ASTRONOMY 1050/1 & 1052/3 - PLANET EARTH

This course of study is an exploration of the Earth as our home and as a planetary member of the Solar System. It is the human intellect confronting the physical manifestations of the laws of Nature. We will proceed in a developmental / historical manner, exploring:

the motions of the celestial objects, the motions of objects on the Earth: their interconnectedness
the Copernican Revolution and Newton's Laws: the causes and nature of motion
the motions of the Earth's crust and the structures of landforms: seismic risk to populations
the Earth's interior and atmosphere: weather, climate, global meteorological patterns and cycles
the nature of waves: sound and light carrying information and energy
the characteristics of matter, radiation, energy: their forms and uses
the lives of the stars: energy source for Planet Earth and the creation of the elements.
The characteristics, dynamics, and evolution of the Earth and Solar System are investigated. This leads to the discovery and understanding of the fundamental scientific principles at work throughout the universe. Throughout, we will employ the scientific method - exploring new phenomena and seeking their underlying components. It is the goal of this course that every student will be able to use the scientific method in the critical examination of life on Planet Earth.

In addition to this page of information, there is an astronomy information page you can monitor for general information and late-breaking news of things astronomical.

Instructors:Dr. Frank Maloney
462 Mendel Science Center; 519-6023; 519-4820;; Office Hours: W 10:00 - 11:00 AM, T&Th 3:00 - 4:00 PM, or by appointment
  Dr. Philip Maurone
347 Mendel Science Center; 610-519-4860; Office Hours T 12:30 - 1:30, W 2:30 - 3:30, R 1:30 - 2:30

Text: The Physical Universe (13th Edition)
by Krauskopf & Beiser; ISBN 978-0-07-351212-9; Web Site

  In addition to the text, you must purchase a Turning Technologies ResponseCard XR response pad, that we call a "clicker". (Do not purchase a used clicker made by eInstruction. These were used in past semesters. Villanova has standardized to Turning Technologies clickers as of Fall 2009.) We will be using the clickers to take attendance, to measure classroom participation, to gather instructional feedback in class, and to take quizzes. If you do not bring your clicker to class, you can earn at most only 50% of the points available that class period.
Lab Materials: There is a $15 lab fee, which covers the cost of the lab book and all lab materials for Planet Earth.
Grading: Two one-hour tests
    September 22 and November 3, 2011
    February 16 and March 22, 2012
  10-minute Quizzes 100 points
  Attendance & Class Participation 50 points
    Proposal (due December 1, 2011)
    Report (due April 19, 2012)
50 points
  Comprehensive Final Exam May 5, 2012, 10:45 AM 100 (200) points
  TOTAL 500 (600) points
  Villanova University regulations prohibit the comsumption of food or drink in class or in lab. In addition, the use of computers, PDAs, cell phones, and other electronic devices is not permitted in class or in lab.

The grade scale is:     A  = 93 to 100     B+ = 87 to 89.999     C+ = 77 to 79.999     D+ = 67 to 69.999
  A- = 90 to 92.999 B   = 83 to 86.999C   = 73 to 76.999D   = 63 to 66.999
    B-  = 80 to 82.999C-  = 70 to 72.999D-  = 60 to 62.999


One of the more important aspects of this course involves integrating concepts. In class, we explore seemingly separate and independent concepts to help you to see how they are indeed related in very fundamental ways. In order to carry this mechanism of discovery into your daily lives, you will be required to complete an independent project, and submit a project report sometime before the end of the Spring 2012 term in AST 1052. The project will be your investigation into some aspect related to Planet Earth and how it fits into the spirit of interdisciplinary approaches to learning.

In the Fall ...
.. a one-page project PROPOSAL is due on December 1, 2011. If it is acceptable, you will earn 50 points. You should discuss your proposed project with Dr. Maloney or Dr. Maurone prior to December 1.
In the Spring ...
.. a one to two page project REPORT is due on April 19, 2012. It must contain details of what you did, where you did it, and how the project relates to Planet Earth.

Possible topics for your project include:

Extensive class time is devoted to demonstrations and discussions. As such, your attendance is vital. Attendance is taken at the beginning of each class. If you arrive after attendance is recorded, it is recorded as an absence.


DATE WEEK GROUP BLUE - SECTIONS 001, 003, and 005 GROUP WHITE - SECTIONS 002, 004, and 006
Aug 24 1 The Sky (241)
    aspects of the sky: appearance of celestial objects, motions, coordinates
    astronomical circumstances and gatherings, D-Day June 6, 1944
Introduction (247)
    examination of experimental design, computation
    introduction to Data Studio: tabular data and Cartesian coordinates
Aug 31 2 Introduction (247) The Sky (241)
Sep 07 3 Sky & Ecliptic (241)
    examination of the paths of the planets, Sun, and Moon
    meaning of the signs of the Zodiac
Hooke's Law - Elasticity (247)
    investigation of physical relationships by experimentation
    concepts of forces, motion, and elasticity
Sep 14 4 Hooke's Law - Elasticity (247) Sky & Ecliptic (241)
Sep 21 5 Sky & Earth I (241)
Hooke's Law - Periodic Motion (247)
Sep 28 6 Hooke's Law - Periodic Motion (247) Sky & Earth I (241)
Oct 05 7 Sky & Earth II (241) Freefall - Galileo's Tour de Force (247)
Oct 19 8 Freefall - Galileo's Tour de Force (247) Sky & Earth II (241)
Oct 26 9 The Total Lunar Eclipse of 10 December 2011 & the Saros (241)
    examination of the forthcoming total lunar eclipse
    determination of the cycle of eclipses - the Saros
Heating Rate & Surface Color (247)
Nov 02 10 Heating Rate & Surface Color (247) The Total Lunar Eclipse of 10 December 2011 & the Saros (241)
Nov 09 11 The Annular Solar Eclipse of 20 May 2012 (241)
    simulations of solar eclipses as seen from the Moon
    eclipses in history & their effects on Earthly affairs
Cooling Rate & Surface Color (247)
Nov 16 12 Cooling Rate & Surface Color (247) The Annular Solar Eclipse of 20 May 2012 (241)
Nov 30 13 Make Up Lab * Make Up Lab *
Dec 07 14 Final Lab Practicum (241 & 247) Final Lab Practicum (241 & 247)


Jan 18 1 The Clockwork of the Moon & Planets (241) Light from a Point Source (247)
    behavior of light intensity with distance
Jan 25 2 Light from a Point Source (247) The Clockwork of the Moon & Planets (241)Kepler and the Distance to Mars (241)
Feb 01 3 Kepler and the Distance to Mars (241) Color and Distance (247)
    behavior of light intensity with color & distance
Feb 08 4 Color and Distance (247) Kepler and the Distance to Mars (241
Feb 15 5 Kepler's Harmonic Law & Galileo's Observations of Jupiter (241) Attenuation of Light (247)
    behavior of the effects of attenuation on light
Feb 22 6 Attenuation of Light (247) Kepler's Harmonic Law & Galileo's Observations of Jupiter (241)
Feb 29 7 Newton and the Masses of the Sun & Jupiter (241)
    Newton's modification of Kepler's harmonic law
    a determination of the mass of the Sun and the mass of Jupiter
Color & Temperature
    observations of the fundamental link between color and temperature
Mar 14 8 Color & Temperature (247) Newton and the Masses of the Sun & Jupiter (241)
Mar 21 9 Roemer and the Speed of Light (241)
    Roemer's classic determination of the speed of light
    Laboratory measurement of light using laser & rotating mirror
Radioactivity I (247)
    behavior of radiation energy with distance & attenuation
Mar 28 10 Radioactivity I (247) Roemer and the Speed of Light (241)
Apr 04 11 Asteroids, Comets, Meteors (241)
    examination of the smaller objects in the solar system
    meteor impacts & Halley's comet throughout history
Radioactivity II (247)
    behavior of radiation in time; half-life & radiometric dating
Apr 11 12 Radioactivity II (247) Asteroids, Comets, Meteors (241)
Apr 18 13 Make Up Lab * Make Up Lab *
Apr 25 14 Final Lab Practicum (241 & 247) Final Lab Practicum (241 & 247)
May 02   No Lab (VU follows Monday Schedule) No Lab (VU follows Monday Schedule)


The lab practicum will be given during the last scheduled lab period. There will be a session in Mendel 241 (the simulations) and a session in Mendel 247 (the experimentations). You must complete both sessions. The practicum counts for two lab grades; 2/14, or about 15% of your overall grade.

You will be required to conduct simulations and observations similar to those you have been performing during the semester. Typical operations are,


Because the laboartory experiments are sequential, and tied closely to the lectures and discussions, you must attend every laboratory. If you must miss a lab session, you must notify your instructor, who will arrange a make-up lab session that week.


As a community committed to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity, and love, Villanova University prides itself on maintaining the highest standards of academic integrity and does not tolerate any form of academic dishonesty or misconduct. Violations of the University's Code of Academic Integrity (as found, for example, in Appendix I of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Enchiridion) will be treated as serious offenses. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to, such activities as plagiarism, representing the work of another student as one's own, copying on tests, etc. The minimum penalty for such violations in this course will be an "F" for the assignment in question. The most serious offenses may lead to expulsion from the University, with a record of the reason for dismissal retained in the student's permanent file.

Each student in Planet Earth is expected to work independently, submitting his or her own work to be graded. Upon encountering a particularly difficult concept or assignment, students are encouraged to meet with the instructor for additional help.


It is the policy of Villanova to make reasonable academic accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability please contact me after class or during office hours and make arrangements to register with the Learning Support Office by contacting 610-519-5636 or at as soon as possible. Registration with the Learning Support Office is required in order to receive accommodations.

17 January 2012