 is available.


Week of
Material Covered
Jan. 27, 29, 31
Chapter 1 -- Charting the Heavens.  Introduction
Feb. 3, 5, 7
Chapter 1 (continued), Chapter 2 -- The Copernican Revolution. 
Size Scales       The Scientific Method
The Celestial Sphere       Motions of the Earth
Feb. 10, 12, 14
Chapter 2 (continued).
Lunar Phases and Eclipses    Prehistoric Astronomy
Greek Astronomy   Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler      Galileo
Feb. 17, 19. 21

Chapter 2 (continued), Chapter 3 -- Radiation.
Laws of Motion and Gravity      Escape Velocity and Tides
Basics of Light      The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Feb. 24, 26, 28
Chapter 3 (continued), Chapter 4 -- Spectroscopy. 
Blackbody Radiation      Energy
Atomic Structure     Energy Levels
Mar. 3, 5, 7
Chapter 5 (continued), Chapter 5 -- Telescopes.
Kirchhoff's Laws      The Doppler Effect
Telescope Basics
Mar. 10, 12, 14
Chapter 5 (continued), Chapter 16 -- The Sun.
Digital Imaging       Atmospheric Problems     Other Wavelengths
Solar Basics           Nuclear Fusion
Mar. 17, 19, 21

Chapter 16 (continued).
Solar Neutrinos         Energy Transport in the Sun          Solar Activity
Mar. 24 -- 31
Spring Break
Apr. 2, 4

Chapter 17 -- Red Giants and White Dwarfs.
Luminosity and Distance      Binary Stars      Stellar Spectral Types
Stellar sizes         H-R Diagrams
Apr. 7, 9, 11
Chapter 17 (continued)
The Main Sequence      Star Clusters
Chapter 19 -- Star Formation.
Star Seeds
Apr. 14, 16, 18
Chapter 19 (continued)
Protostars           Disks and Jets
Chapter 20
-- Stellar Evolution
Sun as a Main Sequence Star        Subgiant to Giant Evolution   
Helium Burning          Planetary Nebulae
Apr. 21, 23, 25
Chapter 20 (continued)
High Mass Main Sequence    High Mass Fusion Fuels
 White Dwarf Basics
Chapter 21 -- Stellar Explosions.
Type II Supernovae  Supernvovae Remnants    Nucleosynthesis

Apr. 28, 30, May 2

Chapter 22 -- Neutron Stars and Black Holes.
Neutron Stars         Gamma Ray Bursts           Black Holes
Detecting Black Holes
May 5, 7, 9
Chapter 23 -- The Milky Way Galaxy  
Milky Way History     Milky Way Basics
May 12, 14, 16
Chapter 23 (continued)
Distances in the Milky Way    Components of the Galaxy    
Formation of the Galaxy

May 21,   12:45 PM
Final Exam

Course Goals:
1) To understand the place of human beings in the physical Universe.
        2) To learn how astronomers use knowledge of physics and chemistry to study distant objects via observation and the
             scientific method.
        3) To learn the history of human knowledge of the Universe.
        4) To learn the basic principles of modern astronomy: telescopes, the electromagnetic spectrum the formation and
             evolution of stars, and the structure of galaxies.

Required Text:

Astronomy Today, Vol. II Stars and Galaxies (8th Edition) by Chaisson and McMillan. (7th edition OK)

Required Equipment:
          Turning Technologies ResponseCard NXT.  The class participation part of your grade will be completed using the
          ResponseCard NXT during class to answer discussion questions.  The ResponseCard NXT is sold in the Hornet Bookstore.  . 
       Buy the CPS as soon as possible. Register it on SacCT.   We will start using it in            class during week 2!

Final course grades will be based upon homework, the best 2 out of 3 exams, a cumulative final exam, and class participation during in-class exercises.

Homework  SacCT
Exam 1
Exam 2
Class participation
Final Exam

Homework will be assigned on SacCT by Friday each week, and will be due on the next Wednesday.  You will always have the weekend to work on the homework assignments.  All homework assignments are done using SacCT!!

Exams will be mulitple choice, and you will need to bring a General Purpose Pearson NCS Answer Sheet, form no. 4521 (available from the bookstore), and a number 2 pencil. You will also have to bring photo ID to all exams!

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

less than 55%

Contacting Me
The best way is by e-mail [ctaylor (at)], since I don't check my voice mail very often.  Coming to office hours is also good, and any time my door is open, please come in.

Attendance is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged.  If you miss an in-class exercise, then you will receive zero points for it, which will be reflected in your grade.  Class participation is one-fifth of your final course grade, and you can't earn any class participation points if you aren't here!  Each class participation question is worth two points:  you get one point for being here and answering the question, and an additional point for getting the answer right.

Make up Exams:
I will announce exam dates at least 2 weeks in advance of the exam.  If you have a conflicting activity that cannot be rescheduled, you must see me at least 2 days before the exam. If you don't, there will be no opportunity to make it up. You must bring me documentation of your conflicting activity (i.e. if you have jury duty that day, show me the form they sent you.  If you have a brain transplant scheduled, bring me a note from the surgeon).

Algebra is required in this course.  I plan the exams so that you cannot get an A if you get all the math problems wrong.  However, if you get every math problem wrong, but get everything else right, you can still get a B

Calculators are allowed on the exams.  Smart phones or other devices with math functions are not allowed.

Cell phone:
Please turn your cell phone to vibrate before class starts.  Cell phones that ring in the middle of class are disrespectful to your fellow students, and to me.  If your cell phone goes off in class and it is a call you must take, please go into the hallway to answer it.

The faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy do not tolerate academic dishonesty. Falsification of data,
copying, unauthorized collaborations, plagiarism,
alteration of graded materials or other actions (as described in,
but not necessarily
limited to the CSUS Policy Manual) will be promptly reported to the Office of Student
Affairs. The offending student will be penalized on the assignment in question.  Serious infractions will result in course
failure and a recommendation for administrative

Students with disabilities:
Please see me before the end of the first week of class.

Chris Taylor :  ctaylor (at)