Department of Physical Science and Engineering
Welcome to Astronomy!
PSC-1010 Introduction to Astronomy
Number LD03
Section 42505
Fall 2011


INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Nicholas R. Collins, Adjunct Professor, Physical Sciences and Engineering

OFFICE: Chesapeake 310F

OTHER LOCATIONS : CH-100 (Department), the classroom (CH-114)

PHONE NUMBERS: 301-322-0420 (Department Main Line)

E-MAIL ADDRESS :  All e-mail communication will be through PGCC Owl Link.  Make sure your Owl Link mail account is activated.

Physical Sciences and Engineering Department:


OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday 10:30am-11:00am; Thursday 10:30am-11:00am, by appointment all other times Note: (part or all of the office hours might be in the classroom [CH-114] as student questions warrant).


This course is designed to give you a working knowledge of the vast and magnificent universe in which you live. It will be illustrative not only of the myriad of wonders that exist in the cosmos, but also of the scientific principles which govern nature. Only on a very few occasions will mathematics of any sort be used in this course.


Reading Proficiency


Upon successful completion of the course a student will be able to

Analyze the scientific method and how it has been used in astronomy.

Evaluate historical development of models of the solar system and universe and the achievements which have led to our modern perception.

Appraise the tools and methods which astronomers use, and the ways in which astronomical information is obtained, including the nature and properties of light.

Compare and contrast worlds of the solar system, analyze and interpret the uniform processes that they undergo.

Discuss mechanisms of stellar astronomy, especially stellar evolution.

Describe aspects of galactic astronomy and the extra-stellar environment.

Explain our current models of the birth and evolution of the universe and solar system.


Exploration: An Introduction to Astronomy 6th Edition. Arny, Thomas T. and Schneider, Stephen E. McGraw-Hill (2010).


Textbook, Pens, Pencils, Eraser, Straight edge, Paper, and Calculator are required for every class.


As with any class an amount of time at least equivalent to two times the credit hours is expected to be performed for homework and labs. Please allot sufficient time for homework.


 Animations -- supplementary animations related to the text

 Applets      -- interactive web tools that illustrate concepts described in the text

 NAAP Astronomy Labs – (Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project) additional interactive web tools from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln

 Educypedia   -- massive clearing house of animations and interactive tools


Evaluation of student performance is to be based on:

Five out-of-class projects are worth a total of 10% of your grade.

A set of quizzes are worth a total of 30% of the grade.

Midterm Exam that is cumulative. This exam is worth 30% of the grade.

Final Exam that is cumulative stressing the second half of the semester. This exam is worth 30% of the grade.


Students are responsible for their own work.

Tests and quizzes are closed book, no notes, no collaboration.

Cheating is not allowed. Evidence of cheating will result in a grade of

zero for the work (quiz, exam, or assignment).  


Don't copy someone else's work and don't allow someone to copy your work. 

In a case where copying is evident both quizzes (or exams) will get zero credit.


One question on each quiz, mid-term, and final will be related to the Astronomy Picture of the Day.  The question on a given quiz or test will be related to the picture of the day for any day leading up to the quiz since the last quiz or test.    The web site has a calendar-organized archive, so if  you miss a day, you can always go back to review it.


Two out-of-class projects are due at the start of the mid-term exam session.

The remaining three out-of-class projects are due at the start of the final exam session.

Make-up homework, quizzes, and/or tests are up to the discretion of the teacher (excused absences only).


You may collaborate on out-of-class assignments.

However, express your experiences and your analysis in your own words. 

Do not copy someone else's work and don't let anyone copy your work.

In a case where copying is evident (exactly the same text) both assignments

will get zero credit.



The related lab to this course is PSC-1020, there is no lab in this class.


Students are expected to attend and participate in class activities.  Students who either never attended the class or who ceased attendance during the first 20 percent of the course will be assigned a “Q” grade by the instructor.  The Q grade is a final grade and will not be replaced with a different grade at a later time.

Faculty are required to report the date of last attendance for each student receiving Q or F grade(s) in order for the college to report this date to a variety of federal agencies as mandated.  The date of last attendance is considered the date of the student’s termination from the course, regardless of the date of grade submission.  Early termination from a course may result in reduction in student loans and financial aid (e.g., Pell, VA benefits) and may require the student to reimburse funds to the funding agency.



New topics are to be covered each week and include but are not limited to the following subjects. This outline is subject to change. I will give one-week notice for quizzes and the mid-term exam. Reading assignments are as follows: Read the book. I will only go over the essentials; extra detail will be in the book.


Class Dates



Aug. 31

Sept. 1

Lines in the Sky (Ch. 1.1)

Seasons (Ch. 1.2)


Sept. 6, 8

Moon Phases (Ch. 1.3)

Eclipses (Ch. 1.4)

Giants of Science p. 1 (Ch. 2.1 - 2.2)


Sept. 13, 15

Giants of Science p. 2 (Ch. 2.2 - 2.3)
Galileo & Newton (Ch. 2.4, Ch. 3) 


Quiz #1, Thursday, September 15


Sept. 20, 22

Light & Atoms (Ch. 4.1 - 4.3)


Sept. 27, 29   

Supplement: What is a Spectrum?

Atoms & Spectra (Ch 4.4 - 4.7)

Quiz #2,  Thursday September 29


Oct. 4, 6

Earth's Atmosphere & Telescopes (Ch. 5)



Oct. 11, 13

Solar System Structure (Ch. 8.1)

Solar System Formation (Ch. 8.2 - 8.3)


Oct. 18, 20

Mid-term Exam, Tuesday, October 18 / Two writing assignments due

Inner or Terrestrial Planets (Ch. 9)


Oct. 25

Oct. 27

No Classes – College Enrichment Day

Outer or Jovian Planets (Ch. 10)


Nov. 1, 3

The Earth-Moon System (Ch. 6.2, 6.5, 6.6, 7.1-7.4)
The Earth-Moon System - Tides (Ch. 7.5)

Quiz #3, Thursday November 3


Nov. 8, 10

The Sun - Our Star (Ch. 12)
Stars (Ch. 13)


Nov. 15, 17

Stellar Life Cycles (Ch. 14)
Stellar Remnants (Ch. 15)

Quiz #4, Thursday, November 17


Nov. 22

Our Galaxy (Ch. 16)


Nov. 23

Nov. 24-27

No Classes – College Open

No Classes – College Closed


Nov. 29

Dec.  1

Galaxies (Ch. 17)


Dec. 6

Dec. 8

Cosmology (Ch. 18)
Life in the Universe (Essay 4) [Last day of classes for Fall 2011]


Dec. 15

Final Exam at 11am Thursday, December 15 / Three writing assignments due



Food and drink are not permitted in the classroom.

Cell phones must be in vibrate mode and are only to be answered for emergencies (step outside please) during class.

Cell phones must be turned off during quizzes or exams.

Laptops may be used only for taking notes, not for web-surfing or checking e-mail.

Common courtesy is to apply at all times.



Log in to myPGCC from or from for updates and announcements.


No classes – College closed – Labor Day

Saturday-Monday, September 3-5

Last day to apply for fall graduation

Thursday, September 15

Last day to change from “credit to audit” or “audit to credit” for full-semester classes

Friday, September 23

Last day to withdraw from first half-semester classes

Wednesday, October 5

Registration for Intersession 2012 begins

Monday, October 24

No classes – College closed – College Enrichment Day (except Laurel College Center)

Tuesday, October 25

Last day to withdraw from full semester classes

Friday, November 18

Advance registration for spring 2012 begins

Monday, November 21

No classes – Start of Thanksgiving Break

Wednesday, November 23

No classes – College closed – Thanksgiving Break

Thursday-Sunday, November 24-27

Last day to withdraw from second half-semester classes

Wednesday, November 30

Advance registration for spring 2012 ends

Wednesday, November 30

Open registration for spring 2012 begins

Thursday, December 1

Final exam period/last week of fall 2011 classes

Friday-Thursday, December 9-15

College Closed – Winter Break

Thursday-Wednesday, December 22-January 4

Spring 2012 semester begins

Monday, January 23



Refund Schedule

Students enrolling on or after the course start date will not be dropped for failure to pay but will be accountable for all costs.  Students who wish to avoid paying anything for a course must drop it prior to its 100% refund deadline:


For courses longer than five weeks in length, the following refund periods apply:

For courses five weeks or shorter, the following refund periods apply:

Course dropped prior to the start of class: 100% refund

Course dropped prior to the start of class: 100% refund

Course dropped on the 1st or 2nd calendar day before midnight: 100% refund

Course dropped on the 1st or 2nd calendar day before midnight: 100% refund

Course dropped on the 3rd through the 9th calendar day before midnight: 75% refund

Course dropped the 3rd calendar day before midnight: 75% refund

Course dropped on the 10th through the 14th calendar day before midnight: 50% refund

Course dropped the 4th calendar day or later: No refund

Course dropped the 15th calendar day or later: No refund




When the college announces a delayed opening, all classes with at least 45 minutes of class time remaining at the time of the opening will be held.  For example, in the event of a 10 a.m. opening, a 9:30-10:45 a.m. class will be held.  This procedure applies to all credit classes.  To sign up for text alerts such as school closings and delays, log in to myPGCC from or from and click Owl Alert Notification System on the Bookmarks tab.  Owl Alert is the college’s instant messaging and email notification system.



Students requesting academic accommodations are required to contact the Disability Support Services Office (B-124) or call (301) 322-0838 (voice) or (301) 322-0122 (TTY) to establish eligibility for services and accommodations.  Students with documented disabilities should discuss the matter privately with their instructors at the beginning of the semester and provide a copy of their Student/Faculty Accommodation Form.



To promote a community of scholarship and civility, everyone at Prince George’s Community College is expected to be respectful, tolerant and courteous towards others at all times, adhere to college policies and procedures, and respect college property. Creating a culture of civility both inside and outside the classroom is everyone’s responsibility.


Civility is a college-wide commitment and in order to identify PGCC students, we are requiring that ALL students have their IDs visible while AT ANY COLLEGE SITE, WHETHER THEY ARE ON THE LARGO CAMPUS OR ANY EXTENSION SITE.


Lanyards and ID holders can be obtained at the following locations:


Largo Campus - College Life Services and the Admissions and Records Office

Laurel College Center - Main office, Room 205 

Joint Base Andrews - Main office

University Town Center - Front desk

Students must keep their IDs current by requesting the appropriate sticker each semester from the Admissions and Records Office or extension centers.




The Prince George's Community College Code of Conduct defines the rights and responsibilities of students and establishes a system of procedures for dealing with students charged with violations of the code and other rules and regulations of the college. A student enrolling in the college assumes an obligation to conduct himself/herself in a manner compatible with the college's function as an educational institution. Refer to the 2011-2012 Student Handbook, beginning on page 38, for a complete explanation of the Code of Conduct, including the Code of Academic Integrity and the procedure for dealing with disruptive student behavior.



The college is an institution of higher learning that holds academic integrity as its highest principle.  In the pursuit of knowledge, the college community expects that all students, faculty, and staff will share responsibility for adhering to the values of honesty and unquestionable integrity.  To support a community committed to academic achievement and scholarship, the Code of Academic Integrity advances the principle of honest representation in the work that is produced by students seeking to engage fully in the learning process.  The complete text of the Code of Academic Integrity is in the 2010-2011 Student Handbook (pages 40-42) and posted on the college's website.