AY 102: Introductory Astronomy Laboratory Syllabus

Prerequisites:Pre-requisite or co-requisite of AY 101
General Studies: Natural Science
Credit Hours: 1
Lab Rooms: 310 or 313 Gallalee Hall

Course Description

Astronomy 102 is the laboratory associated with Astronomy 101 (Introductory Astronomy). Laboratory exercises include observations of the sun, moon, and daytime astronomical activity. Indoor exercises include analyzing stellar spectra, exploring the celestial sphere, and astronomical photographic analysis. More specifically, the laboratory activities in AY 102 are designed to explore the following subjects:

  • lunar surface features
  • light spectra; analyzing the Sun’s spectrum
  • the Sun and solar activity
  • the orbital motions of planets in our Solar System
  • stellar brightness and stellar spectral types
  • the distribution of globular star clusters in our galaxy
  • observations of our Milky Way galaxy
  • galaxies and clusters of galaxies
  • galaxy motions and the expansion of the Universe

Course Goals

Students will become familiar with scholarly and research methods; learn to use simple laboratory equipment in astronomical observations; understand the scientific method and critically evaluate scientific information. Students will develop skills in working together in team activities. Scholarly and research methods will be applied to understanding astronomical observational processes and topics: visual phenomena in the sky, as well as distance, temperature, mass, elemental composition determination of stars and galaxies.


AY102 Introduction to Astronomy Laboratory Manual (most recent edition). You must bring your lab manual, a scientific calculator, and your registered clicker to each lab meeting. These items will not be supplied in the lab so bring your own! Your AY101 text and notes are required for lab preparation.


Astronomy 102 meets once a week for 3 hours. An instructor spends 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each lab providing background. Students then work in small groups on laboratory exercises, turning in a report at the end of each lab. The lab exercises are contained in a lab.

Lab Attendance

Plan on spending at least 1 hour of preparation before each lab meeting. Students are required to do the following:

  • read through each lab (including the questions) before each lab session and review related sections of your AY101 notes or textbook
  • attend all labs, arrive on time, and be prepared for a pre-test and clicker questions as required by your instructor
  • take notes on the presentations given by the instructor and study your notes for the quizzes
    complete all the lab exercises must be completed and handed in during the lab meeting
  • participate actively in group exercises & ask questions of the instructor if you do not understand all of an exercise

Quizzes and Grading

Your answers on all questions in a lab exercise will contribute to your grade. The average of your lab scores will be 60% of your course score. The average of the 3 scheduled quizzes during the semester, assessing your comprehension of the laboratory assignments, will be the remaining 40% of your course score. Lab and Quiz grades will be available during the next lab meeting. Graded lab exercises and quizzes will only be available in class or in your instructor’s office. Course score = 60% * labs + 40% * quizzes.

Missed Labs and Makeup Quizzes

Students may make up missed lab work by attending another lab section during the same week only after asking for permission of both your regular and the makeup lab instructor. You must fill out a tracking form (provided by the instructor) and return that form attached to your lab-work, to the instructor of the lab you attend. If you do not follow these instructions, your work will not receive credit. All missed lab exercises will be counted as 0 when computing your course score.

It is possible to make up one missed lab score by completing the last lab exercise of the semester (which is otherwise optional). The third quiz is also scheduled for the last meeting of the semesterĀ and is not optional.

If you have a scheduled conflict with a quiz on your scheduled lab meeting, you must inform your instructor (by email) before that regularly scheduled lab session. If you must miss a quiz due to an emergency (e.g., illness) you must present your instructor with a valid doctor’s note or another appropriate excuse as soon as possible and within one week. Any makeup quizzes must be completed before the next regular meeting of your lab section.

Alternative Courses

If you would like a more in-depth survey of planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe, then AY 204 (Solar System Astronomy) and/or AY 206 (Astronomy beyond the Solar System) may be better choices for you. AY 204 and AY 206 take 2 semesters to cover the same topics as AY 101 does in 1 semester. AY 204 and AY 206 also use more math (algebra and trigonometry) to enrich the subject further. AY 204 can also be combined with AY 203 (Observational Astronomy) to satisfy the N requirement of the University Core Curriculum.