Astronomy 2: Overview of the Universe

Fall 2012


Prof. Connie Rockosi
Office:  ISB 261
Email:  crockosi .at.
Office Hours:  Thursdays 2 - 3:30 pm

Lecture times:   TTh 10:00 – 11:45 am     
Lecture room:     Earth and Marine Sciences B206
Discussion sections:   see below.

Important information:

1- The text book: Cosmic Perspective, 6th edition, Bennett et al.

2- Access to the web site for the text book: The course ID is "AY2ROCKOSI2012".

3- An i-Clicker interactive remote.

4- Your student ID number so that you can register on (hereafter referred to as “MA”) and register your i-Clicker. Your student ID number is seven digits long and has no leading letters.

I believe that your cheapest option is to BUY the textbook FROM THE BOOKSTORE. The textbook at the bookstore is a special version printed for UCSC. It is cheaper than the full version and includes only the chapters that we will be using. It also includes:

Teaching Assistants:

         Maria Fernanda Duran Sierra (Feña), office hours Tuesday and Wednesday 2-3 pm, ISB 235

         Camille Leibler, office hours Wednesdays 11:15 am - 1:15 pm, ISB 255

         Elizabeth Otto, office hours Tuesday noon - 2 pm, ISB 255

Course material for Astronomy 2, Overview of the Universe:


         Course content


         Lecture and Discussion Section times

         Homework assignments will all be available through the web page.

         Review of basic Math Concepts.

         Lecture Notes will be linked here.

Syllabus (will be updated throughout the term):

 Week #, Dates 



week 1

Chapter 1, esp. 1.1 and 1.2, Chapter 2.1

A short introduction to the course and course content

week 2


Chapter 2.1, 2.3, S1.2

Chapter 3, esp. 3.3 and 3.4. Sections 3.1 and 3.2 are good historical background

Motion of Earth/Sun, the Celestial Sphere,
motion and phases of the moon, eclipses

Planetary Motion (Ptolemy to Kepler)

week 3


Chapters 4.1, 4.2

Chapter 4.3, 4.4, 4.5

Momentum, Force, Newton's Laws

Conservation of momentum, Measuring mass, orbits, and tides

week 4


Chapter 4.3 on energy, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 Math Insight 5.1 and Thermal Radiation, 5.4 on Thermal Radiation

Chapter 5.3, 5.4

Energy, Conservation of energy, Light as energy, Thermal ("blackbody") Radiation

Atoms, Interaction of Light and Matter

week 5



Chapter 5.4, 5.5


Doppler shifts, detecting light, spectra in astronomy.

week 6


Chapter 14.1, 14.2

Chapters 15.1, 15.2

The Sun as a star, nuclear fusion and synthesis of the elements

Measuring distances and luminosities of stars.

week 7


Chapters 16.1, 17 (focus on main sequence properties)

Chapter 17 (focus on post main sequence evolution), S4.3, S4.4

Measuring masses of stars, Main sequence stars

Stellar evolution, star clusters, the ends of the lives of low-mass stars.

week 8


Chapter 17 (focus on post main sequence evolution), 18.1,18.3

Chapter 18.3, S2, S3

Stellar evolution, ends of the lives of high-mass stars.

Dead stars, Black Holes, Special & General Relativity

week 9





week 10


Chapter 19,22.1,22.2

Chapter 20,21.1,21.2

The Milky Way galaxy: structure, content, star-gas-star cycle, evidence for dark matter

Galaxies, galaxy types, redshifts and the expanding universe

week 11


Chapter 20,22.3

Chapter 22.4, 23

Galaxies and galaxy evolution in the universe, Large Scale Structure

Cosmology and The Big Bang

Final exam time: 

Wednesday, 12 Dec, 4 - 7 pm 

Course Content


This is a one-term introductory course on astronomy and astrophysics.   We will cover the basic history, content, and fate of the universe.   Some of the topics we will touch on include: the origin & evolution of the Universe and the Big Bang model; galaxies & their constituents, including stars, planets & the interstellar medium (gas and dust); normal and active galaxies; the formation and evolution of galaxies; the life cycles & deaths of stars, including supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; nucleosynthesis (the origin of chemical elements); and dark matter.  Such studies require knowledge of  simple mechanics and basic laws of radiation, quantum mechanics, and nuclear & particle physics, which we shall develop as we go along.

The class syllabus  contains a detailed calendar listing weekly topics, homework deadlines, exam dates, and holidays. There may be some deviations from this syllabus depending on our rate of progress and any special topics that come up in current research.

         Textbook & Other Resources:

The Cosmic Perspective, UCSC special version of the 6th Edition (Bennet, Donahue, Schneider, & Voit), Pearson.

There is a lot of information on active research in astronomy on the web. Here are a few links to get you started:

 A pictorial tour of the Solar System
 The Nine Planets
 Astronomy Picture of the Day
 The Best of Hubble Space Telescope Pictures
 Sloan Digital Sky Survey
 W. M. Keck Observatory -- home to the world's largest optical telescopes

         Emphasis and Advice:

We will emphasize scientific methods and the process of discovery, reasoning, and understanding.  The goal is not just memorizing facts about the Universe.  Students are expected to develop a quantitative grasp of key astrophysical concepts.  

The course material is self-contained. No previous college-level math, physics, or astronomy is required. It will be assumed, however, that the student has mastered elementary arithmetic, algebra, and powers, and has  some familiarity with scientific concepts and reasoning. A background in math or physics will help, but is not necessary to succeed in the class.  Some of the best students in our previous ASTR-2 classes  have been non-science majors who took a strong interest in the course material.

It is advisable to purchase a small inexpensive calculator, if you don’t already own one. Be sure to get one that does powers and roots. Questions and classroom discussion are encouraged, both for your benefit and to help me properly pace the course. Please browse astronomy web sites (we’ll provide some links on the class web site) and share your findings, comments, questions, etc in class.

To get the most out of class (and a good grade), it is critical that you attend lectures. In order to get the most out of lectures, it is also a really good idea to read the chapter before hand so that you are familiar with the material.  It is also extremely important to attend discussion sections. Students who do not attend both discussion sections and lecture are at a huge disadvantage for exams, homework, and the overall grade.

Course Grading

18%  Homework
7%    Discussion section
15%  In-lecture (i-Clicker questions and quizzes).
15%  Midterm 1
15%  Midterm 2
30%  Final Exam (Wednesday, December 12,  4 - 7 pm)


There will be homework assignments every week to help you digest the material. All homework will be assigned via the textbook web site: You can register on that web site using the code that is in your textbook if you purchase a new book from the UCSC bookstore. If you arrange to get a used book, you will need to purchase access to the web site also.

To register, you will need your student ID, and you will also need the course ID, which has been emailed to all of you. You should expect to spend 2-3 hours per week reading the material in addition to the time required for  the homework. You will find that the web site contains a lot of additional resources to help you understand the information. Explore it!

Your grade on the homework assignments will be clear as you complete the homework. Each assignment will be worth a certain number of points. Your final homework grade will simply be the fraction of the points you have earned during the term relative to the total number possible.

Homework assignments will appear each week on the course web page at Each homework assignment will be available until its posted due date. Once that date/time is passed, the assignment will be "closed" and there will be no way to get the points for that homework. No exceptions can be made. You will be able to review any homework assignment at any time during the term.


We will be using the iClicker remotes (electronic, hand-held response pads) in most lectures to help you assess if you have understood the material and get feedback from the class. In most classes, you will get points for simply answering the questions, right or wrong. In some classes, the clickers will be used for a short quiz. If you skip lectures, or forget your clicker, you will not get the points from the questions or quiz that day. Come to lecture and bring your clicker!

Your iClicker score will be the fraction of the total number of points you have accumulated during the term compared to the total number of points possible. However, I will reduce the total number of points possible by 10% before I calculate your grades. In other words, you can miss about 2 lectures and still get up to 100% of the credit from questions and quizzes.

It will be important to register your iClickers in order for me to associate it with you!   You can register any iClicker (new or used) for this class on the iClicker web site.  Information about how to register your iClicker can be found here.

         Midterm and Final:

There will be two midterms and a final.   You must take all exams in order to pass the course.   Each midterm will cover all material up to that point in the course, but the second midterm will emphasize the material covered after the first midterm.   The final will cover material from the whole term.

Discussion Sections:

Discussion sections are mandatory. Attendance will be taken. More importantly, this is your primary opportunity to ask questions outside of lecture and get help working out particular problems. Be sure to take advantage of this! 

Monday evening Sections (01E,01F) meet in Earth and Marine Sciences B214.

Monday morning (01A) section, all Tuesday sections (01B, 01C) and the Wednesday section (01D) meet in Physical Sciences 114.







10:00-11:45 am   Lecture


10:00-11:45 am   Lecture


11:00 am -12:10 pm 01-A (Feña)


12:30-1:40 pm 01-D (Feña)


5-6:10 pm 01-E (Camille)

6:00-7:10 pm 01-B (Elizabeth)


6:30-7:40 pm 01-F (Camille)

7:30-8:40 pm 01-C (Elizabeth)