AST 101

Fall 2018

Course Outline


Course Title: Astronomy of the Solar System

Course Number: AST 101  CRN: 93921

Professor Philip Harrington

Office: (631) 344-5669 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm)

Office hours: By appointment

Textbook (required)    Click to go to the Ammerman bookstore listing

  • Astronomy Today: Solar System (volume I) 9th edition (Pearson, 9780134566221)

Course hours:  Tuesday 6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.; Thursday 6:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M. 

Room: Smithtown Science Building 201

Two ways to get the textbook:


Course Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Make measurements using the metric system and perform simple forms of data analysis to enhance problem-solving skills.

  2. Understand the night sky by knowing major stars and constellations as well as tracking the motions of the sky, the Moon, and planets. To accomplish this, you will learn how to use a planisphere (star finder) and become familiar with the horizon coordinate system.

  3. Understand the scientific method and how it applies to astronomy. This will provide an understanding of how our ideas about the solar system (and universe) have evolved over the ages, especially during the past century while using technological advances.

  4. Understand the basic properties of the Earth and how they compare to other worlds.

  5. Know the essential properties of the Sun and its role within the Solar System.

  6. Learn the properties of the planets, asteroids, comets, and other objects within the solar system. Using this information, you will be able understand how these physical properties can be used to form a standard theory on the formation and evolution of the Solar System.

  7. Have a clear understanding of the scale of the solar system and our position within the universe.

  8. Have a sufficient understanding of astronomical phenomena so as to have an appreciation of recent developments in the field.

Procedures for Accomplishing These Objectives:


Student Requirements for Completion of Course

To pass this course successfully, each student must complete the following:

Standing assignment

Astronomy and space exploration are in the news all the time.  Your assignment across the semester is to submit ten news articles from bona fide sources that discuss some aspect of astronomy or space exploration.  Articles must be no more than one year old.  You are to read each article and then write a brief summary/discussion of the content on this article submission form.  Attach a copy of the article to the form and submit both to the instructor.  If approved, you will receive 10 points toward a test grade.  Ten approved articles equals a score of 100 on a test.  You may hand in all ten at once, or submit them weekly, BUT you must have handed in at least five articles by the midterm.  After the midterm, no more than five will be accepted for the rest of the semester.  This assignment counts the same as a test grade.  



Grading Practices

The following grading practices will be adhered to throughout the semester:

Your grade will be determined as follows:

Class attendance/participation: 15% Homework/Lab assignments: 30%
Tests/Mid-Term: 30% Final exam: 25%
  TOTAL: 100%



Extra Credit: Between 1 and 4 extra-credit points per activity will be allowed for the following (a maximum of 10 points extra credit per student will be permitted).  Read each requirement carefully:

You may earn up to 10 points extra credit during the semester.  Each submitted project is worth between 1 and 4 extra-credit points depending on level of effort and quality.  Here are some suggestions:


Disability Services

Suffolk County Community College provides reasonable accommodations to registered students with disabilities who have self-identified and been approved by the Office of Disability Services.  Once approved for reasonable accommodations, such students will be provided with a laminated letter, describing the specific accommodations.   Students must present this laminated letter to each of their professors before accommodations can be provided.

Students who have, or think they may have, a disability are invited to contact Disability Services for a confidential consultation.  Call the Disability Services Office at 631-451-4045, email the Office at  or stop by to make an appointment at Room 202 in the Ammerman Building.



At Suffolk, we are CREATING AWARENESS and READINESS to END STIGMA about mental health issues.  Please know that if you need support related to your psychological, emotional or social well being, there are counselors available on campus in the Counseling Center (Ammerman Building Room 209) to provide free and confidential counseling services.  Contact Sarah Boles, Coordinator of Mental Health Services, at or (631) 451-4530 for more information.


Course Schedule

(revised 10/16/2018)
Click here for homework assignments


Tutoring help available





Important dates/events  


Intro to course



Chapter 1.  Charting the Heavens





Chapter 2.  The Copernican Revolution



Practice test chapters 1-2 answer key


Chapter 6.  The Solar System

Test #1: Chapters 1, 2




Chapter 8.  The Moon and Mercury



Practice test chapters 6-8 answer key


Chapter 9.  Venus

Test #2: Chapters 6, 8




Chapter 10.  Mars



Practice test chapters 9-10 answer key


Test #3: Midterm exam covering chapters 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10


Chapter 11.  Jupiter

5 news articles must have been handed in by tonight


Common hour after 7


Chapter 12.  Saturn



Practice test chapters 11-12 answer key


Chapter 13.  Uranus and Neptune

Test #4: Chapters 11, 12


Chapter 14.  Solar System Debris


Common hour after 7


Practice test chapters 13-14 answer key


Chapter 16.  The Sun

Test #5: Chapters 13, 14


Last night to hand in homework, extra credit, labs, and articles


Review for final: Planetary Jeopardy



Final exam part 1

Comprehensive test, concentrating on Ch 11-14, 16


Final exam part 2

* Winter star map

Star ID in planetarium


Return final exams, post grades



Class does not meet on Tuesday, October 9 and Thursday, November 22


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