PHYSICS 1007 - Space Science and Astrophysics I

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

This course aims to present a survey of astronomical science, including highlights of modern exploration and the open questions in astronomy. Topics include the formation and characteristics of the Solar System, including the planets and minor members of the system; Telescopes; the Sun; the birth, life and death of stars; galaxies and dark matter; active galaxies and quasars; Big Bang cosmology.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 1007
    Course Space Science and Astrophysics I
    Coordinating Unit School of Physical Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 7 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Incompatible PHYSICS 1002
    Restrictions Available to BSc(Space Sci & Astrophysics) students only
    Course Description This course aims to present a survey of astronomical science, including highlights of modern exploration and the open questions in astronomy. Topics include the formation and characteristics of the Solar System, including the planets and minor members of the system; Telescopes; the Sun; the birth, life and death of stars; galaxies and dark matter; active galaxies and quasars; Big Bang cosmology.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Andrew MacKinnon

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    A successful student should be able to:
    1 Describe the features of objects in the Solar System (i.e. Sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, planetary interiors, atmospheres, etc.) giving details of similarities and differences between these objects;
    2 detail the presently accepted formation theories of the solar system based upon observational and physical constraints;
    3 detail changes which are observed when viewing the sky daily, weekly, monthly, annually and longer period of time and demonstrate an understanding of the reasons behind any observed changes;
    4 demonstrate an understanding of the basic properties of the Sun and other stars;
    5 explain stellar evolution, including red giants, supernovas, neutron stars, pulsars, white dwarfs and black holes, using evidence and presently accepted theories;
    6 detail the main features and formation theories of the various types of observed galaxies, in particular the Milky Way;
    7 explain the evolution of the expanding Universe using concepts of the Big Bang and observational evidence;
    8 use information learned in class and develop observation skills to be able to explain astronomical features and observations obtained via telescopic observations or data provided through computer simulations.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    M.A. Seeds, Horizons: Exploring the Universe, 13th edition (or earlier) (Thomson)


    J.D. Fix, Astronomy: Journey to the Cosmic Frontier, 6th edition (or earlier) (McGraw Hill)


    N. Commins & W.J. Kaufmann, Discovering the Universe, 8th edition (or earlier) (Freeman)


    any other "freshman" level Astronomy text. Multiple copies of the textbooks and similar books are available in the Barr Smith Library, some in the Reserve Collection (3 hour loan).

    Recommended Resources

    Multiple copies of the textbooks and similar books are available in the Barr Smith Library, some in the Reserve Collection (3 hour loan).

    Online Learning

    MyUni: Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    This course will be delivered by the following means:

    • 3 lectures of 1 hour per week
    • 1 tutorial of 1 hour per week
    • 1 practical of 3 hours per fortnight (weather dependant)

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).

    Learning Activities Summary

    The course content will include the following:

    Coursework Content

    • 24 lectures as an introduction to General Astronomy
    • 12 lectures studying the Solar System

    If you miss a lecture, you should talk to a friend to find out what you missed, collect copies of any notes that were distributed and work through the missed material as soon as possible.

    Practical Work Content

    • Observing the Moon:

    One evening observing the Moon from the University campus.

    This observing session will be accompanied by a set of guided observing tasks and questions for assessment.

    • Observing the Night Sky:

    A visit to a dark site outside of the city with some portable telescopes (125, 200 and 250mm diameter). A set of guided exercises will be provided.

    • CCD Imaging
      • Observations: On one evening (date to be advised) you will gain some experience using a telescope with CCD camera and spectroscope
      • Analysis: One of the Tuesday 3-hour sessions will be devoted to analysing the images taken.
    • Computer Lab: "Radio Astronomy of Pulsars", a simulation of a radio telescope.
    • Computer Lab: “Astronomical imaging”
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    SGDE Experience will be embedded with tutorial and practical components.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment taskType of assessmentPercentage of total assessment for grading purposesHurdle (Yes/No)Outcomes being assessed
    Essay Formative & Summative 10% No 1 – 7
    In-Semester tests Formative & Summative 10% No 1-8
    Practical Exercises Formative & Summative 20% No 1 – 8
    Exam Summative 60% No 1 – 7
    Assessment Related Requirements

    To obtain a grade of Pass or better in one of these courses, a student must:

    • Attend the examination.

    To be eligible for an additional examination on academic grounds a student must attend at least 60% of the tutorials.

    Assessment Detail

    Should be of approximately 1,500 words in length. Marks will be given for science content. References and the source of web information must be included.

    Practical achievement and practical reports
    Practical work includes a formative component in that students receive early feedback on the first computer practical report.

    Final exam
    This summative assessment activity comprehensively addresses the learning objectives for Astrophysics.

    In-Semester Tests
    There will be 3 in-semester tests.


    Submission of Assigned Work
    Coversheets must be completed and attached to all submitted work. Coversheets can be obtained from the School Office (room G33 Physics) or from MyUNI. Work should be submitted via the assignment drop box at the School Office.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Extensions of deadlines for assessment tasks may be allowed for reasonable causes. Such situations would include compassionate and medical grounds of the severity that would justify the awarding of a supplementary examination. Evidence for the grounds must be provided when an extension is requested. Students are required to apply for an extension to the Course Coordinator before the assessment task is due. Extensions will not be provided on the grounds of poor prioritising of time. The assessment extension application form can be obtained from: 

    Late submission of assessments
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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