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.


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!

Last Quarter: Oct. 4, New Moon: Oct. 13,

First Quarter: Oct. 20, Full Moon: Oct. 27.


Venus is observable before sunrise or during the day, is very bright (-4 mg) and large in the 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, and it is sending more stunning images every week. Here is a link to the NASA mission site. After Pluto it is targeting another KBO.

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.)