Course Outline
What kind of a course is Astronomy I (ASTR 1P01/PHYS 1P01)?

This course is primarily designed for students who need a science context credit. At the same time, the course is highly recommended as an elective for science students, in particular those who plan to become teachers, because of its strong emphasis on the scientific method and how we came to know what we currently know about our universe.

For current and future teachers, note that the Ontario Grade 9 science curriculum includes a unit entitled "The Study of the Universe" (as part of the Earth and Space Science strand), and there is an entire course in Grade 12 science entitled "Earth and Space Science" (SES4U), two of the units of which are entitled "Astronomy (Science of the Universe)" and "Planetary Science (Science of the Solar System)."

The study of astronomy has inspired humans to revolutionize the way we understand the universe and our place in it, and has led to the development of modern science. Knowing something about this beautiful chapter in the story of intellectual history is an important goal of this course.

The online section of this course is very similar to the in-person section, and includes video clips of lectures by Professor B. Mitrović and also his pdf lecture notes. The course content is the same in both sections, the textbook is the same, and we do our best to prepare tests and exams that are at the same difficulty level. In the online section you have access to Dr. Mitrović's pdf lecture notes and video lecture clips, so we've done everything we can to make the learning resources as similar as possible in both sections.

Writing Tests and the Final Exam Off-Campus

Tests and the final exam are written on paper, in person at Brock or at another supervised location (NOT online).

If you live more than 150 km away from Brock's main campus in St. Catharines, you may be able to write your tests and final exam off-campus. See Instructions for Writing Off-Campus for full details. If you have any questions about off-campus testing, please communicate with the good people at Make arrangements as soon as possible, as deadlines are strict! Our colleagues in the Brock Scheduling Office are overworked and have an extremely stressful job, so to avoid driving these good people absolutely crazy, the course instructor will not be bailing students out if they miss a deadline for arranging off-campus testing. If you miss a deadline for arranging off-campus testing, your options will be to write on campus or to accept a grade of zero on the missed test or exam. To avoid disappointment, make your arrangements as soon as possible!


ASTRO (2nd Canadian Edition), by Ghose, Milosevic-Zdeljar, and Read, Nelson Education, 2016; ISBN-10: 0-17-653214-5; ISBN-13: 978-0-17-653214-7 (available at Brock's Campus Bookstore).

Professor Mitrović's lecture video clips, and lecture slides, links to which are found on the topic pages of this web site, are considered essential viewing/reading for participants of this course, in lieu of attending his lectures. There are many other links to good information on this site, which provide alternative explanations, and in some cases additional information, for those who are interested in other perspectives, or in digging deeper. It is not necessary to read any of the "additional sources of information" in order to succeed in the course, but it is provided for those who are interested.

The textbook is also considered essential reading for the course. The textbook is listed as "Required," and so we expect each student to have one. Questions on tests and the final exam are chosen from any of the essential sources of information: the textbook and Dr. Mitrović's lecture videos and lecture notes.

Online Materials

All information about the course material (the topics covered in the course, sample test and exam questions, etc.) are posted online at

How to Succeed in this Course

Professor Mitrović's lecture video clips, links to which are found on the topic pages of this web site, are considered essential viewing for participants of this course, in lieu of attending his lectures. Dr. Mitrović's lecture notes provide additional support for your understanding of the course material. There are also many other links to good information on this site, which provide alternative explanations, and in some cases additional information, for those who are interested in other perspectives, or in digging deeper. These other links are not essential, and can be ignored for those who are not interested.

The best way to succeed in this course is to work through the course material (the video lectures, the textbook, and the other online resources) according to the schedule below. Trying to learn in a science course by cramming at the last moment is a futile, stressful process. It's far more effective to work diligently on a daily basis, as then you will internalize your learning and retain it for a lifetime. Difficult topics, which abound in science courses, take time to understand. Often one must work through a topic several times before the light goes on. This is true not just for us ordinary people, but also for the greatest scientists.

There are no shortcuts; if you do the work, regularly and persistently, you will succeed.

Course Topics

The schedule is provided to assist you in keeping up with your studies (don't fall behind!) and in preparing for the tests and exams.

Week Dates Unit Textbook
0, 1 5 – 14 Sept 1. Introduction Chapter 1
2, 3 17 – 28 Sept 2. Cycles of the Sky Chapter 2
4 1 – 5 Oct 3. The Story of Astronomy 3.1—3.4
  8 – 12 Oct Fall Reading Week  
5 15 – 19 Oct 3. The Story of Astronomy (concluded) 3.1—3.4
6 22 – 26 Oct 4. Gravity and Motion 3.5
7 29 Oct – 2 Nov 5. Light, Atoms, and Telescopes Chapter 4 and 5.2, 5.4
8, 9 5 – 16 Nov 6. Measuring Properties of Stars Chapter 6
10, 11 19 – 30 Nov 7. The Sun 5.1, 5.3, 5.5, 5.6
12 3 – 4 Dec Course Review  
Course Instructor

Dr. S. D'Agostino, office MC E219, email

OFFICE HOURS for Fall 2018: MC E219, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 2–3 pm, or by appointment.

The best way to ask general questions, including questions about course content, is to use the Piazza tool at Sakai, as then others can also see the response. Contact me via email for private matters, such as missing a test due to illness.

Academic Integrity

Academic misconduct is a serious offence. The principle of academic integrity, particularly of doing one’s own work, documenting properly (including use of quotation marks, appropriate paraphrasing and referencing/citation), collaborating appropriately, and avoiding misrepresentation, is a core principle in university study. Students should consult Section VII, “Academic Misconduct”, in the “Academic Regulations and University Policies” entry in the Undergraduate Calendar, available here, to view a fuller description of prohibited actions, and the procedures and penalties.

A helpful web site describes Brock's academic integrity policy. Please read it carefully, as all students are expected to understand it and abide by its provisions.
Marking Scheme
Component Topics Date Time Location Weight
Test 1 Units 1 and 2 25%
Test 2 Units 3, 4, 5 25%
Final Exam Entire Course 50%

TH = Thistle Complex, STH = Academic South (also known as South Block), DHOWES = David S. Howes Theatre, TH SOS = Sean O'Sullivan Theatre, WCDVIS = Davis Gymnasium. For room locations, consult the campus map.

Tests and exams consist of multiple-choice questions. The final exam is comprehensive (i.e., covers the entire course), but may be a little more heavily weighted on material from the final third of the course.

Important Notes on Test 1 and Test 2
  • Students who are more than 10 minutes late for the beginning of a test will not be allowed to write the test in order not to disturb others.
  • Students are asked to remain in their seats until 20 minutes have passed in order not to disturb those who are still writing.
  • Mark your answers on scantron sheets only in pencil.
  • Students are required to write their full name on their scantron sheet and to carefully write their student number accurately in the appropriate boxes on their scantron sheet, then code their student numbers by shading the correct bubbles on the scantron sheet. If you code your student number incorrectly, the machine reader will not record your grade; this will cause a delay in processing your grade. To avoid delays, make sure to code your student number correctly on the scantron sheet.
  • You may bring an eraser and a simple scientific calculator (not graphics, not programmable) to the tests and exam along with your pencil. Make sure to bring a pencil!
Medical Documentation

If you miss a test, and you have a very good reason (documentation required), contact the course instructor as soon as possible for next steps. If you know in advance that you will have to miss a test or the final exam, due to some conflict, contact the course instructor as soon as possible for permission to miss the test and/or for instructions on resolving the conflict.

If you miss the final exam for a very good reason (documentation is required and should be presented to the course instructor in person), you will be required to write a make-up exam to get a credit in the course, unless your situation is truly extreme. Final exam periods tend to be extremely busy, so there is no guarantee that it will be possible to write a make-up exam soon after the scheduled final exam; therefore, do your very best to stay strong and healthy so that this will not be a concern for you.

Medical (or other) documentation is no longer accepted in electronic format, and will not be accepted if submitted by email. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION TO ME BY EMAIL. Present an original version of your medical documentation (not a photocopy) to the course instructor in person. If it is not practical for you to present your documentation in person, leave it at the main Physics Department Office (Room MC B210), but be sure that your documentation is complete, includes your name and student number, includes the doctor's contact information, and is signed by both you and the doctor. If it is not practical to present your documentation in person, send it to the course instructor care of the Physics Department, Brock University, 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, L2S 3A1. Note that according to university regulations, medical documentation must be received within seven days of a missed examination.

You can print a copy of Brock's standard medical certificate by using the pdf file here.

Withdrawal Deadline

The last date for withdrawal from this course without academic penalty is Tuesday 6 November, 2018.

Tests and Exam From the Current Course

Your test and exam scores will be posted at the Brock Gradebook, which can be accessed using Student Self Serve from your Brock Portal, NOT from Sakai. Test and exams with correct answers in our course are posted below. If you wish to check your responses on individual questions, you can do so by going to Room MC B203. You'll find a printout on the front counter, near the sink at the far right of the counter, containing each student's choices (ordered by student number) and the correct choices.

Tests and final exam from the current course, with answers, will be posted here shortly after they are written.

Fall 2018

Previous Tests and Exams, with Answers

Note that previous tests may not cover exactly the same slice of the course as the tests in the current course, due to the unusual scheduling of Spring courses, and also due to the change in textbook for Fall 2016. Therefore, don't treat the previous tests as exact reviews for our tests, but rather as samples only. Students usually find them a valuable source of practice material, but don't take them as a predictor of the exact questions you might find on the tests in this course.

Note that simply memorizing the answers to test questions found on previous tests and exams is a very poor way to learn the course material, and also a poor way of preparing for our tests. Science is not about memorization, but about understanding. To get a good understanding of the course takes time and work, going over the material carefully several times, and discussing it with others. Use the sample tests after you have studied the course material, to provide you feedback on which topics you need to review.

Spring 2018

Test 1 | Answers
Test 2 | Answers
Final Exam | Answers

Fall 2017

Test 1 | Answers
Test 2 | Answers
Final Exam | Answers