Astronomy 129: Astronomy I LAB

Section L5 Fall 2010


Lab Day:  Monday

Location: Rita Hollings Science Center, room 108

Time: 7:00-10:00PM (section L5)



Instructor: Dr. George Chartas

Office: 129 SCIC

Office hours: MWF 3:00-4:00 pm

Phone: (843) 953-3609



A preliminary outline of the course can be found at the SCHEDULE website. Some of this material is subject to change and this site will be constantly up-dated so please check it before each class.



Required materials:

You will need :

a)   The College of Charleston Astronomy 129 lab manual (you may purchase it from the University Book Store),


b)   A Rotating Star Chart (University Book Store), and


c)   A scientific calculator capable of computing exponential functions

Course Objectives:

One of the goals of this class in combination with the associated lecture is to reveal to you some of the wonders of our cosmos.  You will learn how the scientific method is used to explain the underlying causes behind astrophysical phenomena. The lab activities will provide a hands-on approach to better understand the material taught in the astronomy 129 lectures.

Specifically, in Astronomy 129 Lab, students will learn how to use star charts to identify stars and constellations in the sky at any date and time, use a celestial globe and a rotating star chart to understand the diurnal and yearly motions of the Earth and the celestial coordinate system, learn how to setup a telescope and how to observe objects through a telescope, learn how craters form, confirm KeplerÕs laws by analyzing real data from the orbit of a satellite, use data from the orbits of JupiterÕs major satellites to determine its mass and even plan a mission to Mars!

Astronomy 129 will also improve several general skills that will be useful for students. In particular, the lab will enhance studentÕs teamwork skills, students will learn the basics of collecting, analyzing and presenting scientific data, use simple statistics to analyze data, learn how to interpret data, improve on computer skills and learn about telescope calibration.

I recommend that you review the material before it is presented in class. This will help you to better understand the concepts and enjoy the class.


It is important that you attend every lab since there are only 13 labs per semester and each one therefore carries a significant fraction of your grade. Also missing a lab will make it difficult for you to understand and carry out upcoming labs. For example, missing the lab related to telescope setup would make it extremely difficult for you to use the telescope in following labs that require you to observe celestial objects with the telescope. In the case you do end up missing a lab because of an emergency you may take a make-up lab on Dec 6.



You will be graded for each lab. Labs reports will be completed and handed in before you leave. I will indicate which lab reports you may collaborate on and for which ones I expect you to complete individually. Collaboration is not allowed on quizzes. Your number grade will be converted into a letter grade as follows.




























Special Needs:

If you have any special needs or disabilities that might require special arrangements to be made for any aspect of this course, please let me know at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of them.

Class Policies:

Cellular technology:  Please respect your classmates and keep your cellular devices off.


Violations of the College of Charleston Honor Code (including cheating or attempted cheating) will be referred to the Office of Student Affairs for adjudication. Examples of cheating include copying quiz answers and using cellular technology to communicate information during a quiz.