Alexander L. Rudolph    Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Cal Poly Pomona
Physics 303H is an honors upper division general education synthesis course in astrophysics.




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Winter Quarter, 2013

    • I will communicate with you frequently via your Cal Poly e-mail address, so read your e-mail regularly (at least once per day!)
    • If you bought the optional textbook, The Cosmic Perspective: Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology, you can sign up to access the online portion of the course here. (The "Course ID" is P303HW13)
  • Course Syllabus
  • Schedule of Activities and Assignments

    Class Date

    • Suggested on-line reading quizzes and tutorials (in green) will be helpful in mastering the material (either before or after that topic is covered in class) - found on the Mastering Astronomy website
    • Assignments will be updated regularly so check back frequently
    Before the first class
    • Purchase the required text "Lecture Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy"; bring the "Lecture Tutorials" to every class
    • Purchase student response system ("clicker")
    • Register your "clicker" at the i>Clicker website (use your BroncoID for the student ID field). If you have difficulty, let me know (
    • Bring your clicker to the first class (1 pt course grade bonus if you do!)
    • If you purchase a new copy of the recommended textbook, The Cosmic Perspective: Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology – 6th Edition, feel free to enroll online at the text website (optional). Use the Access Code that came with your text and then sign up for "Course ID" P303HW13
    • All in-class activities are indicated in red (LT=Lecture Tutorial; RT=Ranking Task)
    • All recommended reading assignments (in green) are optional
    • All recommended tutorials (in blue) are from the Mastering Astronomy (MA) website
    • PDFs of each day's PPTs will be posted after class. If the file is not found, e-mail me to let me know and I will post it as soon as I am able.
    Jan. 7
    • NO CLASS - AAS meeting
    Wednesday Jan. 9
    • Optional reading
      • "How to Succeed in Your Astronomy Course", pp. xxviii-xxix in the textbook
      • Chapter 1 - Our Place in the Universe
    • Recommended MA tutorials: Scales of the Universe Tutorial
    • Size and Scale RT #1, 2
    • A1_ClassInstro.web.pdf
    • B1_Size_and_Scale.web.pdf
    Monday Jan. 14
    Jan. 16
    Monday Jan. 21
    • NO CLASS - MLK Day
    Jan. 23
    • Optional reading Chapter 5 - Light and Matter
    • Recommended MA tutorial: Light & Spectroscopy Tutorial
    • EM Spectrum (LT, pp. 45-48)
    • Light and Atoms (LT, pp. 63-68)
    • E4_Light_and_Matter_I.web.pdf
    Jan. 28
    Jan. 30
    • Midterm Exam #1 (Chaps. 1, 3, 4, 5)
    • Optional reading: Chapter S2 - Space and Time
    • G6_Relativity.web.pdf
    Feb. 4
    • Optional reading: Chapter 6 - Telescopes
    • Recommended MA tutorial: Telescopes Tutorial
    • Telescope and Earth's Atmosphere (LT, pp. 49-52)
    • H7_Telescopes.web.pdf
    Feb. 6
    • Optional reading: Chapter 14 - Our Star
    • Recommended MA tutorial: Sun Tutorial
    • Sun Size (LT, pp. 105-108)
    • Parsec (LT, pp. 35-38)
    • I8_Sun_Stars_I_Lum_Dist.web.pdf
    Feb. 11
    • Optional reading: Chapter 15 - Surveying the Stars
    • Recommended MA tutorials
      • Measuring Cosmic Distances Tutorial
      • HR Diagram Tutorial
    • Luminosity, Temperature, & Size (LT, pp. 53-56)
    • Blackbody Radiation (LT, pp. 57-60)
    • J9_Stars_II_Mass_Temp_Rad.web.pdf
    Wednesday Feb. 13
    Monday Feb. 18
    • Recommended reading: Chapter 13 - Other Planetary Systems
    • Bennett TCP 5e Chapter 13.pdf
    • Recommended MA tutorials:
      • Formation of the Solar System Tutorial
      • Detecting Extrasolar Planets Tutorial
    • Temperature and Formation of the Solar System (LT, pp. 103-104)
    • Motion of Extrasolar Planets (LT, pp. 117-120)
    • M11_Extrasolar_Planets.web.pdf
    Wednesday Feb. 20
    • Midterm Exam #2 (Chaps. 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, S2)
    • No recommended reading or tutorials
    Monday Feb. 25
    Wednesday Feb. 27
    • Recommended reading: Chapter 18 - The Bizarre Stellar Graveyard
    • Recommended reading: Chapter S3 - Spacetime and Gravity
    • Recommended MA tutorial: Black Holes Tutorial
    • O14_Stellar_Remnants.web.pdf
    Monday Mar. 4
    • Recommended reading: Chapter 19 - Our Galaxy
    • Galaxy Classification (LT, pp. 127-130)
    • Milky Way Scales (LT, pp. 123-126)
    • P15_Galaxies_MW.web.pdf
    Wednesday Mar. 6
    Mar. 11
    Mar. 13
    • NO CLASS
    Mar. 18
    • COMPREHENSIVE FINAL EXAM in 8-210 (3:50-5:50pm)
    • GOOD LUCK!

Instructional Philosophy of the Course

The overarching goals of this course are for students to understand the nature of science through the eyes of astrophysics; to develop their abilities as critical thinkers by giving them guided practice at taking apart and understanding complex astronomical phenomena; and to develop in them a lifelong interest in astronomy and current events surrounding astronomy.  To meet these three goals, we use a carefully designed a sequence of learning tasks and assessment procedures as outlined in the syllabus.  These learning tasks were developed at the University of Arizona by a group led by Dr. Ed Prather, who is a leader in the field of astronomy education.  We have also collected data on a national research study utilizing the Light and Spectrocsopy Concept Inventory, designed to determine the effectiveness of these, and other learning techniques.

©2011 by Alexander L. Rudolph

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The space for this page is provided by Cal Poly Pomona and is subject to its policies. Nevertheless, the opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent official policy of the University. I take full responsibility for the information presented and will appreciate being informed of errors or inaccuracies.

Last modified on 11 March, 2013