Astronomy 129L06




NOTE:  Modifications to the syllabus and current assignments will be posted  on  my web page: Check it frequently.

Instructor:                         Robert J. Dukes, Jr.

B. S.                      University of Arizona (Astronomy)

M.S.                       University of Texas, El Paso (Physics)

Ph.D.                     University of Arizona (Astronomy)

Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society (London), Member, American Astronomical Society, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, American Association of Physics Teachers.  Principal Astronomer for the Four College Consortium (This means that IÕm responsible for the operation of the CollegeÕs computer controlled telescope located in southern Arizona). Member Kepler Asteroseismological Consortium

Personal:  Married with two children - both boys

Teaching Assistant:         Jesica Trucks

Office:                               Science Center 122

Office Hours:                    Office Hours (tentative):        M – W 3:00-3:50



Phone:                              953-8073 (Office)

                                         953-5593 (Secretary)

                                         577-0479 (Home - before 10 p.m. please)

                                         906-5786 (Cell Phone)


World wide web      

I encourage you to contact me outside of class. Please feel free to come by at anytime.  If you want to guarantee IÕll be here you may make an appointment but you donÕt have to. You can call me on my cell phone or email me with any questions.


Text:  Universe (9th Edition) by Roger A. Freedman and William J. Kaufmann III

             Astronomy 129/130 Lab Manual (Available at SASE-Ink; on south side of Calhoun between Pitt and Smith – Next to NormÕs).

             Celestron Telescope Operating Manual  (available at the CofC Observatory site. (


Text Website:

Catalog Description:

           An introduction to astronomy. ASTR129L is a corequisite or prerequisite for ASTR129.  A working knowledge of high school algebra is assumed.


Course Goals and Themes:  In accordance with this philosophy, I have adopted the following four goals and eight themes for the course.


1.          To be able to explain the common phenomena of the sky visible to the naked eye observer.

2.          To develop an appreciation for the interactions between astronomy and astronomical phenomena and life on our planet Earth.

3.          To be able to comprehend the significance of the development of modern astronomy.

4.          To emulate the process of scientific reasoning involved in the gathering and analyzing of data and arriving at justifiable, defensible conclusions.


1.          The universe is dynamic and continually evolving.

2.          The universality of physical laws discovered on Earth allows us to analyze and draw conclusions about celestial phenomena that can be studied only at great distances.

3.          Scientific conclusions must be based on an exacting comparison of hypotheses to evidence obtained from observations and experimental data.

4.          The universe, because it has objects and environments that cannot be duplicated on Earth is a unique laboratory for testing scientific hypotheses.

5.          Because astronomy is a human endeavor, it is subject to both the limitations and the enhancements of personal relationships, biases, inspiration, and creativity.

6.          Most astronomical knowledge accumulates incrementally, with each new piece of knowledge providing a potential foundation for further understanding.

7.          Observational and computational technologies play critical roles in shaping our understanding of the universe.

8.          In addition to scientific value, astronomy has practical and philosophical value because humans are participants in, as well as observers of, the universe.



Most of your lab work will be done in groups of two or three.  Under no circumstances will groups larger than three be allowed.  You may form your own groups initially but I reserve the right to adjust groups at any time.  There will often be multiple activities both indoor and outdoor in one evening.  These should not be treated as a race to see who can finish and leave first since we will generally all leave at the same time.  There will be periods in lab when the group that finishes first will have to wait for the others before the entire lab can begin a new activity together.  Knowing this fact and planning ahead (by bringing some work to study) will make the situation easier for all concerned.  A course meeting at night can encounter conflicts with other activities.  This situation is unfortunate but if you have numerous late afternoon or evening activities that will prevent attending lab you should consider another course.  An impending test is no excuse for not attending lab or for requesting a ÒquickieÓ exercise.



Students are expected to attend all labs.  It is impossible to make up a lab that is done in your absence.  The only students who have made  D's or F's in lab in more than a decade, did so due  to excessive absences..  Because of different schedules and limited seating and equipment it will not be possible for students to switch lab days on a temporary basis.  If you are seriously ill turn in a medical excuse to the Office of the Associate Dean of Students (  A student with much more than 3 absences will be given a grade of WA (which is computed as an F in the G.P.R.) unless very unusual circumstances exist.  If something you feel falls into this category happens to you (hospitalization for an extended period, family emergency, auto wrecks, etc.) please notify as soon as possible.


Grades will be based on three components:

1.       Work done during the lab.  This will generally consist of sheets from your lab manual to be filled in.

2.       A written quiz on the lab given at the end of the evening.


Approximate Grading Scale: