Astronomy 104

Spring 2014

Sections 1-2-3-4.

These are introductory courses to astronomy, with more emphasis on active thinking than memorizing facts. The main points of this course are (1) a general understanding of astronomy, (2) what can be observed in the sky, (3) the stars and the Universe.


Test 3 is on Monday, April 21, during class.
Pass/fail grades are available now.

In all classes and for all tests,

students need a new scantron # 16485,

one scantron for each class.

What's up in the sky?

The Sun.
There are quite a few sunspots now!

New Moon: Mar. 30, First Quarter: Apr. 7,

Full Moon: Apr. 15, Last Quarter: Apr. 22.


Jupiter is up all night.

Mars rises at 9:00, but looks very small in the telescope.

Saturn rises at 11:00.



1. The BICEP2 experiment made an important discovery which confirms the existence of gravitational waves, provides evidence for inflation and relates the scale of inflation to the scale of Grand Unification. It is also the first (indirect) experimental detection for Hawking radiation and quantum gravity.

3. The controversy about a shrinking Mercury resolved.

3. The now-defunct Kepler mission supplies 715 more confirmed exoplanets.

Most of these are rather Earth-like than hot Jupiters.

4. The oldest rock (on Earth) found and dated to 4.374 billion years old.

5. The new 17-inch Plane Wave Corrected Dall-Kirkham (CDK) telescope,

obtained through the Ole Miss Astronomy Legacy Project,

is now operational and replaces the 12-inch Meade SCT telescope in the small dome for imaging projects.


Unusual events and objects

(Students might want to ask help in how to use the coordinates, ephemerids and finder charts.)

There is a bright supernova in M82, at 13mg, now slowly fading.

Look at this time-lapse spacecraft image series.

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