Spring ‘17

Course Description:     Observational Astronomy (1 unit), Laboratory Course - General principles and the fundamental facts of observational astronomy. Designed primarily for students not majoring in a physical science or mathematics.

                                       This course will satisfy the Sierra College lab sciences requirement.

Professors:                    Dave Kenyon

Course Codes:              40312, 44408   (Kenyon)

Offices:                          Room S204 (Kenyon) in Sewell Hall on the Rocklin Campus

Telephone:                    Kenyon: Work: 916-660-7911 or if on campus x7911

E-mail Address:   (Kenyon)

Office Hours:                Daily via online communications. If you wish to meet in person, call the professor’s campus phone or send him an email to arrange a time.


It is the responsibility of the student (not the Professor) to add or drop a class. The Professor may drop a student for lack of participation.

Also, if you think you may have to withdraw or drop this class, be sure to understand that there are two deadlines for which you must be aware. One deadline allows you to drop the class, receive a refund, and avoid a “W”. A second, later deadline allows you to withdraw with no refund and receive a “W” on your transcripts. For this particular online course, these dates are as follows:

      03/Feb/2017      Last day to add and last day to drop

      06/April/2017   Last day to withdraw and get a “W”

      18/May/2017    Last day of Finals

Textbook and Materials (Order online or buy NOW at on or off campus stores):


      Required Text:                  TheSky-X Workbook and CD, by Thomas Jordan and Scott Peters

                                                (ISBN-13: 978-11-11-988-326)


        Required CD/Software:              TheSky-X - Student Edition (included with the above book)


      Required Text:                  Nightwatch - A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe, by Terence Dickenson, Fourth Edition (ISBN 1-55407-147-X)


Minimum System Requirements for TheSky - Student Edition:

NOTE: This is a Windows ONLY course: Windows XP/Windows 7-10 (32/64 bit system)

A monitor displaying 256 colors or more; CD-ROM drive; 16 MB RAM; 50 MB hard disk space (15 MB minimum). If you have Windows 64 bit system, the software must be installed in “Compatibility Mode”. You will need to get technical help if you do not understand this.

Astronomy Department and Canvas Web Sites

The Astronomy Department maintains a web site with a variety of features at the web address: Be sure not to confuse the materials found on the Astronomy 11 web page with the online version of the course; the material on our web site is for on-campus students. We appreciate any comments or suggestions for improvement.

All Sierra College students automatically receive accounts in the online Canvas environment (see for details) and obviously Astronomy 11 Online is being offered through this environment. Daily “attendance” in the Astronomy 11 Online Canvas site is crucial to a student’s success. Of particular importance are the Announcements, Discussions, and Assignments pages.

General Instructor Expectations of Students: We expect each student to give his or her best effort in participating in class activities and accomplishing assigned tasks. We expect students to adhere to their behavior responsibilities as detailed in the Sierra College Student Handbook. Cheating, plagiarism, or any other forms of dishonesty are considered grounds for an immediate course grade of F (with a permanent designation of “academic dishonesty”) and possible dismissal from Sierra College. Finally, students are expected to adhere to the Policies and Procedures given at the end of this syllabus.

Student Expectations of Professors: You can expect our best effort in teaching the principles of astronomy. We hope to impart in our students a sense of excitement in observing and studying nature’s show in the cosmos. We are very open to suggestions for topics that students wish to discuss or improvements in the course content and/or presentation. If you are experiencing severe difficulty with a particular Professor, bring your concerns to the attention of the Astronomy Department Chair or the Science and Mathematics Division Dean.

Grading and Attendance

1.   The final grade in this class is based on total "assigned" points (400):

                  A = 90% or more of total points assigned (= 360)

                  B = 80% or more, but less than 90%, of total points assigned (= 320)

                  C = 70% or more, but less than 80%, of total points assigned (= 280)

                  D = 60% or more, but less than 70%, of total points assigned (= 240)

2.   There are 13 assigned Laboratory Assignments each of which is worth a maximum of 20 points. The activities in these assignments are based on your use of the required course materials and are clearly explained in each assignment found in the Assignments section of the Canvas environment. See the General Schedule of Activities for the exact due dates and times of these assignments.

3.   There are two exams each of which is worth a maximum of 60 and 80 points each. The Midterm Exam is based on the first six or seven Laboratory Assignments, whereas the Final Exam is based on all the Laboratory Assignments. These exams are taken online; there are no requirements for coming on-campus for these exams.

4.   Extra Credit may be offered by the instructor. Read the Announcements and Discussions page to see when these opportunities become available. It is usually ONLY offered if bad weather prevents the use of the Robotic Observatory.

5.   A student may be dropped from class for excessive “absences”. See the Sierra College catalog for the definition of excessive absences. For an online course, “absence” in general means a lack of a periodic appearance in the Astronomy 11 Online Canvas environment and the lack of the regular submission of assignments.

Policies and Procedures – Brief Version


1.   The “First Tasks” assignment must be completed to the Professor’s satisfaction before any other assignment/exam can be submitted for credit.

2.   Exams cannot be made up. If a problem exists, notify your Professor before the exam date. However, even with prior notification, an instructor is not obliged to extend any exam deadline.

3.   Late Laboratory Assignments are not accepted under any conditions. These exercises are due by 11:59 pm on the days indicated in the General Schedule of Activities.

4.   Students are expected to check the grading accuracy of their Laboratory Assignments, Exams, and Extra Credit. Answer keys for the assignments/exams will be posted in Assignments section sometime after their respective due dates. Students are also expected to check their posted grades for accuracy (the Gradebook is in Course Documents). Students are given one week after a given deadline to bring any errors to the attention of their instructor. Under no circumstances will grade accuracy be discussed after the final grade-reporting deadline established by the Sierra College Admissions and Records office. This deadline is usually set the week after the last day of class.

5.   The Astronomy Department Professors believe it is important for students to maintain basic communication and organization skills in a science class. Consequently, students may be penalized 1 point for each infraction on the assignment/exam for not displaying these skills. Examples are: 1) Not adhering to the assignment submission rules given in the “Grading Policies and Procedures” document found in Course Documents; and 2) Gross misspelling of any common word (gross misspelling is defined as more than two letters in a given word are incorrect).

6.   Students are expected to understand completely the document “Astronomy 11 Online – Grading Policies and Procedures” found in the Course Documents section of the Astronomy 11 Online Canvas environment.

7. Students are expected to observe the night sky a few times a week during the course and submit detailed observing reports as directed in each Assignment.

8.   Examples of behavior subject to a grade F with academic dishonesty:

·         The use of answer keys from previous semesters.

·         Giving answers to another student without any attempt by this student to participate in the exchange of ideas leading to the answer.

·         Submitting other students answer sheets, scanned pages or images.



Thank you for electing to take Astronomy 11 Online. We hope you will enhance your knowledge and appreciation of astronomy and enjoy the subject as much as we do.


The Sierra College Astronomy Department Staff