History of Astronomy & Cosmology
Space Studies 470/570
Spring 2002 taught by Stephen B. Johnson, University of North Dakota 
Course Description

Research Paper, Writing Process & Historiographical Essay

Lectures, Discussion Sessions & Videotapes

Sending Assignments Electronically To Classmates & Instructor

Weekly Syllabus

Course Description: (back to top)
Stephen B. Johnson
Associate Professor
Space Studies Department
University of North Dakota
E-mail: sjohnson@space.edu
Voice: 719-487-9833 home / on campus 7-4925

This course investigates the history of human endeavors to understand phenomena outside of the earth's atmosphere. These include early efforts by Babylonians, Greeks, and medieval Europeans to understand the motion of the stars, "wandering stars" (planets), and comets. From the very beginning, these notions were tied to religious notions about the nature of the universe, and humanity's place in it. The course then moves to the progressive development of scientific understanding, from the development of telescopic and spectroscopic methods and the steady importation of theories from physics. Astronomy was central to the so-called "scientific revolution" from 1543 to 1700, with the historical figures of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. The class covers the steady expansion of human notions of the universe to include galaxies, and the detailed understanding of the solar system through direct exploration by spacecraft. Finally the course will also discuss scientific efforts to detect planets and life beyond Earth, a critical feature humanity's conceptions of the universe.

Grades: Grades will be determined based on a mid-semester exam (20%), a final exam (30%), a research paper (30% + 1% for each of two drafts), critiques (2% and 3%), and abstract (1%), a historiographical essay (5%), class presentation (5%) and participation (2%).

Exams: Examinations will consist of a mixture of multiple choice, identification, short answer, and essay questions, and will cover materials from the reading and lecture.

Learning Objective: This course has three primary goals:

  1. To introduce the major people and events in the history of astronomy and cosmology,
  2. To understand the historical circumstances, causes and effects, and relationships between cultural and social developments, theory, and technical development for astronomy and cosmology,
  3. To learn historical research and writing methods.
Required texts: Available from MBS Direct or other major bookstores:
  1. Steven J. Dick. Life on Other Worlds: The 20th-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  2. Ronald E. Doel, Solar System Astronomy in America: Communities, Patronage, and Interdisciplinary Research, 1920-1960, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
  3. Michael Hoskin, ed., The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Research Paper & Writing Process (back to top)
You will write a 12-16 page (10-12 pages undergraduate) research paper on some historical topic. I expect you to read from more than one source for this information. I will give you separate instructions for the content and expectations for the paper. We will use a phased writing process for your research paper. I will assign teams in which you will work throughout the class. You will first define a topic and will turn in to me a one paragraph abstract describing your topic, approach, and what sources you expect to use. Next, you will give me your historiographical essay regarding the sources for this paper. You will then give me and your critique partners a copy of your draft paper. You will give a copy of your critiques to the original writer, and to me. I will grade the draft of the research paper only to check for completeness and if they are handed in on time. I will then grade the critique. We will repeat this process twice during the course of the semester, and then you will then give me your final paper. Papers will be space-and-a-half or double-spaced, 10 or 12 font. I WILL DEDUCT 5% PER PAGE FOR PAPERS THAT HAVE THEIR MAIN TEXT FALL SHORT OF OR EXCEED THE SPECIFIED NUMBER PAGES, AND 5% PER DAY FOR LATENESS! You may include pictures, graphs, or references beyond the specified number of pages, but not the main text. The final paper will count for 30% of the class grade.

Historiographical Essay

You will write a short 3-4 page essay on what historians have written about your topic. This should include a complete listing of the "secondary sources", and how these historians have interpreted the events in question. If there are few or no secondary sources, then you will need to describe your primary sources. I will give further instructions in class.
Lectures, Discussion Sessions & Videotapes  (back to top)
As you have undoubtedly noticed, the schedule for this class is different from what you normally find at UND. I live in Colorado Springs, and come onto campus one week per month to teach on campus students. You should plan to come to the lectures every day from 3-5:30 during those weeks. If you have conflicts (which will occasionally happen), you may check out a tape of the lectures you missed from the Space Studies Department secretary, Bev Thompson. You may keep these for two nights maximum before returning them to Bev. During the weeks when I am out of town, we will frequently have a one hour discussion session in which we will cover problems with assignments, and discuss some lecture and reading materials in more depth. Your class participation grade is based on participation in both lecture sessions and discussion sessions.

Sending Assignments Electronically To Classmates & Instructor (back to top)
Abstracts, rough drafts, and critiques sent through email should not contain any large graphics. Small assignments, such as the abstracts, are most reliably sent as text-only ASCII pasted or typed into an e-mail message. For larger assignments, attachments in MS Word format are acceptable. Do not use another word processor, as this causes major problems for your partners.

Weekly Syllabus (back to top)

Week 1
DISCUSSION 1: Introduction & class overview. Research paper topic.
READINGS: Hoskin Chapters 1-3.

Week 2

SESSIONS 1-8: Planetarium show. Archeoastronomy. Babylonia. Greek and Hellenistic astronomy. Islamic astronomy. Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler, Galileo.
READINGS: Hoskin Chs 4-5.
DUE: Research Paper Abstract.
Week 3
DISCUSSION 2. Greek cosmology.
READINGS: Hoskin Ch 6.
Week 4
DISCUSSION 3: Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.
READINGS: Hoskin Ch 7.
Week 5
SESSIONS 9-16: Telescopes. Newton. Stellar Parallax. Uranus, Neptune, and the first asteroids. Spectroscopy and photography.
READINGS: Hoskin 219-246. Dick Ch. 1.
Week 6
MIDTERM EXAM: Through session 16.
READINGS: Hoskin 247- 252. Dick Ch. 2.
Week 7
DISCUSSION 4: Newton. Historiographical Essay.
READINGS: Hoskin 252-259. Dick Ch. 4. Doel Introduction.
DUE: Historiographical Essay.
Week 8
DISCUSSION 5: Spectroscopy.
READINGS: Hoskin 259-300. Doel Ch 1.
Week 9
SESSIONS 17-24: The Mars controversy. Cepheids and the Island Universe Debate. Andromeda & Hubble, rebirth of cosmology. Cosmogeny.
READINGS: Hoskin 300-324. Doel Ch. 2.
DUE: Writing samples.
3/11-3/15 Spring Break
Week 10
DISCUSSION 6: Island universes and the expanding universe.
READINGS: Doel Ch. 3. Dick Ch. 3.
DUE: Writing Sample Critiques.
Week 11
DISCUSSION 7: Mars life?
READINGS: Doel Ch 4. Dick Ch. 5.
3/29-4/1 Easter Break
Week 12
SESSIONS 25-32: Planetary science. SETI and exobiology.
READINGS: Doel Ch 5. Dick Ch. 6.
DUE: Full draft.
Week 13
DISCUSSION 8: Planetary science.
READINGS: Doel Ch. 6. Dick Ch. 7.
DUE: Full draft critiques.
Week 14
READINGS: Doel Conclusion. Dick Chs. 8-9.
DUE: Final papers.
Week 15
Week 16
Final Exam: Date to be determined.

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