Session 1: Old Main Building, Room 112
Session 2: Old Main Building, TBA
Tutorial rooms, as announced.
One of Monday – Thursday night, from 6-8 pm.
UNSW Observatory. Meet outside the lecture room; you will be taken to the observatory
The history of civilisation has been inextricably linked to our perception of our physical environment. Our understanding of that environment and our attempts to control it have been the driving force behind our technological development as a species. Astronomy is the oldest science and it is through a consciousness of the heavens that we first came to recognise our place in the universe. This has developed from an initial flat-Earth, homosapien-centred view of the universe, to one dominated on the large scales by the processes of clustering and voids of galaxies, to the small scale of the fundamental forces and elementary particles. The lecture material is divided into three main parts, dealing in turn with astronomical phenomena at ever increasing distance from us:
In addition there will be discussion on special topics such as observatories around the world, Astronomy in Antarctica (which UNSW is pioneering) and current hot topics in astronomy.
||Lectures on the solar system
||Lectures on stars and their
||Lectures on galaxies
||No lectures (tutorials and night
To pass you must achieve a satisfactory performance in each of:
An on-line test comprised of multiple-choice questions will be set on general astronomical topics. While this is based on the lectures, it extends beyond the material covered in the lectures (but within the material covered by the recommended textbook). You will need to research some of the answers for yourself. The test will be available online by means of the course WebCT Vista site, and details will be e-mailed to you. The test isn't timed, and you can go back and revisit it as many times as you like before final submission. The test needs to be completed by the advertised deadline.
You are required to privately research an issue or topic and present your findings in the form of a 10-12 minute oral presentation to a tutorial group of your fellow students, who will then ask you questions. Marks will be awarded on the basis of the overall plan for the talk, the quality of the presentation and the handling of questions. Marks will also be awarded for your contribution to the discussion following other student's talks.
presentations take place during two of the final four weeks of the
You need to attend two tutorials, if you only attend one, your mark for
the oral presentation will be halved. You will be divided into tutorial
on an availability form that you complete. When
this is done you can choose your topic for presentation from a list
provided by the tutor.
your talk you may use either the blackboard or an overhead projector.
However slide projectors or computer displays are not available. Do not
try to cover too much material in your talk. Use no more than one
overhead transparency per minute of your talk, and make sure all
transparancies are easily read from the back of the room. Remember you
are trying to give a brief, but entertaining talk to your fellow
students. Anyone simply reading from a script will be scored poorly!
will be given the opportunity to do some real observing of astronomical
to learn how to use a telescope. These
classes take place in the UNSW Observatory on the roof of the Computer
Engineering (CSE) building, uphill from the Old Main Building,
adjactent to the lower campus parking station, during two of the final
weeks of session
(the alternate two weeks from your oral presentation).
You need to complete an availability form and return it to the lecturer to indicate which classes you can attend.
for these classes is based upon participation and the completion of a
Access to the Observatory is via the
elevator to the top floor, and then through two locked doors. You must
be accompanied by your tutor, and will normally assemble in the Physics
foyer (the lobby with the Foucault Pendulum in the Old Main Building)
to walking to the Observatory. Don't
be late, since the class will move off to the observatory (or to a
nearby lecture room for a brief introductory talk) at a few minutes
The Observatory contains one C14 (Celestron 14") Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, housed inside the dome, and four portable Meade 8s (8") telescopes, which can be mounted on stands on the roof of the CSE building.
You will generally be doing your exercises in groups of 3-4 students using the C8 telescopes, while your tutor will point the C14 to sources of interest in the sky. There is an electronic (CCD) camera for the C14, though it is not normally possible to set this up during group classes. The C14 is connected to a computer with planetarium software, which allows one to readily find objects of interest.
You will be working at night and in the dark, so please bring warm clothing and a torch, as well as your study materials. To access the Observatory, all students must be wearing hard-soled shoes, without high heels.
Classes are not cancelled due to bad
weather! In the event of particularly inclement wseather your tutor
will have prepared an alternative project for you.
If you are interested in using the observatory at other times, the Science Outreach Centre holds regular observing nights, usually on Fridays. Further information can be obtained from the Outreach manager, on 02-9385-7307 in the Faculty of Science Student Office.
student is required to maintain a journal containing articles from the
astronomy and related space sciences. These
may be scientific, technical, political or even historical in nature.
Your own concise analytic comments about each
article should be included. You can
also include discussion of points from the lectures which might have
particularly interested you and which you researched further.
needs to be completed by the final week
of the course.
should be taken from a selection of sources, current during the
session. Typical articles include clippings from newspapers. Long
articles from Astronomy magazines can be used, but their number should
be limited, and they should be from several sources. Similarly the
internet and the web may be used to source articles, but their number
should comprise no more than one third the total number selected. The
only exception to this is newspaper articles collected from on-line
issues of Australian newspapers - these may be counted as equivalent to
the printed edition of that article.
Typically you should aim to collect, and comment on, six articles during session.
The most important element in assessment is the quality of the the comment on the articles. These don't have to be long, perhaps a couple of paragraphs on average, but they should discuss the merits of the journalism, what you learnt from it, what you think about it (including whether you disagree or think it is bad journalism), etc etc.
You may include photocopies of the journal articles instead of the original copy if you wish. The quality and insight of your commentary is the most important element of the assessment.
Portfolios are to be handed in (to the box outside Room 129, Old Main Building) by the deadline at the end of session. Please include the cover sheet with your submission.
You may also wish to enter your portfolio for the Heinz Harant Challenge Prize. A prize of $1,000, awarded twice yearly, has been established especially for work done by students in the UNSW General Education Program. The prize commemorates one of the University’s earliest alumni and most devoted supporters, the late Heinz Harant, a long-serving member of the University Council and board member of University Union until his death in 1992. It is called ‘The Heinz Harant Challenge Prize’ because challenging orthodoxy was the driving spirit of Heinz Harant’s life and the prize attempts to recognise this belief.
prize recognises challenging and original thinking in work submitted
for assessment in a General Education course. Students may submit their
own work of high standard if they feel that it meets the spirit of the
prize. Entry forms are available from NewSouth Q and work must be
submitted within one month of the close of the session in which the
course is offered (note this only applies for the Session 1 and 2
courses, not the Summer Session course for which the prize is not
available). The first Heinz-Harant prize was won by Nicola Flint, a
Commerce student, for her portfolio in the 1998 Session I Astronomy
There are several excellent text books available (listed below) which complement the lectures. It is recommended that you use one of these when attempting the assignments. Lectures will be based on Discovering the Universe, which also contains an interactive CD that accompanies the text.
This course is available to students from the Faculty of Science.
course is not
available with PHYS2160 (Astronomy) or
PHYS3160 (Astrophysics). Note that GENS4003 (Cosmology) is
no longer an exclusion
for this course. You may like to take
this if you wish to learn about Cosmology, the study of the Universe as
whole. If you have enjoyed this course
you may also like to do GENS4014 (Are We Alone?) and/or GENS4015 (Brave
World). Further information on these can be found on
the School of Physics website at www.phys.unsw.edu.au.
is the presentation of the thoughts or work of another as one’s
own.* Examples include:
the purposes of this policy, submitting an assessment item that has
already been submitted for academic credit elsewhere may be considered
Knowingly permitting your work to be copied by another student may also be considered to be plagiarism.
Note that an assessment item produced in oral, not written, form, or involving live presentation, may similarly contain plagiarised material.
The inclusion of the thoughts or work of another with attribution appropriate to the academic discipline does not amount to plagiarism.
The Learning Centre website is main repository for resources for staff and students on plagiarism and academic honesty. These resources can be located via: http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/plagiarism
The Learning Centre also provides substantial educational written materials, workshops, and tutorials to aid students, for example, in:
assistance is available on request from The Learning Centre.
Students are also reminded that careful time management is an important part of study and one of the identified causes of plagiarism is poor time management. Students should allow sufficient time for research, drafting, and the proper referencing of sources in preparing all assessment items.
* Based on that proposed to the University of Newcastle by the St James Ethics Centre. Used with kind permission from the University of Newcastle
† Adapted with kind permission from the University of Melbourne.