ASTR 405 — Planetary Systems
Syllabus for Spring 2018
134 Astronomy Building — MWF 11:00-11:50
||Prof. Tony Wong
||Mr. Ricky Chue
||wongt @ illinois.edu
||chue2 @ illinois.edu
||Tue 2-3 or by appt
||Wed 10-11 or by appt
Credit: 3 credit hours.
Prerequisites: Credit in PHYS 212 (University Physics: E&M). Credit or concurrent registration in ASTR 210 (Introduction to Astrophysics) and PHYS 213 (Thermal Physics) is strongly recommended. Some prior knowledge of astronomy is assumed.
Course Web Page: Located on https://learn.illinois.edu/
(College of LAS Moodle)
Astronomy 405 is an in-depth survey of the Solar System and exoplanets from
an astronomical perspective. We will also cover our current understanding of
star and planet formation. Topics include: solar system dynamics; planetary
atmospheres, surfaces, and interiors; rings, moons, and interplanetary debris;
detection and characterization of extrasolar planets; star and planet formation;
searches for life in the solar system and beyond. ASTR 405 is intended for
advanced undergraduates with an interest in astronomy and a strong background in
physics; it is also suitable for beginning graduate students. The course is
highly quantitative, and is intended to provide a flavor of where the current
research frontiers in these subjects lie. Upon completion of this course,
students should be ready to undertake graduate-level research and coursework in
Recommended Texts (on reserve at Grainger Library):
- Fundamental Planetary Science: Physics, Chemistry and Habitability by J. J. Lissauer & I. de Pater (2013).
Publisher: Cambridge U. Press. ISBN: 978-0-521-61855-7.
This new textbook covers planetary science at an advanced undergraduate level. An e-book version is also available from the website above. Free access to the e-book is available through the University Library at this URL.
- An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, 2nd Edition by B. W. Carroll & D. A. Ostlie (2007).
Publisher: Cambridge U. Press. ISBN: 978-1-108-42216-1.
This huge text provides a broad survey of astrophysics, although with relatively little emphasis on topics covered in this course. Still, it is an important reference book for all of the 400-level astronomy courses.
|Homeworks (best 10 of 11)
||400 (40 pts each)
|Clicker Score (best 33)
|Midterm Hour Exams (2)
There will be at least 39 lectures for which clicker points will be recorded
(starting at Lecture 2), and you must attend 33 of these to get full clicker
points (unless otherwise announced). No makeups will be allowed for missed
classes for any reason except for fully documented, prolonged illness. Each
lecture has 3 course points allocated: 2 course points for responding to at
least 75% of the questions and an additional 1 point for providing a correct
response to at least one of the questions. The total clicker score will then be
added to 1 to give a score out of 100.
The course point total will be converted to a percentage, with A's
corresponding to 90-100%, B's corresponding to 80-89%, C's corresponding to
70-79%, and D's corresponding to 60-69%. Pluses and minuses will be used.
Regular assignments are an important part of the course, helping to
reinforce concepts covered in the lectures and textbook.
- Homework assignments (accessed through the course web page). These
will consist of about 4-5 problems each, and must be uploaded to the course
website before the submission deadline on Wednesday. Handwritten solutions are
acceptable, but should be legible after scanning for online submission.
Occasionally exercises will need to be completed on a computer. Credit will
only be given to well-explained answers, and all important steps in a
calculation must be shown. If you are unsure of whether your assignment was
properly submitted, please contact the TA.
- Late assignments. Assignments are due by 10 P.M. on Wednesdays. We typically allow a grace period of 15 minutes after the deadline. Assignments received after the deadline but by 5 P.M. on Friday will attract a fixed, 10 point penalty. For special circumstances the penalty may be waived at the instructor's discretion. After 5 P.M. Friday, further submissions are disabled and will NOT be accepted by any other means.
Rules of Etiquette
For the benefit of your fellow students and your instructor, you are
expected to follow these basic rules of decorum.
- Show up for class on time. If you must be late on a regular
basis, please inform the instructor.
- Silence your cell phone before class begins.
- Computing devices can only be used in class under special circumstances or with the instructor's permission. These can be a distraction to other students.
- Do not leave class early, and do not rustle papers or pack up bags in
preparation for leaving before class time is up.
- Be attentive in class. Do not use headphones, read newspapers,
or prop your feet up on other chairs or desks.
- Be respectful in your interactions with your fellow students and
your teachers, whether in person or in cyberspace.
- General: This course will follow all policies in the Student
- Class Participation: Regular attendance is important, and there will
be frequent i-clicker questions and in-class exercises to test your knowledge
and prepare for upcoming homeworks. If you miss too many classes your grade
will begin to suffer. You are also encouraged to volunteer or ask questions in
class and come to office hours; this is a good way to develop familiarity with
- Working With Others: Discussing course material with your classmates
is encouraged, but each student is expected to do his or her own work. You are
allowed to work together on homework problems, but each student should write up
an individual description of the solution. Computer code can be copied or
adapted from class examples or online sources only with proper attribution.
For the group presentation, it is important that each student prepare and
present a distinct part of the presentation. If you are in any doubt about
whether something is allowed or not, ask the instructor or TA.
- Make-up exams will be offered in well-justified circumstances, in
accordance with sections 1-501, 1-502, and 3-201 of the Student Code.
Advance notice is required for approved school events (e.g., athletic
events), religious observances, and other planned absences. Sudden illness
requires documentation from McKinley Health Center or the Emergency Dean. The
Emergency Dean must be contacted in other cases of unforeseen circumstances
(e.g., death in the family). The format of the make-up may differ from the
standard exam. In all cases, the make-up will be scheduled after the
- Special accommodations: To insure that concerns are properly
addressed from the beginning, students who require reasonable
accommodations to participate in this class are asked to see the instructor
as soon as possible. All accomodations will follow the procedures as
stated in sections 1-107 and 1-110 of the Student Code.
- Academic Integrity: Any instance of academic dishonesty
(including cheating and plagiarism) will result in a grade of 0 for that
component and be documented in the student's academic file. This includes
copying written material from the Internet without proper attribution.
Please refer to sections 1-401 to 1-406 of the Student Code.
This page last updated 15 Jan 2018