Physics 55 Spring 2007
General Course Information
Official Course Schedule Entry
Lecture Time: MWF 3:05-3:55 PM Room 130
Textbook: The Cosmic Perspective, Fourth Edition, Media Update, by Bennett, Donahue, Schneider and Voit, Pearson/Addison-Wesley.
The accompanying website is Mastering Astronomy. Expect to spend about 4-6 hours per week reading
the textbook and exploring the website in preparation for the lectures.
Relevant readings and links to other info
for each lecture can be found in the syllabus.
You are encouraged to do the tutorials on the text website corresponding to
the relevant readings;
some quiz and exam questions will be drawn from
them. However these tutorials are neither required nor graded.
Grading: In-class Questions 5%, Homework 20%, Observation 20%, Quizzes 15%, Midterm 15%, Final 25%. Up to 5% extra credit may be gained
via pre-arranged projects.
- A curiosity and open mind to learn about the
- Some skepticism and a willingness to ask questions: how do
we know what we know about astronomy?
- A working knowledge of high-school mathematics
Appendix C of the
textbook ("A Few Mathematical Skills") reviews most of what
you need to know so please read this appendix if you feel your
skills are rusty. The course will also give you numerous
opportunities to review and to practice your mathematical skills.
- The ability to manipulate numbers written in
scientific notation, e.g., you should know how to
multiply 1.2 ×106 times the
number -3.4 ×10-3.
- The ability to manipulate and to understand simple
algebraic expressions such as F= G M1
M2 / d2.
- The ability to make and to appreciate simple x-y
Stuff you will need:
Note: You need to bring your PRS transmitter and
calculator to each class!
- The text The Cosmic Perspective,
Fourth Edition, Media Update by Jeffrey Bennett et
al. This can be purchased in the Bryan Center textbook store, one
- An inexpensive calculator that can handle
scientific notation, i.e., numbers of the form
1.23×10-4 (which might appear as
1.23E-4 on some calculators). Such calculators can be
purchased for about $10 at many stores. (A graphing
calculator like a Texas Instruments TI-83 is fine but
overkill for this course; you will mainly need to
compute products and powers of numbers.)
- A PRS (Personal Response System) RF transmitter. It can be purchased
at the bookstore.
- A computer with color display screen, CD-ROM, and
a connection to the Internet. You will be installing
and using a digital planetarium program, Voyager SkyGazer
that comes with your textbook. You
will also be running tutorials from the Mastering
Astronomy webpage associated with the text.
- A Duke computer
account for browsing the Internet and for
browser should be configured to display PDF
(Portable Document Format). The OIT web page has
links that explain how to do this. The TA and I can