Astronomy 401

Stars & Planets

Fall Semester 2017

TTh 5:30-6:45pm

MPHY 109

Course Instructor: Prof. D. L. DePoy

Office: MIST225/MUNN204

Email: depoy[at]

Office Hours: can be arranged via email

Course TA: Sarah Cantu (scantu3[at]

Office: MIST315

Email: scantu3[at]

Office Hours: TTh 11-12pm (additional hours can be arranged via email)

On-Line Information

Course Syllabus (PDF)

Astronomy Picture of the Day

(highly recommended source of astronomical images, new one every day)

NASA Planetary Photojournal

(handy compilation of photos from NASA planetary missions)

Course Format

The course is structured so that, in general, there will be a lecture every Tuesday, a reading assignment as homework, and a discussion of the reading on Thursday. The topics to be covered are listed below. The assignments will be updated throughout the semester.

August 31, 2017: Introduction

September 5/7, 2017: Terrestrial Planets
Assignment: Read "The Martian" by A. Weir and write a summary and the most plausible and implausible thing that happened

September 9/11, 2017: Jovian Planets and Other Solar System Constituents
Assignment: Choose a mission/planet from NASA Planetary Photojournal and write a summary of the mission and major findings

September 16/18, 2017: Origin of the Solar System
Assignment: Calculate the total angular momentum of the solar system and the equilibrium temperatures for each planet (see Week 3 assignment )


Your course grade will be determined by essays on the required reading (45%; due the Thursday after the assignment), participation in classroom discussions about the readings and weekly topics (15%), a ~10-minute talk at the end of the semester further investigating one of the course topics (40%).

Updated: September 19, 2017