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Blinn College • Bryan • Natural Science • Physics - PHYS

Stars And Galaxies PHYS-1403

  • Spring 2013
  • Section SECTION_300 CRN-21100
  • 4 Credits
  • 01/14/2013 to 05/07/2013
  • Modified 01/10/2013

Meeting Times


  • Monday, Wednesday, 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM, G213


  • Monday, Wednesday, 1:25 PM to 2:40 PM, G233

Contact Information

Professor: Mr Kristopher Byboth

Office Hours

  • Monday, Wednesday, 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
  • Tuesday, Thursday, 11:50 AM to 1:20 PM


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.


Prerequisites: None

Core Curriculum Statement

This is a Core Course in the 42-Hour Core Curriculum of Blinn College. As such, students will develop proficiency in the appropriate Intellectual Competencies, Exemplary Educational Objectives, and Perspectives.


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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Characterize normal and active galaxies.

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


Bryan: Textbook: Bennett, Donahue, Schneiter, Voit, The Cosmic Perspective, Sixth Edition

Brenham: Textbook: Astronomy Today, Stars & Galaxies, Vol. 2 by Chaisson & McMillan, 7th ed

The Cosmic Perspective

  • Author: Bennett, Donahue, Schneiter, Voit
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Edition: 6th
  • ISBN: 978-1-256-54736-5

A customized version of the book is available at the Blinn Bookstore at a reduced cost over the full text.

SkyGazer 5.0

A virtual sky program that will be used with labs.

This software is bundled at no additional cost with the book if purchased at the Blinn Bookstore

Mastering Astronomy

Students must purchase an access key to Mastering Astronomy, the textbook publisher’s online homework system.  This is bundled with the textbook at the Blinn bookstore.  Alternatively, the access key can be purchased online at   Be sure to select the textbook above (with proper edition) to pair with the Mastering Astronomy.  The Mastering Astronomy Course ID for this section is:  BLINN1403300SP13. (Blinn Zip Code 77805)

This is also bundled with the textbook for no additional cost in the bookstore.

Scientific Calculator

Any basic scientific calculator will do and can be purchased for between $10-$15.

Course Requirements



There will be three exams and a comprehensive final

Labs and Quzzes

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. 

Quizzes may be given unnanounced, and may be taken from reading assignments prior to the material being lectured.

You must be present the day the lab or quiz is assigned in order to get credit for it.

The lowest Lab or Quiz grade will be dropped. No makeup labs or quizzes will be allowed.


Mastering Astronomy

Observing Assignment

Students are required to check out a telescope and complete an observing assignment on their time. Additional details will be given in class.


Grading Summary: Exams (50%), Labs and quizzes (10%), Homework (10%), Observing Assignment (10%), Final Exam (20%)

The grading system of Blinn College is as follows*:

A = 90 – 100   Superior

B = 80 – 89   Above Average

C = 70 – 79   Average

D = 60 – 69   Passing

F =       < 60   Failing

*from Board Policy Manual EGA(LOCAL), issued 05/24/2004

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. All policies, guidelines and procedures in the Student and Faculty Handbook and the Board and Administrative Policy Manuals are applicable to this course

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

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 with a Q is according to the Academic Calendar.

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,  In a case of scholastic dishonesty, it is critical that written documentation be maintained at each level throughout the process.

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

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

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).

Course Policies


Attendance Policy Reminder:  Missing lecture, lab or both will count as one absence.  For classes that meet twice a week during the spring semester two absences counts as one week's absence.  Students accumulating two week’s worth of absences (four unexcused absences) will be dropped.

Any student requesting an excused absence must email the professor before noon on the following day explaining why the absence should be excused. In cases where sending an email is not possible a phone call is required.

E-mail Communication:

  • E-mail Communication:All Blinn students have been assigned a Blinn email address. For information on how to set up your account please see
  • It is the student’s responsibility to regularly check this e-mail account. Any e-mail communication sent by the instructor or the college to this account is assumed to be received and is an official method of communication.

Eating and Drinking:

 Eating and drinking are not allowed in classrooms or laboratories.

Problem Resolution

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, [email protected].





Lecture Topic



Intro and 1


Intro and Scale of the Universe

Patterns in the Sky and Celestial Sphere






Seasons, Sun, Moon, Eclipses






Ancient Astronomy

Copernican Revolution & Kepler’s laws




Exam 1

Times and Celestial Navigation

Chapters 1-4






Light and Blackbody Radiation











Telescopes Part 2






Asteroids, Comets, & Dwarf Planets

Solar System cont.

3-11 Through 3-14





Exam 2



The Sun






Stars cont.





Stellar Birth

Stellar Life Cycles






White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes

White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes cont.

Last day to drop with a Q




Exam 3




The Milky Way







Galactic Evolution





Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and Cosmology

Big Bang and Life



Final Exam: 12:45-2:45 PM