Astronomy - Ancient Genius, Modern Dilemmas
is an introductory course aimed at the level
of first year college students. It assumes a minimum of
mathematics and is directed
at an audience with an interest in science, but with little
formal training in the sciences.
The course is a one semester course in
astronomy, emphasizing the historical development of astronomy, the important
contributors to the field, and the unanswered questions presently being pondered
by today's astronomers and astrophysicists. Modern astronomy is not an isolated
field. Contributions from diverse sources disciplines such as biology, chemistry
and elementary particle physics have sparked new insights into topics of
fundamental importance to astronomers. These contributions will be
considered during the conduct of the course. The structure of the course consists of:
- Classroom meetings - Class will meet
every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 in room B-101, except
as announced. The class time will be set
aside for discussion of course materials. There will be a
mix of question and answer sessions and lectures at these
times. Please note that you are expected to be at these
- The Instructor - Instructor for the
course is W. Seeley. The instructor may be contacted
during posted office hours (MWTh 10:00 -
11:00 AM), scheduled classroom hours, by appointment or
by chance. The primary means of communication between
students and instructor will be via e-mail. Mail address
Questions presented via e-mail will answered the same
way, and questions of general interest will be answered in class.
- Textbook - The text for the course is Seeds,
M. A., "Horizons, Exploring the Universe",
Wadsworth, latest edition.
- Video Presentations - A series of 26
half hour video programs will be shown as an ancillary resource for the course. The tapes will be shown over the campus public access
channel 16 at times to be announced. Also, students may request special showings of any
of the videos in the viewing room of the Freel Library
during normal working hours. Make your requests to the
Media Center in the Freel Library.
- Internet Access -
Class notes, announcements and other general information will be available
on the Internet. The address is
This is the Physics
Department's home page. The link to this course appears as an icon on this
page labeled Astronomy - Ancient Genius, Modern Dilemmas. Note that
another astronomy link is also available. This is to the course
"Astronomy On-Line", which is a different course from this one,
although many features are similar.
- Labs - There will be a number of labs
during the semester. Some may be done outside class as explained on the
web pages while others may require attendance at
on-campus laboratory meetings. These will be
held in Bowman 107. Check the web page for
details. Due dates for the labs will be posted on
the web pages.
- Homework - Homework will be assigned
as the course progresses.
You may mail the finished assignments to me via campus
mail or US Mail, or you may drop them off during class
meetings. Mail address is
W. Seeley, Department of Physics,
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Church Street, North
Adams, MA 01247-4100.
- Exams - Exams will be given
several times during the semester - all will be advertised well in
advance. Missed exams receive a grade of zero except in the most
- Quizzes - A number
of unannounced quizzes may be given during class meetings. These will be
brief and used to bolster exam grades. Missing a quiz will not hurt your
course grade, but taking one will always help.
- Observation Sessions - Part of the
astronomy course consists of becoming familiar with the
night sky. There will be occasional observing sessions scheduled using the
college's telescopes. You are expected to attend at least one of these -
extra credit will be assigned in more sessions are attended.
- Final Exam - This is the one most
important part of the grading structure. The final exam
will be given during normal final exam times. Everyone
must take the final exam in order to receive credit for
Go back to the