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Blinn College • Bryan • Natural Science • Physics - PHYS

Stars And Galaxies PHYS-1403

  • Fall 2012 Full Term 2013

  • Section SECTION_300

  • 4 Credits

  • 08/27/2012 to 12/13/2012

  • Modified 08/28/2012

Meeting Times


Monday, Wednesday, 10:35 AM to 11:50 AM, G213


Monday, Wednesday, 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM, G233

Contact Information

Professor: Dr. James Freeman

Office: G202
Phone: 979.209.7451

Office Hours:

Monday, Wednesday, 1:30 PM to 2:45 PM, G202
Tuesday, Thursday, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM, G202


A survey of astronomy. Topics include the techniques and methods of modern astronomy, our solar system, the stars, our galaxy and other galaxies, the large-scale structure of the Universe and cosmology (the origin and evolution of the Universe). Also included are aspects and applications of spectroscopy, atomic structure, optics, mechanics, gravitation and relativity. The class is mostly descriptive in nature, with a minimum of mathematics. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. Credit: Four semester hours. 


Apply the principles of science to describe the position and motion of celestial objects.

Compare and contrast models from physics that have led to our current understanding of the physical universe.

Recognize and apply basic concepts of physics as they apply to astronomy.

 Identify the common features of telescopes and instrument applications to the different regions of the spectrum.

Discuss the intrinsic properties of stars determining energy production, energy transport and stellar lifetimes.

Demonstrate an understanding of the luminosity temperature (HR) diagram by applying the HR diagram to the life cycles of stars.

Characterize normal and active galaxies.

Summarize the observational evidence leading to current theories of the origin, physical evolution, and ultimate fate of the Universe.


The text for this course is a custom textbook based on The Cosmic Perspective, Sixth Edition, Bennett, Donahue, Schneiter, Voit. The text may be purchased in the Blinn College bookstore. Students may also use the full version of The Cosmic Perspective, with the understanding that chapter numbers may not correspond to those in the custom text.

Students are also required to obtain a key for SkyGazer 5.0 software which will be used for some of the laboratory exercises. The software comes bundled with the custom version of the text in the Blinn College Bookstore.

We will use for some labs sections of the Astronomy Media Workbook that accompanies the SkyGazer software. These sections can be downloaded from the Study Area section of Mastering Astronomy. Students are responsible for downloading a copy of the appropriate material and bringing it to lab when indicated.

Students must purchase an access key to Mastering Astronomy, the textbook publisher's online homework system.  This key is bundled with the textbook at the Blinn bookstore. Alternatively, you can purchase the access key online at Be sure to select the Bennett text above to pair with Mastering Astronomy.  The Mastering Astronomy Course ID for section 300 is BLINNPHYS1403300FA12. ***Be sure to enter it exactly as it is given here.***

A scientific calculator. Note: Inexpensive scientific calculators (<$5.00) are available at various retail stores such as Walmart, Dollar General, etc.

Course Requirements

Major exams: There will be three regular exams and a comprehensive final. There are no make-up exams. Your lowest regular-exam score will count for 10% of your final grade. The other two regular exams will count for 40%. If you miss more than one exam, you get a zero for the second missed exam.

Labs: Lab time will be used to collect data. Students should expect to complete the lab write-up outside of class. Lab reports are due the class following when the lab was completed. You must be present the day the lab is assigned in order to get credit for it.

Quizzes: Quizzes are short, unannounced assignments that may cover a variety of subjects including assigned reading and lab work. Grades from thesee quizzes will be combined with lab grades to form a Daily Grade.

Homework: Online homework assignments are due at midnight the day before the exam covering the same material. Details of how the assignments are graded can be found on eCampus in Lessons->Physics 1403 Handouts->Homework Grading 

Observing Session: Each student is required to complete a telescope observation activity. Telescopes are available from the physics department to be checked-out for these assignments. Details of this requirement will be given on the first day of class.


Grades will be based on the three major exams, labs, quizes, homework, the observing session, and the final exam. Lab and quiz grades will be combined into a single Daily Grade.

Grading Summary: Exams (50%), Daily Grade (10%), Homework (10%), Observing Session (10%), Final Exam (20%)

Blinn College Policies

Blinn College policies on civility, class attendance; scholastic integrity; students with disabilities; final grade appeals; and electronic devices as stated in the Blinn College Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, Blinn College Catalog and specific technical program handbooks.

Civility Statement

Civility Statement. Members of the Blinn College community, which includes faculty, staff and students, are expected to act honestly and responsibly in all aspects of campus life. Blinn College holds all members accountable for their actions and words. Therefore, all members should commit themselves to behave in a manner that recognizes personal respect and demonstrates concern for the personal dignity, rights, and freedoms of every member of the College community, including respect for College property and the physical and intellectual property of others.

      Civility Notification Statement. If a student is asked to leave the classroom because of uncivil behavior, the student may not return to that class until he or she arranges a conference with the instructor; it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for this conference. 

      This statement reflects step one in a possible four step process.  The Incivility Protocol is detailed in the Blinn College Student Handbook,

Attendance Policy

Attendance Policy.  The College District believes that class attendance is essential for student success; therefore, students are required to promptly and regularly attend all their classes. A record of attendance will be maintained from the first day of classes and/or the first day the student’s name appears on the roster through final examinations. If a student has one week’s worth of unexcused absences during the semester, he or she will be sent an e-mail by the College District requiring the student to contact his or her instructor and schedule a conference immediately to discuss his/her attendance issues. Should the student accumulate two weeks’ worth of unexcused absences, he or she will be administratively withdrawn from class.

There are four forms of excused absences recognized by the institution:

  1. observance of religious holy days—The student should notify his or her instructor(s) not later than the 15th day of the semester concerning the specific date(s) that the student will be absent for any religious holy day(s);
  2. representing the College District at an official institutional function;
  3. high school dual credit students representing the independent school district at an official institutional function; and
  4. military service.

Other absences may be considered excused at the discretion of the faculty

member with appropriate documentation.  A student enrolled in a developmental course is subject to College District-mandated attendance policies. Failure to attend developmental classes shall result in removal from the course as defined by the College District.

It is the student’s responsibility to officially drop a class he or she is no longer attending.  To officially drop a class the student must obtain the class withdrawal form from Enrollment Services, complete the class withdrawal form, secure the required signatures, and return the completed form to Enrollment Services.  The last day to drop this semester with a Q is October 8, 2012.

Scholastic Integrity

Blinn College does not tolerate cheating, plagiarism, or any other act of dishonesty with regard to the course in which you are enrolled.  The following text defines the faculty member’s responsibility with regard to the scholastic integrity expectation for this and all courses at Blinn College.

It is the responsibility of faculty members to maintain scholastic integrity at the College District by refusing to tolerate any form of scholastic dishonesty.  Adequate control of test materials, strict supervision during testing, and other preventive measures should be utilized, as necessary, to prevent cheating or plagiarism.  If there is compelling evidence that a student is involved in cheating or plagiarism, the instructor should assume responsibility and address the infraction.  Likewise, any student accused of scholastic dishonesty is entitled to due process as outlined in Blinn College Board Policy FLB (Local).  The Scholastic Integrity Policy is located in the Blinn College Student Handbook, a case of scholastic dishonesty, it is critical that written documentation be maintained at each level throughout the process.

Students with Disabilities

Students with Disabilities.  Blinn College is dedicated to providing the least restrictive learning environment for all students. Support services for students with documented disabilities are provided on an individual basis, upon request. Requests for services should be made directly to the Office of Special Populations serving the campus of your choice.  For the Bryan campus, the Office of Special Populations (Administration Building) can be reached at (979)209-7251.  The Brenham, Sealy and Schulenburg campuses are served by the Office of Special Populations on the Brenham campus (Administration Building Room 104) and can be reached at (979)830-4157.  Additional information can be found at

Final Grade Appeal

Final Grade Appeals Policy.  If a student wishes to appeal a final grade in a course, Blinn College Board Policy FLDB (Local), Course Grade Complaints, outlines the timeline for the appeal and the four steps in the appeal.  This policy is located in the Blinn College Student Handbook,

Electronic Devices

Electronic Devices.  All the functions of all personal electronic devices designed for communication and/or entertainment (cell phones, pagers, beepers, iPods, and similar devices) must be turned off and kept out of sight in all College District classrooms and associated laboratories.  Any noncompliance with this policy shall be addressed in accordance with the College District civility policy (administrative policy).  This information is contained in Blinn College Board Policy FLB (Local).

Additional Items


The eCampus system will be our primary means of communication outside of class. Each student will be enrolled in the appropriate eCampus course. Access the course at The following items will be available online:

  • Important announcements
    • Students should check daily for new announcements
  • Email
    • Note: All official course email between the instructor and students will be via eCampus email. Emails sent through the regular Blinn email will be answered, “Please resend through eCampus.”
  • Copies of Power Point lecture slides
  • Copies of all handouts
  • Grades
  • Links to external resource material
  • Discussion forums/Blogs
  • This syllabus

Absence Policy

If a student misses any part of a lecture or laboratory period, the absences is counted as a single absence. If a student misses both the lecture and laboratory period, the absence is counted as a single absence.

To be granted an excused absence, the student MUST contact the instructor within 24 hours of the absence - via eCampus email - and explain the reason for the absence. Any claims of absence for medical reasons must be accompanied by a valid note from an approved health-care professional. In any case, the instructor retains the option to decide whether to grant an excused absence, regardless of the reason.

Problem Resolution

If you have a complaint about your class, you should first request a conference with your instructor to try and resolve the problems or issues. If the problems or issues cannot be resolved at the instructor level, you should request a conference with the Division Chair, Mr. Dwight Bohlmeyer, Science 241,

Core Curriculum Course

This is a course in the 42-hour Core Curriculum of Blinn College.  Students will develop proficiency in appropriate intellectual competencies, exemplary educational objectives and general perspectives. The URL of the BlinnCollegecore curriculum web site is




Lecture Topic

1    Aug. 27

      Aug. 29

Intro and 1


Scale of the Universe; Spaceship Earth

Patterns in the Sky;

2    Sep. 3

      Sep. 5




Seasons; Sun; Moon; Eclipses

3    Sep. 10

      Sep. 12



Ancient Astronomy; Copernican Revolution

Kepler’s Laws; Astronomical Time; Celestial Coordinates

4    Sep. 17

      Sep. 19



Newton’s Laws; Conservation Laws

Law of Gravity;

5    Sep. 24

      Sep. 26

Exam 1


Ch. 1-5

Properties of Light and Matter

6    Oct. 1

      Oct. 3



Types of Spectra; Types of Telescopes

Atmospheric Effects;

7    Oct. 8

      Oct. 10



The Planetary System

Asteroids; Comets; Dwarf Planets

8    Oct. 15

      Oct. 17



Sun’s Structure; Nuclear Fusion

Solar Activity; Stellar Luminosity

9    Oct. 22

      Oct. 24

Exam 2


Ch. 6-14

Stellar Temperature, Mass

10  Oct. 29

      Oct. 31



Star Birth

Mass of Newborn Stars; Life of Low-/High-mass Stars

11  Nov. 5

      Nov. 7



Mass Exchange;

White Dwarfs; Neutron Stars

12  Nov. 12

      Nov. 14

      Nov. 16


Exam 3


Black Holes; Gamma-ray Bursts

Ch. 14-17

Last day to drop with a Q

13  Nov. 19

      Nov. 21



The Milky Way


14  Nov. 26

      Nov. 28



Hubble Law; Formation of Galaxies

Life of Galaxies; Quasars;

15 Dec. 3

     Dec. 5



Active Galactic Nuclei; Evidence for Dark

Matter Fate of the Universe; The Big Bang;

16 Dec. 10

     Dec. 12



Final Exam


Inflation;  Life on Earth; Life Around Other Stars; SETI