Course Outline



    Teacher—Mr. Tad Herman               Office: Rm. 272          Home thaddeus.herman@wcsdny.org

     Course Description— A general survey course in astronomy.  Topics will include our historic development of understanding the universe, observing the night sky, astronomical equipment and telescopes, solar system astronomy, stellar evolution, stars and galaxy, cosmology, space exploration, and new advances in astronomy.  Prerequisites and more detailed topic outline on separate district course description.

     The course will meet one period per day.  The class will meet once a week in the computer lab (if the lab schedule allows) to perform activities with astronomy software and internet searches for related materials. There will be monthly evening observations sessions available to view the night sky and to use the telescopes to observe the Moon, planets, and deep sky objects.


    Course Philosophy—   WCSD offers a few “enrichment” science courses to enhance the list of its science offerings.  The previous structure of the science course offerings has been the full spread of Regents offerings to meet state requirements, AP and Honors courses for the strong academic students, and the basics science courses (Practical Chem.,Conceptual Phys., and Marine Science) for the students working to meet their basic Regents requirements.  The idea behind Astronomy (and Forensics) is to offer science for students that wish to continue their science education. This course will have more flexibility than a Regents curriculum, allowing the students to help drive the direction and depth of the topics covered. 

                 Astronomy is an extremely diverse science that gets less than 3 weeks coverage through the whole regents sequences (mainly in Earth Science).  This course is designed for the student that is interested in exploring the subject in much greater depth.  Because of the non-experimental nature of astronomy, and the advances in observational technologies, astronomy is a very dynamic subject.  New and significant discoveries are constantly being made.  This often makes the internet a more powerful resource than a well developed textbook.  The course is designed to be flexible enough that the students will be able to review and discuss some of these ground breaking topics as they are happening. At the other end of the spectrum is the simple nature of observational astronomy.  Astronomy started by humans’ fascination with looking up at the night sky and wondering what it was all about.  This class will offer, and expect attendance, at evening observations sessions over the course of the year, thus allowing students to actually see for themselves the quiet beauty of the night sky. 

    Course Structure

    Teacher Lecture-3 or less per week to convey the factual information of the course.

     Computer Lab- Astronomy software and internet searches once per week.

     In Class Activities-There is a limited number of “experiments” that can be done with astronomy during

                 daylight hours, but these will be incorporated into the class.

    Out of Class Activities-Monthly star gazing sessions will be offered to view night sky and telescopic objects.  Also, On-line research for new developments in Astronomy (Student Research Reviews)

    Test and Quizzes-One big test per quarter, quizzes happen about every two weeks.

    Grading Policy

    Quarter Test-                          20%

    Quizzes-                                  30%

    Student research reviews    20%  (There is a separate document fully describing the Student Research Reviews) 

    Quarter Project                       10%

    Class Activities                       20%


    Year End Grade

    Each of  4-quarters-- 20% 


    Missed Work—If you know you are going to miss something important (most likely a test), then let me know beforehand.  If you are home sick for the day of a test, then you have all day to call or email me to acknowledge the fact that you know you are missing that important thing.  Coming in the next day and stating that you need to make up the test may be too late. Numerically speaking…

    • If you inform me that you are missing a test, including, the day of the test, a make-up is allowed without penalty (Unless you appear to be making a habit of missing test day.)
    • If you DON’T inform me until after the test, then your score will be test score x 80%.

    The absence has to be an excused absence.


    • Any HW will have a clearly designated due date and must appear the moment you appear after that due date.


    My Expectation of Students

    §  A three-ringed binder for handouts and notes.  It can be part of a larger notebook.

    §  You are expected to have a scientific calculator (One that can handle scientific notation, trig functions, square roots) and know how to use it.

    §  You are expected to bring your notebook and calculator to class everyday (Pencil or pen, too!)  The textbook that you are given can be kept at home unless I ask you to bring it in.

    §  You are expected to hand in all material on time.

    §  Courteous, respectful and mature behavior is expected at all times.  If I need to speak to you more than twice about disruptive behavior (including cell phones), I will be contacting your parents.

    §  To be in your seats and ready to go when the bell rings.


    §  To work (well) with others, and not to always expect to work with your friends.

    §  If you are having difficulty, please ask for extra help.

    My Expectations of the Teacher

    §  To present the material in a number of different ways to help make it exciting.

    §  I expect to hand back all graded material within one week.

    §  Courteous, respectful and mature behavior is expected at all times.

    §  To be in the room and ready to go when the bell rings.




    §  If you are having difficulty, I will be very willing to give extra help.  Please feel free to talk to me anytime during the school day to set up extra help time during or after school.  I also invite you and/or your parents to contact me via EMAIL  thaddeus.herman@wcsdny.org






    MATH is part of the science of astronomy, and the teacher will not be afraid to us it.  It will be expected that you should be able to use it as well.  Successful completion Math 3 should be sufficient for a solid success in this class.