AST 102

Astronomy of Stars and Galaxies

Spring 2019 Course Outline

Instructor: Philip S. Harrington

CRN: 33955

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


Office hours: By appointment

Textbook (required...and FREE!): Astronomy (

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

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 using a planisphere (star finder).

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

  4. Identify major characteristics of stars, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and quasars. 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 universe.

  5. Have a clear understanding of the scale of the universe and our position within.

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

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



Extra Credit

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.


Schedule (Revised Feb 12, 2019)

1/29 Introduction to course
Chapter 2: Observing the Sky: The Birth of Astronomy
2/7 Chapter 5: Radiation and Spectra
2/12 Snow day!
2/14 Chapter 16: The Sun: A Nuclear Powerhouse Practice test for chapters 2, 5, 16
Chapter 17: Analyzing Starlight 2/19: Test #1 (Ch 2, 5, 16)
Chapter 18: The Stars: A Celestial Census Practice test for chapters 17-18
Chapter 19: Celestial Distances 2/28: Test #2 (Ch 17, 18)
3/5: Evening common hour; class ends @ 7
Chapter 20: Between the Stars: Gas and Dust in Space Practice test for chapters 19-20
3/12  No class tonight

Chapter 21: The Birth of Stars and the Discovery of Planets outside the Solar System 3/19: Midterm exam (Ch 2, 5, 16-20)
3/21: At least 5 news articles due by tonight
3/21: Evening common hour; class ends @ 7
Spring break
Chapter 22: Stars: From Adolescence to Old Age
4/9 Chapter 23: The Death of Stars
Practice test for chapters 21-22
Note: chapters 23 and 24 are combined into one PDF file
4/11 Chapter 24: Black Holes and Curved Spacetime
4/11: Test #4 (Ch 21, 22) --- NEW DATE
Chapter 25: The Milky Way Galaxy Practice test for chapters 23-24-25
4/23 Chapter 26: Galaxies 4/23: Test #5 (Ch 23, 24, 25)
4/25 Chapter 27: Quasars and Active Galaxies
Chapter 28: The Evolution & Distribution of Galaxies 5/2: Last night to hand in homework, extra credits, labs, and articles
5/7 Chapter 29: The Big Bang
Review for Final: Stellar Jeopardy

5/9 Final Exam Comprehensive test, concentrating on Ch 21-29
Posting of final grades

  CLASS WILL NOT MEET ON 3/12, 3/26, 3/28

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