ASTRO 220 - New Discoveries in Astronomy
Fall 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is   Hybrid (see other Sections below)
Subject: Astronomy (ASTRO)
Department: LSA Astronomy
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Requirements & Distribution:
BS, NS, QR/2
Credit Exclusions:
Credit granted for a combined total of 6 credits in ASTRO 220 and ASTRO 420.
Waitlist Capacity:
Enforced Prerequisites:
Any one of: PHYSICS 112, ASTRO 101, 102, 104, 105, 115, 142, or 201.
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:


This is a topics course centered on professional visitors hosted by the weekly Astronomy Department Colloquium Series. Each week, a different invited speaker visits the class and gives a simplified, 15-minute talk about his/her research. The students will have time for questions and discussion with the visitor. There will be both preparatory and follow-up discussion before and after the visit so that students gain a complete understanding of the context, motivation, methodology, and scientific discoveries associated with each project presented. Theoretical uncertainties and experimental limits will also be discussed. In summary, students in this course will essentially participate in a real colloquium experience, but at a slower pace compared to the faculty experience. The Astronomy Department Colloquium series is traditionally on Thursday afternoon, and the classes must be scheduled to coincide on the same day as the Colloquium Series.

Course Requirements:

Weekly written homework, which may, for example, take the form of briefly summarizing speaker's project: 1) context and hypothesis, 2) experimental or theoretical method, 3) scientific result. Students also will be required to choose a follow-up to one of the semester's colloquium topics and write a 6-8 page term paper about the science in greater detail than discussed in class. Class participation will be evaluated by contributions to class discussions. In addition, each student is required to submit at least one question resulting from the speaker's presentation. These questions, together with the homework, may form the basis for follow-up class discussion. The course grade will be based on: 50% weekly homework, 40% term paper, and 10% class participation.

Intended Audience:

Any students who have taken a 100-level Astronomy course and who are interested in learning more about cutting-edge astronomical research.

Class Format:

The Tuesday lecture for this course, given in person, will be captured and made available asynchronously. The Thursday interaction with the department visitor will be in person and captured, or online with recording, according to the visitor's choice. Either will be made available asynchronously.

This course will use Canvas for all asynchronous online components. Access to Zoom with a microphone and camera will be necessary for a subset of Thursday classes held online, and for student presentations in the last three class sessions.

Assessment will be through weekly homework and short reports submitted on Canvas, and individual presentations given on Zoom in the last three class sessions, plus a final paper submitted on Canvas.


ASTRO 220 - New Discoveries in Astronomy
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Note: As a hybrid course most material will be in-person in the classroom setting, with an online component if the department visitor requests that. All material will be captured or recorded for asynchronous viewing.

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ASTRO 220 (UM login required)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)