Astronomy 1

Image: Artist's impression of the planets orbiting the star 79 Ceti,
117 light-years from Earth
(To learn more, click here)

NOTE: The information on this page is subject to change.

Last updated December 2, 2008

  • Professor Anthony Zee
    Office: 2321 Kohn Hall
    Telephone: 893-4213
    Home page:
    Office hours: Thursdays 4:00-4:50 p.m. and Fridays 4:00-4:50 p.m.

    A NOTE ON THE USE OF E-MAIL: When sending e-mail to your instructor, please be sure to include your full name, your perm number, and your e-mail address, and put "Astronomy 1" in the subject line of your message. This will help him to address your needs more efficiently. Failure to include "Astronomy 1" in the subject line of your message may result in its rejection by his spam filter. 


Mike Blume--- e-mail:
Office hours: Tuesdays 11:00-2:00 p.m.
Grades homework for students with last names A-K

Ishai Rubin--- e-mail:
Office hours: Wednesdays 11:00-12:30 p.m., Thursdays 9:00-9:30 a.m. and Friday 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Grades homework for students with last names L-Z

The TAs will hold their office hours in the Physics Study Room, Room 1019, Broida Hall.

The CLAS tutor for the course is Ellie Newton <>.

  • Astronomy 1 Lectures: 
    Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:00-10:50 p.m., 1610 Broida Hall
  • Astronomy 1 Discussion Sections:
    IMPORTANT: All discussion sections will meet for the first time during the first week of classes. Make sure that you attend!
    02964 Friday 9:00 - 9:50 a.m., ARTS 1426 --- TA: Ishai Rubin
    02972 Wednesday 1:00 - 1:50 p.m., ARTS 1426 --- TA: Ishai Rubin
    02980 Wednesday 5:00 - 5:50 p.m., GIRV 2128 --- TA: Mike Blume
    02998 Wednesday 4:00 - 4:50 p.m., PHELP3505 --- TA: Mike Blume
    03004 Wednesday 6:00 - 6:50 p.m., PHELP3505 --- TA: Mike Blume
    03012 Monday 4:00 - 4:50 p.m., PHELP1425 --- TA: Ishai Rubin

An honors section will NOT be offered with this course in Fall quarter 2008. 



Your textbook. 

The required textbook for this course is R. A. Freedman and W. J. Kaufmann, UNIVERSE, 8th edition. All of your reading assignments will be from this book, and you will be assigned homework questions based on these readings.

You may wish to purchase and use the online eBook version of the book. Access to the eBook retails for less than half of the cost of a new copy of the printed book and even less than the cost of a used printed book. In addition to having all the content of the printed version, the eBook also includes animations, web links, and interactive quizzes you can use to test your understanding. You can read the eBook on any computer with web access.

If you are using a printed copy of the book rather than the eBook, you will need to use the textbook companion web site (

universe8e/). This includes study aids such as interactive quizzes, videos, animations, and links to the latest astronomy news on the World Wide Web. (These same features are integrated into the eBook.)

Whether you're using the eBook or a printed copy of the book, you must register on the textbook companion web site. For instructions on how to register, click here. (If you are using the printed version of the book, registering will allow you to use all of the features of the companion web site. If you are using the eBook, you won't need to visit the companion web site again, since all of its features are integrated into the eBook.)



By an overwhelming margin, the class voted not to use the i>clicker system. You do not have to purchase an i>clicker for this course.


  • Daily reading assignments for the course can be found at the Astronomy 1 syllabus web page (click here to visit this page). 

    IMPORTANT: In order to get the most out of the lectures, you must read each assignment BEFORE the lecture. 


A written homework assignment will be assigned each week, to be due the following Friday at 3:30 p.m. 

The written homework is worth 20% of of the total points toward your course grade. 

Each assignment can be found on the Astronomy 1 homework web page (click here to visit this page). Assignments are to be handed in to designated boxes at the rear of the lecture hall, 1610 Broida Hall.


Late problem sets cannot be accepted. 

You are encouraged to work with your friends on the problem sets, but you must hand in your own assignment in your own words. If you can't do the homework problems by yourself, then you won't be able to do the exams! The method you use to get the answer is as important as the answer itself. 

If you have questions about the grading of your homework assignment, please refer them directly to the TA who grades your homework, NOT to the instructor. The most efficient way to do this is by e-mail. 

There will not be any online assignment in this course. All assignments will be written.


There will be two midterm exams, given in lecture onOctober 24 , 2008 and November 19 , 2008. Each midterm exam is worth 20% of the total points toward your course grade. For what the midterms will cover, see the syllabus page.

The final exam will be given on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 8:00-11:00 a.m.
in Broida 1610 (the lecture room)The final exam is worth 40% of the total points toward your course grade.

Calculators are permitted on the midterm exams and final exam, but cell phones are NOT allowed. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: It sometimes happens that a student is unable to take an exam due to illness or a family emergency. If this should happen to you, you must contact the course instructor, A. Zee, at the earliest opportunity by e-mail, phone, or in person. Do not contact the TAs or homework graders, since they will only tell you to contact the instructor. The excuse must be submitted and approved before the exam. No excuse will be approved after the exam.


Solutions to the homework set and to the midterm tests, scores on the midterm tests, the practice final exam etc are all posted on this web page set up by the TAs:

  • There are two ways in which you can get extra credit equal to 2% of the possible points for the course.
    Extra credit method #1: Attend a planetarium show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, located at 2559 Puesta Del Sol Road in Santa Barbara.

    Planetarium programs are offered Saturdays and Sundays in the Museum's Gladwin Planetarium. Each program lasts approximately 35 minutes. You can confirm the times of planetarium shows by calling 682-4711 or by visiting

    When you arrive at the Museum, check in at the entrance for a special reduced admission charge. You'll need to keep your receipt to serve as proof of your participation in a planetarium show. 

    For driving directions to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, click here. For a map, click here

    You can also get to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History via bus using the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD).

    Extra credit method #2: Attend a "star party" offered by The Astronomical Unit, an organization of avid amateur astronomers. These are held once a month at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. "Star parties" are also held the third Friday of each month at Westmont College's Carroll Observatory.

    You should contact these organizations to find out the current schedule. 

    If you attend a "star party," be sure to ask for a handout or signature to serve as proof of participation. 

    See above for directions to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. For driving directions to Westmont College, click here. For a campus map showing the location of the George Carroll Observatory, click here.


    How to receive extra credit: After attending one of these events, write a one page description of your experience, including a description of what you learned. Include your name and perm number andattach your proof of participation to your writeup and give it directly to your professor.

    The deadline for handing in an extra credit writeup is 4:00 p.m. on December 2, 2008 (a week before the final exam).

    By popular demand, the deadline has been extended to 11 AM, Tuesday December 9.

    You can only receive extra credit for one event.



Your course grade will be determined as follows: written homework assignments, 20%; first midterm exam, 20%; second midterm exam, 20%; final exam, 40%. 

THIS COURSE IS NOT GRADED ON THE CURVE. Your grade in Astronomy 1 will depend on what percentage of the total possible points you receive (from written homework, discussion section participation, and in-class exams, plus any extra credit), using the following scheme:


Percentage of
possible points
needed for this grade






















zero to 40%



Professor Anthony Zee is available to answer your questions about any aspect of Astronomy 1 during his office hours, or at other times by appointment. Please come by!

Physics Study Room (PSR): Located in Room 1019, Broida Hall, the PSR is where all physics TAs hold their office hours. The PSR is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and TAs are on duty at most times. Note that all the TAs you'll find in the PSR are able to provide assistance with Astronomy 1, not just the TA assigned to the course. This is a unique and extremely helpful component of our Physics Department. Make full use of it! 

Campus Learning Center (CLAS): CLAS provides tutorial assistance for all courses, including special tutorial sections for Astronomy 1. CLAS is located in the Student Services Complex area (telephone 893-3269). For more information, click here to visit the CLAS web site, and click here to see a map that shows where CLAS is located.

Ellie Newton is the Astro 1 tutor for CLAS this year. There will be two sections, one MW 9-9:50 and a second MW 12-12:50. Students can sign up in the SRB or on-line; sign-ups are first come, first serve. Additionally on Monday and Wednesday from 11-12 Ellie holds drop-in tutoring.

Stressed Out? This can help: Stress is a natural part of student life. Santa Barbara physician Jay Winner, MD has created an effective program for dealing with stress of all kinds. For details, click here.


Academic dishonesty is not acceptable in Astronomy 1 or any other course at UCSB. If you copy another student's homework assignment or exam, both you and the student from whom you copied will receive a grade of zero for that assignment or exam. In addition, a Faculty Report Form for Academic Misconduct will be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students, and your case will be referred to the Student-Faculty Committee on Student Conduct. It is not uncommon for a first-time offender to be suspended from the University for one quarter for committing one act of cheating. A second offense commonly leads to permanent suspension from the University.

This is not an idle threat, but a description of what has happened on previous occasions when cheating occurred. Remember that cheating hurts everybody, and you should not hesitate to inform your instructor or teaching assistant if you witness an act of cheating.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.


In this course you will be required to use a computer and the World Wide Web on a regular basis. If you do not have your own computer with Web access, you may use the computers at Instructional Computing (IC) in Phelps Hall ( or the computers

Instructional Computing offers free workshops on how to use e-mail and the World Wide Web. For more information and a detailed schedule of these workshops, click here or call Instructional Computing at 893-3002.

You may also use the computers in the Physics Study Room, Room 1019, Broida Hall, during the hours it is open (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).