Welcome to Introduction to Astronomy!

PSC 101 – Introduction to Astronomy

Spring 2006

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Scott D. Johnson, Associate Professor, Physical Sciences and Engineering


PHONE NUMBERS: 301-386-7536


To facilitate e-mail communication with me, please include the following code: NM231 along with the course designation (PSC 101) in the subject of any e-mails to me during the spring 2006 semester.


OFFICE HOURS: W 4-5pm, TTh 1:00-3:00pm, by appointment all other times


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

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

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

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

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

  5. Discuss mechanisms of stellar astronomy, especially stellar evolution.

  6. Describe aspects of galactic astronomy and the extrastellar environment.

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


Explorations: An Introduction to Astronomy 4th Edition. Arny, Thomas T. McGraw-Hill. (2005/2006).


Handouts on material not covered in the required textbook to be distributed in class throughout the semester.


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


Evaluation of student performance is to be based on:

  1. Out-of-class projects worth a total of 10% of your grade.

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

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

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


  1. Homework is due at the start of class (or before) except for in-class projects.

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


New topics are to be covered each week and include but are not limited to the following subjects. This outline is subject to change.

Week 1 Introduction; Scale and Overview of the Universe: Science vs. Pseudoscience

Week 2 Nature of Light; Special Relativity

Week 3 Telescopes; Spectra; Doppler Shift

Week 4 The Celestial Sphere; Astronomy in Antiquity

Week 5 Geocentric vs. Heliocentric Model; Copernicus, Galileo

Week 6 Tycho, Kepler's Laws

Week 7 Newton's Laws of Motion, Gravity

Week 8 Orbits and Free Fall; Origins of the Solar System; Earth:Interior

Week 9 Earth: Atmosphere, Seasons

Week 10 Moon: Eclipses, Geology, Impacts, Origin

Week 11 Mercury, Venus, Mars

Week 12 Outer Planets; Meteors, Asteroids, and Comets

Week 13 Stars

Week 14 Stellar Evolution; Galaxies

Week 15 Cosmology

Reading.assignments are as follows: Read the book.

Tests will be announced a week before and will depend on our progress in the classroom.

The Blackboard Login Procedure Has Changed For ALL Students

HOW TO LOG IN TO BLACKBOARD (note these class does not use blackboard)

Blackboard is a web-based program that serves as the college’s online classroom. You will use Blackboard to communicate with your instructor, to see your course materials, to submit assignments and to discuss course ideas with your classmates.

To login to your Blackboard course, please follow these steps:

Go to to create a myPGCC account. You will use your myPGCC username and password to login to Blackboard.

The first time you access Blackboard using your myPGCC account, you must change your myPGCC password to access Blackboard. When you change your myPGCC password, the Blackboard system is updated with the myPGCC account information.

Go to to reset your myPGCC password. Blackboard will be updated 1-2 minutes after you reset your password.


Students requesting academic accommodations are required to contact the Disability Support Services Office (M-1042) 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.


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 2005-2006 Student Handbook, beginning on page 41, 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 2005-2006 Student Handbook (pages 42-45) and posted on the college's website.


  1. Food and drink in limited quantities (snacks, not meals) are permitted in restricted areas (not near electronics) and will be revoked if proper cleanliness is found wanting.

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

  3. Common courtesy is to apply at all times.


Last day to apply for spring graduation Wednesday, February 15

Presidents' Day - College Closed, No Class Monday, February 20

Last day to change from "audit" to "credit" or "credit" to "audit" Friday, March 3

Spring Break - College Closed, No Classes Mon.-Sun., April 10-16

Last day to withdraw from full-semester classes Friday, April 21

Final Exam Thursday May 11


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.


The related lab to this course is PSC 102, there is no lab in this class.


Student Assessment Services Center (Testing Center)

Bladen Hall, Room 100 301-322-0090


Check the web site for hours and policies and procedures.

Mathematics Learning Center (π Shop)

Marlboro Hall, Room 3104

Walk-in computer and mathematics assistance (note that due to overwhelming demand this service is being curtailed) for Mathematics and mathematical software such as MATLAB.

Tutoring and Writing Centers (

Bladen Hall, Room 107 Stop by or call 301-322-0748 to make an appointment.

The Tutoring Center can help you in many courses with free one-on-one or group tutoring.

The Writing Center offers one-on-one tutoring for all students who are working on a writing assignment in any course.

Student Development Services 301-322-0886


Student Development Services has various programs that provide students with mentoring, advising and individual counseling. Call or check the website for more information.

Library (

Accokeek Hall General information: 301-322-0105

Circulation services: 301-322-0475

Reference services: 301-322-0476

The Library provides a range of library and media services.

Refer to the web site for hours and more information about the services.

Campus Bookstore (

Largo Student Center, Room 116 301-322-0912