Astronomy 104, Fall 2015, 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 Solar System in 103 / the stars and the Universe in 104.

The first set of grades is available, click on 'grades' below.

please do the magnitude exercises on the last PowerPoint presentation.

(Run the slide show in Microsoft PowerPoint.)

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!

First Quarter: Aug. 22, Full Moon: Aug. 29,

Last Quarter: Sept. 5, New Moon: Sept. 13.


Venus is observable before sunrise, is very bright (-4 mg) and large in the telescope.

Saturn is ovservable early night, great in a telescope.



1. The New Horizons space mission is to see Pluto from close for the first time. Read about Pluto's perplexing moon system.

It flew by Pluto on July 14. Here is a link to the NASA mission site.

2. Philae, a space probe off the Rosetta spacecraft,

has landed on comet Churiumov-Gerasimenko, in the shade of a rock wall.

After a half a year of hybernation, it came back to life again.

An important result of the mission: Earth's water did not originate in comets.

3. The Dawn spacecraft spots two dazzling bright spots on Ceres, probably ice deposits. Looks quite striking.


Unusual events and objects

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