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ASTR 1010 (formerly ASTR 1030) Syllabus

Course Syllabus

ASTR 1010 (formerly ASTR 1030) - Solar System Astronomy (formerly Survey of Astronomy with Lab) Section R35

4 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

As an introduction to astronomy, this course explores what we know about the solar system and how we know what we know. The topics covered in this course include the history of astronomy, methods of astronomy, formation of the solar system, and physical characteristics of the sun, planets, moons, and minor members of the solar system (asteroids, meteoroids, and comets). Students will learn to identify, locate and specify location of visible planets, some constellations and any other "visitors" that appear in our solar system during the course.

Course Outcomes:

By the end of the semester the student should be able to

  • Explain what is meant by the scientific method and how the theories and laws of science are developed. Relate the effects the use of this method has on mankind's thinking with specific application to the comparison of astronomy and astrology.
  • Beginning with our solar system, name the types of major structures in the universe and list them in their order of relative size and distance from Earth.
  • Understand and relate how the discoveries of astronomy have affected human understanding of the cosmos, for example, the effects of Galileo's discoveries on the acceptance of the geocentric theory.
  • Describe the celestial sphere and related terminology.Describe the history of astronomy including the discoveries of the early Greek astronomers and discoveries of later astronomers Copernicus and Galileo.
  • Be able to locate and identify four of the naked-eye planets and determine their coordinates using simple tools.
  • Explain orbital motion using Keplers Laws of Planetary Motion, Newtons Laws of Motion, and Newtons Universal Law of Gravity. Show how Kepler's Laws changed mankind's ideas of planetary orbits. Describe events leading to the discovery of Uranus and Neptune.
  • Explain phenomena resulting from the motions of the Earth and Moon (eclipses, solstices, equinoxes, seasons, and precession) including terminology used to define celestial motions and positions. Describe the orbital motion of the Moon and how it produces the observed phases, ocean tides, and eclipses.
  • Perform various experiments involving the acquisition of astronomical data through direct personal measurement and through Internet sources from observatories.
  • Name and describe the structure, features and characteristics of the collective groupings of planets and their moons and other smaller objects in the solar system. Describe the scale of the solar system including the relative sizes of objects and their orbits.
  • Describe the processes important to the formation and evolution of the internal structure, surface, and atmosphere of the Moon and Mercury.Describe the orbital and rotational characteristics of the Moon and Mercury.From basic data verify Kepler's hypothesis of elliptical orbits by determining the geometrical form of the orbit for one planet.
  • Describe the processes important to the formation and evolution of the internal structure, surface, and atmosphere of the Venus and Mars.Describe the orbital and rotational characteristics of the Venus and Mars.
  • Describe and compare the composition, internal structure, and atmospheres of the Jovian planets and explain why they are different.
  • Describe and compare the ring systems of the Jovian planets, how they were discovered, and explore why they are different. Describe and compare the orbital characteristics of the moon systems of the Jovian planets and explore why they are different. Describe the characteristics of Pluto and its moon.
  • Describe the structure, features and characteristics of the minor members (comets, asteroids, meteoroids, etc.) of the solar system.
  • Describe the basic structure, features, and characteristics of the Sun. Describe the Suns magnetic cycle and the structure of its atmosphere.
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

None, but students should have entry-level college reading and math skills. Some astronomy  concepts and lab exercises require an ability to understand and perform basic algebraic manipulations. This course is not appropriate for those needing remedial mathematics. Physics 1030 may be taken before or after this course for students who need a two-semester science elective. The most logical sequence is Physics followed by Astronomy since some of the physics laws apply to astronomy.

Course Topics:

Course topics should be covered in the order presented: Brief tour of the Universe, the birth of Astronomy, Earth, Moon and Sky, Introduction to the Solar System, Earth as a Planet, Cratered Worlds, Earth-Like Planets, The Gas Giants, Rings, Moons and Pluto, Comets and Asteroids, and the Sun, A garden-Variety Star.

Specific Course Requirements:

The student should have a comfortable working relationship with computers and the internet. This course will require the student to access many different web sites and use programs provided on those sites with the instructions given by the site host. The student should be familiar with the use of Microsoft Office.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:

To complete certain laboratory exercises the student should have a magnetic compass, a protractor, a 12- inch flexible rule, a meter stick or other rigid measuring stick, and a simple calculator that will handle scientific notation and basic trig functions. (Note: instructions for use of the calculator and the trig function needed will be given as part of the laboratory. No prior knowledge of trigonometry is required.)

Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:

Each unit will conclude with an online, timed quiz. This quiz must be taken during the window of availability specified in the course calendar. The student will need an approved proctor to administer the midterm and final examinations also during the time periods specified in the course calendar. Arranging for a proctor is the responsibility of the student. The proctor information must be submitted to and approved by the instructor early in the course, usually within the first two weeks. Information for obtaining a proctor can be found here

Grading Procedures:

Grades will be determined from the weighted average of the items listed in the chart below. Make-up quizzes are not given but the lowest of the 12 quizzes will be dropped and in cases where a student has shown significant improvement through the course and does well on the final exam, the weight of the final exam may be increased to reflect the then present level of mastery

Grading Scale:

Letter Grades will be assigned in accordance with the scale given in the table below

RangeLetter Grade
90 to 100A
80 to 89
70 to 79C
65 to 69D
00 to 64


Assignments and Projects:

The student is expected to do and self-grade but not submit homework assignments for each unit after the first. Those assignments that must be submitted for grading are the laboratories as assigned in the course calendar. Class participation will be outlined below. The quizzes must be taken in the time period specified in the calendar. Quiz grades will be available one day after the due date for the quiz. The mid-term and final examinations are done under the auspices of the student's proctor. Any work not submitted during the required time period will not be accepted.

Class Participation:

As an online learner there can be a sense of loneliness if one does not communicate with his or her peers. To prevent that all students are required to participate in the class discussion forums. There are several different forum topics. Occasionally, the instructor may post discussion questions on the class bulletin board. If so, each student has two responsibilities: to post comments about the discussion question and to respond to the posted comments of at least one other student. The most important way in which class participation points can be earned is through asking for help from other students and responding to the calls for help of others via the discussion forum. Your class participation grade depends how much you contribute compared to your classmates. NOTE: since the Class Participation [Discussion] component is weighted at 10%, if at the end of the semester you have not participated as much as the average for your class, your overall final grade will be reduced by up to ten percentage points: that’s one letter grade.

Late Policy:

One suggestion: don't get behind! Look over the calendar and print a hard copy of it and post it where you can see it. Mark due dates. Recognize the difference in time zones. Are you familiar with universal time? Look it up. Realize that there may be times when you have computer problems or ISP problems. Do not put off doing your work until the last available date, because that is when your computer will break down.

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on November 12, 2020