Instructor: Steven R. Cranmer   (email, web page)
Instructor's Office:   Duane Physics D111 (main campus), LASP/SPSC N218 (east campus)
Course Times:     Fall 2019, Mon./Wed./Fri., 11:00-11:50 pm
Location: Duane Physics, Room D142
Office Hours: Duane D111: Mon. 12:00-1:00 (after class) and Thurs. 10:00-11:00, or by appointment
Syllabus: See the most up-to-date PDF version.


Summary

This class is for anyone fascinated by that huge, fiery powerhouse up in the sky that sustains all life on Earth. In this seminar, you will discover what makes the Sun shine, how it affects Earth's climate and biology, how we can harness its power, and how it can produce hazardous "solar storms" that may have serious consequences here on the ground. We will seek out deep connections between topics as seemingly different as rainbows, ancient myths, and alien life forms. You'll also chart your own course by designing your own group projects and writing about topics of interest to you... all the while picking up useful skills for college.

Course Material

Our textbook for this course is Sun, Earth, and Sky by Kenneth R. Lang (2nd ed., Springer Publishing, 2006). The CU Bookstore has ordered a number of copies, but the CU Library system has also made it possible for you to download the full book as a PDF file (as long as your internet connection is from a colorado.edu domain). It's up to you which format you obtain.

Other links for this course include:

  • Here is more information about the student presentations.
  • Here is more information about the GROUP PROJECTS.
  • Here is a template for the participation log that you can fill in to help keep track of the ways that you contribute to the class: there's a Word version (docx) as well as a PDF version.
  • This page contains links to additional resources (mostly YouTube videos) for extra help with studying, exam anxiety, math, and overall college success.
  • PDF version of an ABCD card for responding to multiple-choice questions.
  • This page lists the music that we play before class.

Lectures

Below is a detailed schedule that will list the material to be covered in each class session, links to electronic copies of any handouts and problem sets, and various course deadlines.

  1. Mon., August 26: Introduction to the course, and overview of the topics we'll cover.
    • Handout: syllabus
    • Homework 1 assigned, due Fri., September 6.
    • Lecture Notes for the first day of class.

  2. Wed., August 28: Relationship of Sun to planets: seasons, myths, history, math.

  3. Fri., August 30: Relationship of Sun to planets: seasons, myths, history, math.

      [Mon., September 2 is Labor Day, no classes.]

  4. Wed., September 4: Relationship of Sun to planets: seasons, myths, history, math.

  5. Fri., September 6: Movie day at Fiske Planetarium: "Solar Superstorms" & more!
    • Homework 1 due.

  6. Mon., September 9: Relationship of Sun to planets: seasons, myths, history, math.
    • Presentation schedule posted.
    • Homework 2 assigned (for non-presenters), due Fri., September 20.
    • Lecture Notes.

  7. Wed., September 11: Observing the Sun: telescopes, spacecraft, eclipses.

  8. Fri., September 13: Observing the Sun: telescopes, spacecraft, eclipses.

  9. Mon., September 16: Observing the Sun: telescopes, spacecraft, eclipses.

  10. Wed., September 18: Observing the Sun: telescopes, spacecraft, eclipses.
    • Half-class: student presentation 1 (John-Howard Bissell)
    • Lecture Notes.

  11. Fri., September 20: Observing the Sun: telescopes, spacecraft, eclipses.
    • Homework 2 due.
    • Homework 3 assigned... topics due due Fri., September 27.
    • Lecture Notes.

  12. Mon., September 23: Inner workings of the Sun: energy generation.

  13. Wed., September 25: Inner workings of the Sun: solar evolution.

  14. Fri., September 27: Inner workings of the Sun: solar evolution.

  15. Mon., September 30: Inner workings of the Sun: solar evolution.
    • Homework 3 topic feedback/approval will be given out.
    • Start writing Homework 3 essay first draft, due Fri., October 11.
    • Lecture Notes.

  16. Wed., October 2: Solar magnetic activity: flares, sunspots, dynamos.
    • Half-class: student presentation 3 (Francis Pillsbury)
    • Lecture Notes.

  17. Fri., October 4: Solar magnetic activity: flares, sunspots, dynamos.

  18. Mon., October 7: Solar magnetic activity: flares, sunspots, dynamos.

  19. Wed., October 9: Solar magnetic activity: flares, sunspots, dynamos.

  20. Fri., October 11: Space weather: dangers from the Sun.
    • Homework 3 first drafts due... will be distributed to peers in class.
    • Homework 3 peer reviews due Fri., October 18.
    • Lecture Notes.

  21. Mon., October 14: Space weather: dangers from the Sun.

  22. Wed., October 16: Space weather: dangers from the Sun.

  23. Fri., October 18: Space weather: dangers from the Sun.
    • Homework 3 peer reviews due... will be distributed back to writers on Monday.
    • Homework 3 second draft due Mon., October 28.
    • Lecture Notes.

  24. Mon., October 21: Space weather: dangers from the Sun.

  25. Wed., October 23: Space weather: dangers from the Sun.

  26. Fri., October 25: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.

  27. Mon., October 28: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.
    • Homework 3 second draft due.
    • Homework 4 assigned (for non-presenters), due Fri., November 8.
    • Lecture Notes.

  28. Wed., October 30: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.

  29. Fri., November 1: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.

  30. Mon., November 4: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.

  31. Wed., November 6: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.
    • Half-class: student presentation 6 (Caleb Jimenez)
    • Half-class: student presentation 8 (Yasmeen Guerrero)
    • Lecture Notes.

  32. Fri., November 8: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.
    • Homework 4 due.
    • Homework 5 assigned, due Monday, November 18.
    • Lecture Notes.

  33. Mon., November 11: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.

  34. Wed., November 13: Sun-atmosphere phenomena: rainbows to climate change.

  35. Fri., November 15: Sun's effect on biology (plants and animals).
    • Half-class: student presentation 10 (Benjamin Cunningham)
    • Lecture Notes.

  36. Mon., November 18: Sun's effect on biology (plants and animals).

  37. Wed., November 20: Sun's effect on biology (plants, animals, and people).

  38. Fri., November 22: Solar panels: contributing to society's energy needs?

      [November 25-29: Fall Break, no classes.]

  39. Mon., December 2: Alien life under alien suns.

  40. Wed., December 4: Alien life under alien suns.

  41. Fri., December 6: Alien life under alien suns.

  42. Mon., December 9: Time reserved for group-project presentations.

  43. Wed., December 11: Time reserved for group-project presentations.

      [Fri., Dec. 13: Reading Day, Final Exam Week: Dec. 14-18.]