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Flagstaff High School
This class is designed to provide a non-technical
overview of basic astronomy topics. The emphasis is
on exploration and creativity. The course includes
nighttime sky viewing, computer simulations,
telescope use, and a field trip to Lowell Observatory.
The math used is on a level with algebra I.
The topics addressed are: the size and scale of our
solar system, galaxy, and universe; our Sun and our
Moon; the constellations in our sky; both ancient and
modern astronomers; how stars burn fuel; the
methods scientists use to study distant stars; the birth,
life, and death of stars; the planets within our own
solar system; space exploration missions and the
search for extraterrestrial life.
Textbook: “Foundations of Astronomy,” 9th edition, by Michael Seeds, 2007
Materials: Calculator (scientific capability)
Teacher Contact: [email protected]
(3 college-level lab science credits; enrollment occurs in the Spring; the cost is $75.00)
Grade Components
1. Project assignments. Most classroom activities will center around a drawing, picture,
sketch, timeline, or poster; the type of project is determined by the topic. The projects are
done in class, and vary in point value depending on the complexity of the assignment.
10 to 50 pt per assignment
2. Activities and Labs: Activities that are somewhat more technical than project
assignments are also done once or twice per week. This would include mathematical
computations and/or computer simulations.
10 to 20 pt per activity
3. Quizzes: After each chapter there will be a quiz or test, depending on the amount of
50 - 100 pt per quiz/test
4. Nighttime Observations. Astronomy is an outdoor topic; the observation of the night sky
is a key part of the class. We will meet as a class in the evening once during the year; there
will be written questions for you to answer as part of the observations. Attendance is
50 points
5. Final Exam: There is an exam for each semester; the second semester’s exam does not
include the first semester. A big review packet is included before each exam. The format of
the exam consists of multiple choice and problems. It counts for 15% of your grade.
200 pt
Course Topics, by Chapter:
Chapter 1: The Scale of the Cosmos. Relative distances, basic units of measure
Chapter 2: The Sky. Overview of observation terms, such as azimuth, zenith,
perihelion, and causes of the seasons.
Chapter 3: Cycles of the Moon. Path that the moon takes, phases, eclipses.
Chapter 4: The Origin of Modern Astronomy. Historical perspective, early
ancient astronomers such as Copernicus.
Chapter 5: Newton, Einstein, and Gravity. More recent astronomers’
Chapter 6: Light and Telescopes. The fundamental nature of light (speed,
measurements of), overview of telescope types and functions.
Chapter 8: The Sun. Structure and function of our own star, the Sun.
Supplemental Chapter: Our Solar System Planets. Special Project: Mars
End of 1st Semester
Chapter 7: Starlight and Atoms. Stellar spectra, Doppler effect.
Chapter 9: The Family of Stars. Measuring mass, brightness, distance of stars; HR diagram
Chapter 11-13: The birth, life, and death of stars.
Chapter 15: The Milky Way Galaxy. Description of our own galaxy.
Chapter 16: Galaxies. Categorizing the types and nature of the different
Chapter 25: Meteorites, Asteroids, and Comets. Definitions of each, and
impact effects on Earth.
Chapter 26: Life on Other Worlds. The nature of life and how it originates;
possible communication strategies.
End of 2nd Semester
Classroom Policies
1. Be in your seat and ready to work when the bell rings or you will be marked tardy; this is
FHS policy.
2. Small food snacks (in a baggie) are allowed in the lecture area; water in a closed-top
container is also allowed. Nothing else is allowed.
3. Cell phones and all other electronic devices are to be turned off in class. If an emergency
comes up and you must use your phone, tell your teacher; it is okay to use the stockroom for
emergency phone calls. All other use is forbidden during class time and subject to
immediate referral to RTC.
4. The hall pass is suspended on a lanyard near the door. If it is there, you can take it to use
the restroom or go to your locker. This should take 1-3 minutes. Do not take it for longer
than 3 minutes; people are probably waiting and wondering where it is.
5. Remain seated during the final minutes of the period.
6. Please see the 'Academic Integrity Statement' for expected academic behaviors.
7. Choosing to ignore the policies will result in
 A verbal reminder.
 A referral to the Responsible Thinking Classroom.