Physics 406: Introduction to Modern Astronomy, Lab Info
Note: the bar menu to the left takes you to Prof. Möbius's Physics
406 site. His course is similar to Prof. Hollweg's course, but has
significant differences as well.
- Course Instructor - Spring Term 2000: Prof. Joe
- Course Instructor - Fall Term 1999Prof.
Eberhard Möbius Eberhard.Mobius@unh.edu
- TAs: Chris
Siren, Joel Shaw
- Office: DeMeritt Hall, Room 306 (Physics Grad Cubes), Cube H
- Chris's Office Hours: Monday 1-2, Tuesday 12:30-1:30, or by
- Office #1: Morse Hall, Room 113; Phone 862-0712 ask for Chris
- Office #2: DeMeritt Hall, Room 306 (Physics Grad Cubes), Cube H
- Joel's Office Hours: TBA or by
- Office: DeMeritt Hall, Room 306 (Physics Grad Cubes), Cube ?
- Office Phone: 862-2067 (ask for Chris or Joel)
You may wish to check out some Astronomy Links
that former Astronomy TA, Chris Siren has found.
- Lab Times:
The first labs will be held the week of February 7. Indoor labs
promptly at 6:10 pm or 8:10 pm. If it looks clear or only partly cloudy,
we are likely to go outside, so arrive early (i.e. on the hour) for
outdoor labs. If you arrive on your scheduled lab night and time and we
are not there, we've left for the observatory. A map showing its location, west of the field house,
is on the physics 406 bulletin board. If you arrive late, be sure to
check in as we will be taking attendance.
- Required Work:
Combined with the planetarium visit, lab work contributes to 15% of
your overall grade, which works out to 3.33% of your total grade per lab.
There will be three indoor labs and at least one (weather
lab. You are expected to
read the labs and recommended readings ahead of time. Bring a copy of
Kuhn and a calculator to each indoor lab. You will need a pencil, paper,
and a hard surface for sketches for the outdoor lab.
- Using a Desktop Planetarium: Kuhn, pp. 13-23; Sky &
Telescope - Understanding Celestial Coordinates
- Lenses, Mirrors, and Telescopes: Kuhn, Chapter 5
- Angles, Distances (Parallax), and Sizes: Kuhn, pp. 47-48, 154-159,
- Discussion vs. Copying:
While discussion of the lab with your partner and other classmates is
encouraged, wholesale copying is not and will be penalized. In such
cases, we typically divide the grade evenly between the copiers. Your
final responses should be your own. Plagiarism and academic fraud is seen
as a serious offence by the University.
Each lab will be graded on a ten point scale. Thoughtfulness of
response and contributing calculations may count towards partial credit,
although there may be little opportunity for this, as most of the labs are
broken down step by step. Neatness counts! If we can't read it, we can't
- Make-up Points:
We would like everyone to earn perfect scores on at least 8 out of 10
labs; however, this will not always work out. If you are unsatisfied with
your lab grade, you may earn back up to half of the lost points in an
indoor lab or up to three-quarters of the lost points of the outdoor lab
by going through the lab again with your TA during office hours or by
appointment. For outdoor lab make-ups, you will be expected to rewrite
the sections where you lost the points, but only after conferring with
your TA. These make-ups should be done as soon as possible after
receiving the graded lab, while the material is still fresh in your
- Make-up Labs:
Due to various scheduling constraints, these are very, very difficult
to arrange, and require a good excuse. Still, if you have one, we will do
what we can to accommodate you. It is your responsibility to seek
out a make-up lab. Typically, we will try to put you into another section
doing the lab that you missed. We may also run a few make-up labs towards
the end of the term.
- Due Dates:
All indoor labs are due at the end of that night's lab session. The
outdoor lab requires som additional research and will be due one
week after your lab class, at 5 pm. Such labs should be placed inside
your TA's lab report bin (with the pressboard doors and envelop
drop-slots) on the first floor of DeMeritt; please do not put them in your
TA's mailbox, in another TA's bin or in the homework bin for this or
other physics classes.
- Late Policy:
Three quarter credit will be given if a lab is up to a week late.
After that it will be given half credit. No labs will be accepted after
the last day of classes, December 10th. Notify your TA immediately
if you have extenuating circumstances. Late labs should also be placed in
your TA's lab report bin.
- Outdoor Labs:
You should be prepared to go out on any lab night. Weather in New
Hampshire can be fickle, so we'll take advantage of it when we can, and it
can change from the afternoon to evening. Dress warmly! You are going to
be standing around outside in the cold for nearly two hours, so you'll
have a lot longer to appreciate the cold than walking between classes.
Also, the temperature can drop 20 degrees or more at night. We advise
wearing multiple layers, as well as a hat and appropriate footwear: we
have to tromp through the field to get there. Be sure to have pencil,
paper, and a hard surface for sketching. When writing the report, Kuhn is
a good resource, but need not be the only resource for all of your
responses. If you want to see more of the observatory, you may wish to
attend one of the open nights
offered twice a month.
- Term Papers:
The main guidelines for writing the term papers, due at the end of the
semester, are found in the Outdoor Lab
Manual, but you may benefit from this additional advice. This is a
science course, not a history or philosophy course, so, while historical
information and philosophical insights may serve to put the subject of
your paper into context, the bulk of your paper should be
science-oriented. By science-oriented, we mean that we are looking for
both descriptive information about the object, theorem, or phenomenon, as
well as justifications for that information. How do we know what we know,
and why do we believe what we believe? This kind of material should
dominate the paper, and should, on its own, fulfill the page requirements.
Even well-written papers which do not include such justification can earn
no more than a B. Justifying your assertions in a scientific paper is
just as important as in a literary or historical paper. Be sure, also to
express yourself in a way that makes it clear that you understand the
concepts you are discussing and not merely regurgitating some choice bits
from a book or article. If you are having difficulty with an article or
an idea you've come across, talk to one of us or to Prof. Hollweg and we
may be able to help you figure it out.
If you find yourself having to enlarge the font size, play
with margins, or repeat your points in order to meet the page requirements
(remember, your TAs were students once, too!), you probably need to do
more research or look for a new topic. For this reason, you should start
thinking about a topic as soon as possible, and begin reserach at least
three weeks in advance. Some books for popular topics, such as black
holes, comets and meteors, wind up being all checked out a couple weeks
before the due date, so with these especially, the earlier you begin
research, the better.
Be sure to select sources other than Kuhn, encyclopedias, or
internet resources. While all of these may be helpful in your research,
your Kuhn and encyclopediae may be too general resources, and the
internet, while often able to provide fairly recent information, doesn't
require the same level of editorial control on content as printed material
and thus can sometimes be suspect. Net sources are also often highly
specialized or very general and one should have a balance.
Wherever you draw your sources from, be sure you cite them in your
bibliography. Also if you are making direct quotations or paraphrasing a
part of an article, be sure to include a citation within the body of the
paper - otherwise you are commiting plagerism.
Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! Have a friend read your paper to make
sure that it is clearly written and understandable, as well as
grammatically sound. This should also help you catch places where you
haven't defined jargon. Assume your reader is intelligent, but hasn't
necessarily taken an astronomy class.
The UNH Writing
Center is another valuable resource for advice on writing papers.
This page originally designed by Chris Siren, with the
buttons on the left and header by Jan Heirtzler.