G eorge M ason U niversity

Department of Physics and Astronomy

ASTR 103 - Astronomy

Section 1

Fall Semester 2004

Web Site Topics
Welcome to the home page for Astronomy 103, Section 1 offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. This site supports an introductory college-level course in astronomy offered in a traditional lecture mode. The site contains information about the course syllabus, course notes, astronomy supplement text, reading resources, internet resources, viewing the sky, and a link to the textbook web site.
Fall Semester 2004

Prerequisites None. An introduction to astronomy; covering Earth-Sky relationships, an overview of the Solar System, the Sun, the stars, our Galaxy, other galaxies, the large-scale structure of the Universe, and cosmology. This course is not intended for physics majors.

Class - The course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1:30 to 2:45 PM, in ST, room 7, GMU Campus.

Textbook - J. Bennett, M. Donahue, N. Schneider, and M. Voit, The Essential Cosmic Perspective, 3rd Edition, Addison Wesley, 2004.

Inclass Examinations - The inclass examinations are scheduled as follows (see Syllabus).

  • Exam 1: Thursday, September 23, 1:30 to 2:45 PM, ST, room 7.
  • Exam 2: Thursday, October 21, 1:30 to 2:45 PM, ST, room 7.
  • Exam 3: Thursday, November 18, 1:30 to 2:45 PM, ST, room 7.
  • Final Exam: Thursday, Decmber 16, 1:30 AM to 4:15 PM, ST, room 7.
  • Sample Exam - Sample Exam.

Class Performance - Class average and median along with a histogram of scores can be found on the following web page Performance.


Chapter 1 - Slides.

Chapter 2 - Slides.

Chapter 3 - Slides.

Chapter 4 - Slides.

Chapter 5 - Slides.

Chapter 6 - Slides.

Chapter 7 - Slides.

Chapter 8 - Slides.

Chapter 9 - Slides.

Chapter 10 - Slides.

Chapter 11 - Slides.

Chapter 12 - Slides.

Chapter 13 - Slides.

Chapter 14 - Slides.

Chapter 15 - Slides.

Chapter 16 - Slides.

Chapter 17 - Slides.

Chapter 18 - Slides.


Astronomy Tutoring Available

Observing Session Schedule

During the semester the Physics and Astronomy Department offers observing sessions for the introductory astronomy courses and anyone who is interested. The observing utilizes a twelve-inch, computer-controlled, Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope configured for naked-eye observations. The schedule and additional information can be found at the following website Observing Sessions. Highlights of what is visible in the night sky, particularly the planets, in February and early March is located at Highlights for the Night Sky in February 2004.

Astronomy Club Forming

Efforts are being made to form an astronomy club on the GMU campus. Interested students should contact the Physics and Astronomy Department Office for more information. As soon as a web site has been established announcing the formation of an astronomy club, the URL will be listed here [Astronomy Club].

Interesting Astronomy Links

  • Astronomy Picture of the Day. Each day a different picture and caption having to do with astronomy is displayed on this NASA site. There is also an archive of past pictures.
  • The Universe Today. This site collects and posts space exploration news from around the internet.
  • SpaceRef.com. This site like the one above collects and posts space exploration news. Many articles deal with astronomy.
  • NASA Space Science. The site and its contents are provided by NASA, and the site is considered to be the agency's main site for astronomy, planetary, and solar science missions and programs.
  • Space Environment Center. NOAA site for space environment, space weather alerts and forecasts.
  • SpaceWeather.Com. Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.
  • Solar Data Analysis Center, Goddard Space Flight Center. Current multi-spectral images of the full solar disk from ground-based observatories and orbiting observatories.
  • National Solar Observatory. National Solar Observatory (NSO) web site with links to the Kitt Peak Solar Observatory and the Sacramento Peak Solar Observatory.
  • Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. The most comprehensive reference on astronomy and astrophysics ever published. Comprising more than 2.5 million words, the Encyclopedia is a work of unprecedented scope and quality written by 800 of the world's leading names in astronomy and astrophysics.
  • An Astronomy Course for Students Using the Internet This site is provided by Jack C. Troeger and has some interesting information on astronomy for beginning students.
  • Introduction to Astronomy. Course notes for introductory course offered by the Physics Department, University of California, San Diego.
  • Virtual Solar System . Provided by National Geographic, this site provides a virtual trip to discover the wonders of our Solar System in a spectacular 3-D environment. Take a flyby tour of the Sun and each planet in its orbit, observe planets and extraterrestrial weather patterns up close, and more.
  • An Atlas of the Universe. This web site is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like. There are nine main maps on this web site, each one approximately ten times the scale of the previous one. The first map shows the nearest stars and then the other maps slowly expand out until we have reached the scale of the entire visible universe.
  • Ned Wright's Cosmology Tutorial. This site is provided by Professor Edward L. Wright, Astronomy Department, UCLA. The site contains a wide and varied discussion of modern cosmology with some interesting pictures and Java Applets.
  • The Elegant Universe. The host and writer is Brian Green, Physics Department faculty member at Columbia University, and author of the popular science book by the same name. He discusses modern cosmology, string theory, and multi-dimensional universes.
  • Superstring Theory and M-Theory. This site provides a brief introduction to the evolution of field theories in physics. Beginning with Newton's gravitation, the site traces developments through Maxwell's unification of electricity and magnetism, Einstein's theory of relativity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. The site describes scientists' continuing efforts to combine the theories into what was originally termed the Grand Unification Theory. Focusing on relativity and quantum theory, the site ends with the recent Superstring theory (and M-theory).
  • The Particle Adventure. The Particle Data Group of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory presents an award-winning interactive tour of quarks, neutrinos, antimatter, extra dimensions, dark matter, accelerators, and particle detectors.
  • Perspectives in Astrobiology. NASA Science News for March 30, 2001. NATO and NASA are joining forces to host an Advanced Study Institute for astrobiology in Crete, Sept 29-Oct 10, 2001. A diverse group of the world's most prominent scientists will share with students what they have learned lately about life in the Universe.
  • Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion. If you are interested in the interface between science, ethics, and religion, you might want to visit this site sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Be sure and visit the pages on Cosmic Questions.
Latest Modification to the System: February 26, 2004

Home Page Syllabus Assignments Examinations Computer-Based Quizzes
Course Notes Astronomy Supplement Reading Resources Internet Resources Sky View

© 1995, J. C. Evans
Physics & Astronomy Department, George Mason University
Maintained by J. C. Evans; jevans@gmu.edu