ASTRONOMY 154LOL: Online Astronomy Laboratory Fall 2010

Instructor: Dr. Deqing Ren
Class Number: 15827
Class Website: Moodle at http://moodle.csun.edu/.
Instructor Office: LO 1124A
Phone: 818-677-3186
Email: ren.deqing@csun.edu



  1. Starry Night College software
  2. Webassign Login: Class Key is “csun 0036 2703”
  3. SC001 Equatorial Constellation Chart -bookstore
  4. Edmund Scientific Star and Planet Locator -bookstore

Instructions for obtaining these are found in the Moodle homepage for the course
The course information, Lab assignments, reading, and quizzes are accessed through the Moodle system  http://moodle.csun.edu .  Log in with your CSUN user ID and Password and click the link to this course. Your user ID is the one with your initials followed by 5 numbers. If you are unsure what it is, you can look it up using the link found on the login page. Once logged in, click the link to the course and read the instructions posted to proceed with the course.


This course covers the basic techniques used in gathering and analyzing data obtained from observations of the heavenly bodies.  What we measure, how we measure it, and how we analyze it.

The course material is divided into sections called LABS.
Each lab is broken up into sections.  The sections present vary for different labs.  The types of sections are:

  1. LECTURE: A video presentation of new concepts introduced by the module.
  2. READING: The laboratory manual reiterating the concepts and providing procedural instructions where applicable. 
  3. LAB: Laboratory exercises are accessed via the webassign site. These include step by step instructions on how to manipulate the Starry Night Software.  This contains any tables on which to record data, graphs to plot an analyze data, conclusions to be drawn from the data, questions posed by the lecture or reading, and exercises emphasizing a particular skill.  The different types of sections vary depending on the content of the lab.
  4. QUIZ: Certain labs will have a quiz at the end accessed through Moodle.  These quizzes contain exercises which are generally repeating skills used to fill out the data sheet, or questions emphasizing the overall concepts covered in the material.  These quizzes mimic in class quizzes and are to only be done individually, within the set time limit, and performed only once.

The due dates for the labs and quizzes will be listed in the calendar, and are also reflected as the availability date on the Webassign page itself in the case of the labs.  Students are free to work ahead on future labs that have been released.  However, students are required to COMPLETE EACH LAB AND QUIZ BEFORE ITS DUE DATE.

After the completion of all labs, students will be given a laboratory final that will include both data taking skills and concept understanding.  This final requires the use of the Equatorial Star Chart and the Star and Planet Locator but does not require Starry Night.  Like all other quizzes it is to be done individually, within the time limit and taken only once. The questions will be similar to those found in previous quizzes.


The Online Astronomy Laboratory is graded on a point scale.  Each point for an exercise or quiz counts equally.  The amount of points for each exercise/quiz varies depending on the content of the lab.  The final grade for the laboratory will be based on a percentage of the total possible points found by adding up all your points and dividing it by the total possible (then x 100%).

90.0-100.0 = a or a-
80.0-89.9 = b+, b, or b-
65.0-79.9 = c+, c, or c-
54.0-64.9 = d+, d, or d-
0.0-53.9 = f


  1. Forums: The Moodle page includes a link to forums on which students may ask questions about concepts, procedures, or other data taking question.  Other students may respond to these questions, however, please do not give a direct answer to any exercise or data.  Instead, provide hints or instructions to help the question asker find the answer on their own.  I will provide an answer to a question upon login if it has not been sufficiently answered already by a student.  Please read other student’s posts before posting your own question as your answer may already be there.  Please, post the questions within the topic for which it is most suited.  Quiz questions are not to be discussed.
  1. EMAIL: Use this correspondence only for questions or concerns not pertaining to the course material.  (When in doubt about which correspondence to use, remember, the forums are public and email is private.)  I will use both the forums and email to send some general course announcements. 



Before beginning work for Astronomy 154 LAB online there are some things that need to be set up.  NOTE: If you are or have taken the online lecture and already have a webassign account and the starry night software.  Then you can use the same accounts for both the lecture and the laboratory courses.


  1. Click on the ASSIGNMENT link on the main course WebCT page or open up a separate browser and link to http://www.webassign.net/login.html .  Here, you will need to log in to Web Assign for the first time.  You will be self enrolling in the class.  Click on the “I HAVE A CLASS KEY” button then enter the class key :

                          csun 0036 2703

  1. Next you will be prompted to register your account with webassign.  Purchase an access code directly from the webassign site.  The cost depends if you are taking the lecture, laboratory or both online.
  1. After that you will be directed to the course assignment page.  Here you will find your practice “ASSIGNMENT 0”.  This assignment will acquaint you with the different formats of questions which may be asked on an assignment.  You will also see how the scoring of the assignment works.     This assignment will not count toward your final grade.  Some of the questions on assignments may require the use of the Starry Night software.  As does this one…..  so before finishing the assignment you’ll need to….



The software is available to CSUN students at a discounted rate.  Visit the website http://www.starrynighteducation.com/college and enter the four digit referral code: d508.

The version you need to download is called “Starry Night College”.