2. A. Course Title: Astronomy
    B. Course Number: PH 114A - 30285
    C. Semester: Fall 2019
    D. Days/Time: W 6:00:00 PM - 7:59:00 PM
    E. Credit Hours: 4
    F. Instructor: Keranen, Joel
    G. Office: Heidel Hall (HH) 232
    H. Email Address:
    I. Office Phone: (575) 492-2820
    J. Office Hours: Monday: 3:00:00 PM-5:30:00 PM (MST);
    Tuesday: 9:15:00 AM-11:45:00 AM (MST);
    Wednesday: 9:15:00 AM-11:45:00 AM (MST);
    Thursday: 9:15:00 AM-11:45:00 AM (MST);
    Other office hours by appointment. I answer email and Canvas messages within 24 hours on weekdays.
    K. Time Zone: Mountain Time
    L. Prerequisite(s):
    M. Corequisite(s): PH 114AL
    N. Class Location: HH127

    The observations, theories, and methods of astronomy in relation to the major areas of astronomy (Planetary, Solar, Stellar, and Galactic) will be covered in this course. This is a course intended for non-science majors. Concurrent enrollment in PH 114AL (laboratory) is required. This is a four credit hour course.


    This course fulfills the requirement for a laboratory science. This is a general education course with wide transferability.



    Textbook: Discovering the Essential Universe, Neil F.Comins, Sixth ed. 2015 Publisher: Freeman ISBN: 978-1464181702

    Laboratory Manual: All self contained online in the Canvas course modules and in-class handouts. No lab text required.

    Classroom and Laboratory Equipment:
    "The Night Sky" For Use in the Range 30 - 40 Degrees by David Chandler 1977


    "Astronomy" Magazine; current news stand edition.

    Laboratory Equipment: Inexpensive Binoculars

    You can buy your books online at the NMJC Bookstore.


    Students attending New Mexico Junior College will be evaluated according to the following grading scale:


    90 - 100% = A

    80 - 89% = B

    70 - 79% = C

    60 - 69% = D

    0 - 59% = F


    Grading Weights:

    Attendance 4%

    Homework, Constellation Project, Discussions, and Quizzes 20% (Homework = 8%; Constellation Project = 4%; Discussions = 4%; and Quizzes = 4%)
    Four Exams @9% ea = 36%

    Laboratory 20%
    Final Exam 20%
    Total Possible 100%

    Attendance: A grade is awarded for attendance in this class. Roll will be taken through a sign in sheet; if you fail to sign in you are considered absent. You will be given a 1 for attendance each day. If you are tardy (5-15 min) or leave early the grade will drop to a ˝ and if you do not show up you will receive a grade of 0 for that day. (IF YOU ARE LATE FOR A Legitimate REASON, YOU NEED TO SHOW THE INSTRUCTOR A DOCUMENTED EXCUSE!) School sponsored activities, illness, and emergencies will not count against attendance if proper notification from Professor/ Coach/ Doctor/ Parent/ Etc. is given. All unexcused absences will cost you points. Students who have zero (unexcused) absences will be allowed to drop their lowest exam score and replace it with their highest exam score!

    Assignments will consist of questions assigned from the textbook. The questions will be graded for correctness and completeness.

    Constellation Project:  You will create a map of the constellations.  Instructions will be provided.  Due date:  Wed., November 29, 2017.

    Discussions: Discussions will be required for course material as assigned.   Most of the discussions will take place in the Canvas shell.  Instructions for the discussions will provided in the discussion assignments. 

    Quizzes may be given at any time. Always be prepared for a pop quiz. Take-home quizzes will also be given. Quizzes will be part of the homework grade.


    Examinations: All exams (except the Final) will be given in the testing center in the Student Center. Tests will be given over a 5 day period (including weekends). The dates will be announced in class. Make-up exams will be given only for excused absences with notice.
    * On test days the students will be allowed to use lecture notes on the exam!

    Make-up Work:
    Make-up work will only be accepted if the student presents an acceptable excuse to the instructor. If late work is accepted, you will hand-in all of the late problem sets. After missing any class, you are responsible for getting the new assignments and completing the work before the next class meeting. All tests will be announced at least two class sessions before they are given.

    Lab Policies:
    Laboratory attendance is required. You should bring a straight edge and a scientific calculator to lab.  Laboratory assignments for the experiments will be given each week.  The assignments will be due at the next lab with the data sheets, analysis, and any pertinent questions answered.  The majority of the lab assignments will come out of the laboratory manual.  All other lab assignments will be provided to the student.    

    It is recommended that you keep your homework, journals, and quizzes organized in a three-ring binder and have them with you each class session, so that you are prepared to ask questions about the homework, and for use in exam preparation.

    Final Exam: The Final Examination will be a comprehensive exam with a greater emphasis on the untested material. Typically, the PH114A final has 40% of the content as already tested material, and 60% of the content is untested material.
    * You will be allowed to use your lecture notes on the Final Exam.




    New Mexico Junior College’s institutional student learning outcomes represent the knowledge and abilities developed by students attending New Mexico Junior College. Upon completion students should achieve the following learning outcomes along with specific curriculum outcomes for respective areas of study:


    New Mexico Junior College's broad range of science courses provides students with an opportunity to achieve their academic goals by fostering higher order thinking skills, basic academic success skills, discipline-specific knowledge and skills, and scientific and academic values.
    The course content of astronomy PH 114A supports NMJC’s mission which is “promoting success through learning” by encouraging students to accomplish the following:
    1. Describe the process of scientific inquiry.
    2. Solve problems scientifically.
    3. Communicate scientific information.
    4. Apply quantitative analysis to scientific problems.
    5. Apply scientific thinking to real world problems.


    By the end of this course students should be able to:
    1. Discuss the history of astronomy.
    2. Describe the motions of the sun, moon, and planets in the solar system.
    3. Describe how a telescope works and how it can be used to gather information about the universe.
    4. Discuss the nature of stars and their life cycles.
    5. Discuss the classifications of stars.
    6. Describe the structure and make up of galaxies.
    7. Discuss the possible origins and structure of the universe.
    8. Describe the structure of the solar sytem and describe the
    planets and other objects making it up.
    9. Learn to identify numerous stars and constellations by sight.

  10. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Assistance: If you are having problems you are encouraged to come see me during my office hours, and there are tutors available, free of charge, in the Library. Contact them at 575.492.2614 for the free tutoring. You can get additional help for free online with Brainfuse at See the handout for more details. Also feel free to call me for help or see me for other methods of assistance. It is very important for you to seek help if you are having trouble. Conduct: 1) Cheating will not be tolerated. 2) All students in this classroom are adults and will act as such. Disruptions in the class will not be tolerated. First Offense: student will be given a verbal warning. Second Offense: student will be asked to leave the room and lose attendance point for that day. Third Offense: a conference with the Dean will be necessary before the student may return to class. 3) Cell phones and pagers will be turned off while you are in the classroom.

    PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION:  Please use appropriate, professional language, grammar and structure in your emails, homework, discussion postings, and any other coursework.  I will do the same.  Do not send an email that looks and reads as though it were composed as a text message.




    hi mister can you extend the due date for the chap 14 hw for me plsigot behind bc i dont get this stuf thx


    Dear Professor Keranen,

    Would you please allow me until Friday to complete my Chapter 14 homework?  I am not understanding some of the concepts for this chapter.  Are you available at noon tomorrow so I can get help with it?


    Student who plans to make an A




    NMJC Communication Standard:

    ü  No text language (For example do not use i, BTW, LOL, IDK…)

    ü  Correct spelling and proper capitalization

    ü  Complete sentences (Start a sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period.)

    ü  Logical organization



    The last day to drop is before 5 pm, November 20, 2018. Failure to withdraw yourself from a course by this date may result in your receiving an "F" in the course.

    Students will be held responsible for the information on these pages.

    Academic Honesty
    Each student is expected to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in online academic and professional matters. The College reserves the right to take disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, against any student who is found guilty of academic dishonesty or otherwise fails to meet these standards. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, dishonesty in quizzes, tests, or assignments; claiming credit for work not done or done by others; and nondisclosure or misrepresentation in filling out applications or other College records. Cheating or gaining illegal information for any type of graded work is considered dishonest and will be dealt with accordingly.

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information
    Any student requiring special accommodations should contact the Special Needs Student Services Coordinator at (575) 492-2576 or by e-mail at

    Attendance Policy
    Attendance is required at every session of each course for which the student is enrolled. When unavoidable circumstances make attendance impossible, students must provide a satisfactory explanation of their absences to their professors. College-sponsored activities are considered excused absences and the appropriate sponsor of those students who will be absent from class will notify professors. Students having absences due to college-sponsored activities will need to make arrangements with the affected classes / professor to take care of required work; however, arrangements for make-ups should be made within a reasonable time frame, usually within one week of the absence. Regarding make-up work, absences due to late registration are considered the same as regular absences.

    Cell Phones/Pagers
    All cell phones and pagers must be turned off when the student is participating in any lecture, laboratory, or other learning activity.

    Classroom Conduct
    The professor is responsible for maintaining a class environment best suited for effective learning. By registering for this class, the student is assumed to have entered into an agreement with New Mexico Junior College and the professor to attend the class regularly and to behave in an appropriate manner at all times. Disruptive behavior may result in the student being removed from the class.

    Food and Drink Policy
    Food items and soft drinks may not be consumed in NMJC classrooms. Students are also discouraged from bringing food and drink items into the classroom even though these items remain in sealed packaging. Bottled water is permissible.

    No Children in the Classroom
    In order to adhere to instructional procedures as well as maintain the safety of children, NMJC’s policy of no children in the classrooms (lecture, lab, etc.) will be followed.

    Offering the work of another as one’s own, without proper acknowledgment, is plagiarism; therefore, any student who fails to give credit for quotations or essentially identical expression of material taken from books, encyclopedias, magazines and other reference works, or from the themes, reports, or other writings of a fellow student, is guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism violates the academic honesty policy and is considered cheating.

    Smoking/Use of Tobacco
    New Mexico Junior College is cognizant of the health hazards associated with smoking / use of tobacco for the smoker, as well as the non-smoker. In an effort to provide a healthy environment for students, employees, and others who may frequent the campus, NMJC prohibits smoking / use of tobacco inside any campus building or facility.

    Tutoring Assistance
    Free tutoring services are available to all NMJC students through Brainfuse and the Academic Success Center located at the Pannell Library on the 1st floor.

    Withdrawal Policy
    Regular, punctual attendance is required for all classes at NMJC. Although the professor has the right to drop any student who has missed the equivalent of 2 weeks of instruction (based on a 16 week semester) whether it’s a face to face, online, or a hybrid course, it is not guaranteed that the professor will drop the student. If the student chooses to stop attending a class, he/she should withdraw from the class by accessing your student account in the T-Bird Web Portal at, or submitting the required paperwork to the Registrar’s Office by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. All students are encouraged to discuss their class status with the professor prior to withdrawing from the class.




    Text Chapters



    Week 1

    Chapter 1 Discovering the night sky

    Introduction and Safety. Scientific Method.

    Quiz 0

    Introduction Discussion

    Student Intro. Dis.

    Chapter 1 Hw


    Week 2

    Chapter 2 Gravitation

    Observing the Sun’s Position and Motion

    Scientific Inquiry Quiz

    Chapter 2 Hw

    Newton & Galileo Journal



    Week 3

    Chapter 3 Light and Telescopes

    Monitoring the Moving Constellations

    Chapter 3 Hw

    Discussion on Telescopes

    Quiz 1 on Chap. 1 - 3   

    Week 4

    Exam 1 Chap. 1 – 3

    Exam 1 Chap. 1 – 3

    Week 4

    Chapter 4 Solar System, Earth, and Moon

    Observing the Sun’s Position and Motion

    Chapter 4 Hw

    Discussion on Pluto

    Week 5

    Chapter 5 & 6 Exoplanets, Other Planets and Their Moons

    Characterizing the Moon Through a Telescope:  Moon Mapping (Subject to Change)

     Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion

    Chapter 5 & 6 Hw

    Quiz 2 on Chapters 4, 5, & 6

    Week 6

    Exam 2 Chap. 4 – 6

     Exam 2 Chap. 4 – 6

    Week 6

    Chapter 7 & Chapter 8 Dwarf Planets and Other Objects of the Solar System

    Naked Eye Astronomy and Using Telescopes. 

    Exam 2 on Chapters 4, 5,  & 6

    Chapter 7 Hw

    Exoplanet Discussion


    Week 7

    Chapter 9 The Sun: Our Extraordinary Star

    Characterizing Atomic Spectra of Elements

    Chapter 9 Hw

    Discussion on about the Sun

    Week 8

    Chapter 10 Characterizing Stars

    Using the Telescope to Observe Planets

    Quiz 3 on Chapters 7, 8, & 9

    Week 9

    Chapter 10 Characterizing Stars & Fusion,

    Lab: Studying Planets Through a Telescope

    Chapter 9 Hw

    Discussion on Fusion

    Week 10

    Exam 3 Chap. 7 – 9

    Exam 3 Chap. 7 – 9

    Week 10

    Chapter 11 Lives of Stars

    Lab: Measuring Distances to Stars

    Chapter 11 Hw

    Week 11

    Chapter 11 Lives of Stars

    Lab: Observing Solar Features

    Chapter 11 Hw

    Week 12

    Chapter 12 Death of Stars

    Telescope Lab to Observe Night Objects (Subject to Change)

    Studying the Sun Through a Telescope

    Quiz 4 on Chapters 10 & 11

    Chapter 12 Hw


    Week 13

    Chapter 12 Death of Stars & Chapter 13 The Galaxies

    Telescope Lab to Observe Night Objects (Subject to Change)

    HR Diagram Lab

    Chapter 12 Hw

    Discussion on We are Stardust

    Week 14

    Chapter 13 The Galaxies & Chapter 14 Cosmology

    Characterizing Exoplanets

    Chapter 13 Hw

    Discussion on Galaxies

    Week 15

    Chapter 14 Cosmology

    Lab: Studying Astronomical Objects with Stellarium

    Quiz 5 on Chapters 12 & 13

    Chapter 14 Hw

    Discussion on Cosmology

    Week 15

    Exam 4 Chap. 10 – 13

    Exam 4 Chap. 10 – 13

    Week 15

    Chapter 15 Astrobiology

    Characterizing Galaxies

    Chapter 15 Hw


    Week 16

    Final Exams

    Wed., Dec. 11 in HH127 at 6:00-7:45 pm



    The instructor has the right to modify the course outline above as course conditions or college circumstances require.