ISP 205, Section 3, Visions of the Universe, Spring 04


Course Home Page -

AstronomyPlace ->

  Class ID is: cm596550



Instructor:Robert Stein
Office:3266 Biomedical Physical Sciences
Phone:355 9200 X2413
Office Hours:Monday & Wednesday, 5:30 - 6:30 PM
or by appointment (send email to arrange)
Teaching Assistant:Turgay Birand
Class Location:BPS 1410
Class Time:Monday & Wednesday, 7:10 - 8:30 PM



Final Exam, Thursday, May 6, 3-5 pm, room Natural Science 326
Problems with Angel or Astronomy Place -- try clearing cookies, cache and history. Instructions


Required Text

"The Cosmic Perspective", 3rd edition, Bennett, Donahue, Schneider & Voit, Addison-Wesley 2003
You are also required to Register at Astronomy Place (using your Addison-Wesley key):
      The class ID on Astronomy Place is cm596550
      (Access key is bundled with all new textbooks, but must be purchased separately on line at astronomy place if you buy a used book. Cost $14.40)

Course Goals

ISP 205 is an astronomy course designed for non-science majors. Its goals are to open your eyes to the Universe beyond your immediate surroundings, to exhibit how scientists work, and to develop your scientific literacy. The universe is comprehensible through science that can be understood by anyone. You will learn the key concepts of astronomy needed to explain how and why the universe acts as it does. While learning about the universe, its origins, its evolution, its contents and its fate, you will also develop scientific reasoning skills.

Science is Not a body of Facts, but rather a process by which we try to understand the world around us. Scientific reasoning has been used to both benefit, and sometimes harm, us all. Just look at the headlines in areas such as technology invovations, global warming, anti-missile defense, the Mars rover or new medical treatments. Humans observe and experiment and attempt to make logical connections. You will learn about how some scientists developed these connections. You will get practice with scientific reasoning. Our goal is for you to be able to evaluate scientific claims and to make judgments about those making the claims.

To get the most out of this course you should ask questions:



Solar System Models
Planet Tour
Solar System Formation
Stellar Properties
Stellar Properties 2
Stellar Evolution 1
Stellar Evolution 2
Stellar Evolution 3
Milky Way
Hubble's Law
Big Bang
Review III


(from previous semesters)




You are responsible for knowing the material presented in class and the relevant material in the text. Grades will be based on performance on a final exam, three midterm exams, in-class activities, and homework (including ANGEL pre-class assignments and Astronomy Place tutorials). Exams will test both memorization and the ability to deduce results by applying basic physical principles to astronomical phenomena. The exams will consist of a mixture of multiple choice, short answer and essay length questions. The lowest exam score (of the three mid-term and final exams) will be dropped. If you are satisfied with your grade at the end of classes you do not need to take the final exam, which will be comprehensive. The three highest exams each count for 25% of the grade, and the quizzes, in-class activities and homework together count for 25% of the grade. No opportunities for individual extra credit will be offered.

Exams: Best three of 3 mid-terms + Final 75%
Quizzes 25%
Astronomy Place Tutorials
ANGEL Assignments (Quizzes)
In-Class Activities

Grading Scale
  AVERAGE (%)     GRADE  
85-100 4.0
75-84 3.5
70-74 3.0
65-69 2.5
60-64 2.0
55-59 1.5
50-54 1.0
< 50 0.0

EASY POINTS: In-class activities, Astronomy Place tutorials, pre-class ANGEL questions. These are points you get for being in class and doing the assignments. The Astronomy Place tutorials can be repeated until you get them correct and then you can submit your answers.

Exam Schedule:

      First Midterm Exam     Wednesday,   February 11,    in class
      Second Midterm Exam    Wednesday,   March 24,       in class
      Third Midterm Exam     Wednesday,   April 28,       in class

      FINAL EXAM             Thursday,    May 6, 3-5 pm,  Room to be announced


 * Astronomy Place
 * Astronomy Picture of the Day
 * Mars Rover Home Page
 * Hubble Space Telescope
 * Astronomy Links from SEDS at University of Arizona
 * The Nine Planets, A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System
 * Scientific Arithmetic

Academic Integrity

The MSU academic integrity policy for students is at If a student cheats on an exam, he or she will get an automatic zero on the test and may be given a failing grade for the course. You are encouraged to collaborate on pre-class questions, homework and in-class activities. Science is a cooperative activity. Collaboration does NOT include copying. If you merely copy someone else's work, you will do very poorly on the exams, which generate most of your grade. You are required to specify who you work with in the appropriate space.

Exam policy: DO NOT bring any cell-phones or pagers to an exam. DO bring a photo-ID. You may be required to show it when turning in your exam.

This page will be continually updated as the course progresses.

This page has been accessed times.

Bob Stein's home page, email: