Astronomy 101                  Introduction to Astronomy                 Course Syllabus

                                                Olympic College



Instructor: Dr. David Fong  (Dr. Dave)





Textbook: "Astronomy Today 8th Edition" by Chaisson & McMillan


Course Objectives

    Understand the history of how we know our place in the universe

    Understand gravity and light, and how we use this knowledge to investigate the universe

    Learn about the tools of modern astronomy

    Learn about the Earth-Moon system

    Learn about the planets and the minor objects that make up the Solar System

    Learn about planets outside our Solar System

    Learn about the formation of the Solar System


Homework:  Suggested homework problems will be assigned, but these assignments will NOT be collected and graded.  Three labs will be performed in the Stellarium planetarium program.  The quizzes and exams will be similar to the homework problems and the lab exercises.


Extra Credit: Various projects will be offered



Two Exams 

100 points

(50 points each)

Four Quizzes

40 points

(10 points each)

Three Labs   

75 points

(20 + 35 + 20 points)

Final Exam  

75 points

(Comprehensive Exam)


15 points

(ITV class)


290 points










Grade Points:


Decimal Grade

Letter Grade


Decimal Grade

Letter Grade

94% - 100%

3.9 - 4.0


74% - 76%

1.9 - 2.1


90% - 93%

3.5 - 3.8


70% - 73%

1.5 - 1.8


87% - 89%

3.2 - 3.4


67% - 69%

1.2 - 1.4


84% - 86%

2.9 - 3.1


64% - 66%

0.9 - 1.1


80% - 83%

2.5 - 2.8


60% - 63%

0.7 - 0.8


77% - 79%

2.2 - 2.4


0% - 59%



Grades and their decimal equivalents will be based on the class distribution.  Students must formally withdraw through the Admissions Office to receive the "W" grade.  I do not assign WP or WF grades.


Class Policy

    Attendance is highly encouraged, but not mandatory.

    Students are responsible for all the material covered in the lecture and the material covered in the relevant chapters of the textbook

    No late makeup Quizzes will be allowed

    Prior arrangements must be made to take an early Quiz/Exam and other accommodations

    In cases where you experience an unexpected illness or emergency during a Quiz/Exam day, contact me as soon as you can

    Please turn off your computer and other electronic devices during class


Academic Honesty: Cheating is a serious offense and may be punished by failure on an exam and/or expulsion from the college.  For more information, see the Student Code of Conduct at


Learning Disabilities and Special Needs: Any student who thinks he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Access Services in HSS 204, or call 475-7540 for information. Information may also be found at


Disclaimer: Please be aware that certain aspects of the course may be modified in order to meet the needs of the class. You are responsible for knowing about all announcements made in class.



Tentative Class Schedule



Topics & Events


Week 1 (4/1-4/3)


Astrology, Astronomy & Science

Overview of Stars, Nebulas, and the Galaxy

Ch 1.1-1.2

Week 2 (4/8-4/10)

Constellations, Celestial Sphere,

Motion of the Sun, Moon, Planets and Stars


Ch 1.3-1.4

Week 3 (4/15-4/17)


Seasons, Lunar Phases, Eclipses, Units of Distance

Lab#1 Deadline

Ch 1.4-1.6  


Week 4 (4/22-4/24)

Earth-Centered & Sun-Centered Systems


Lab#2 Deadline

Ch 2.1-2.5

Week 5 (4/29-5/1)

Modern Astronomy and Gravity


Ch 2.6-2.8

Week 6 (5/6-5/8)


Electromagnetic Spectrum & Thermal Emission

Ch 3.1-3.2

Ch 3.3-3.4

Week 7 (5/13-5/15)


Telescopes & Space Probes


Ch 5


Week 8 (5/20-5/22)


Lab#3 Deadline

Earth-Moon System

Origin of the Moon



Ch 7

Ch 8(Moon sections)

Week 9 (5/27-5/29)

5/27 Memorial Day Holiday

Planetary Overview


Ch 6, Ch14.3

Week 10 (6/3-6/5)


Formation of the Solar System

Terrestrial Planets

Quiz #4

Ch 8(Mercury sections)

Ch 9, Ch 10

Week 11 (6/10-6/12)

Jovian Planets and Beyond

Final Exam Wed, Jun 12 2:00-4:00p (day class)

Final Exam Wed, Jun 12 7:25-9:25p (night class)

Ch 11, Ch 12, Ch 13