Astro 25 - Field Astronomy in the California Mountains

Syllabus: Summer Semester, June 24-26, 2016

Post-Trip Photo Page (under construction)

Hi Gang. This will be our first Astro 25 course! We will hold the field trip at beautiful Indian Creek Reservoir just north of Markleville. I'll provide updated instructions on getting there, maps, etc, a little later, and especially during our pre-trip get together on Saturday June 18 at 9am in room 705 on campus. We've camped there before - in fact my first field class - Astro 28A - way back in 1998 was held here. We should have a good contingent of astronomy club people there as well, to help us. It's got a great view of a dark dark sky, a big lake to enjoy, shouldn't be overcrowded like so many places in the Sierra, and is a nice getaway for doing astronomy and some exploring.

The camping fee will be $10/person, and another $10/person for 4 meals if you'd like me to buy, prepare, and cook for you, which I recommend as it helps teach team work and cooperative skills. If you want to get a flavor for what my field astro courses are like, please browse through the Astro 28 pages here.

Here's a link to the campsite , and the Indian Creek Recreation land it is on. And, a google maps link. It's about a 4 1/2 hr drive from Cabrillo College. We'll help you get to know your fellow students for carpooling during the on-campus pre-trip meeting. The area has clear horizons, as well as shady pines where many campsites are. It should have great temperatures for late June, being not too high elevation (5,600 ft or so). There's a lake we can enjoy during the day, and we'll also hike during the day to find nice places to talk about planetary science and the universe too, with examples of Earth right around us.

I'll have more information, hardcopy maps, help with carpooling, when I see you at the pre-trip meeting on Saturday June 18 9am in Cabrillo College room 705.






Saturday June 18 9am-~11:30am Room 705 on campus. Pre-trip meeting, logistics, liability waivers signed, pay vouchers, distribute maps, give time for carpool arranging. Lecture on solar system and star formation, planetarium demonstration.

Friday June 24 - Arrive as soon as you can I will be getting there in the afternoon, but no penalty if you get there later. I know some of you have to work. Darkness doesn't start till 9:20pm, when we'll show you Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars which are are all perfectly placed in the evening sky. Then explore the star clusters, nebulae, and other denizens of the Summer Milky Way

Saturday June 25 - 8am: We start with my famous French Crepes breakfast. After breakfast and clean up, we'll take a hike and explain the physical processes that shape planets, with the Sierra to help as an example on our own planet. We'll pause at various locations on our hike and give "micro-lectures" on the evolution of the planets and why the inner planets differ so much in their features. After breakfast, I'll be giving a handout which describes the heat and cooling rates of planets, how plates and volcanics differ between the inner planets, and other aspects of planetary morphology relating to heat of formation and cooling rates; for the moon, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

6/24: Saturday afternoon - Short hike to Summit Lake. Talk about stellar evolution.

6:25: Saturday evening - 5pm Dinner (my special Asia Rice recipe, with fresh veges and spices, and salad) and astro conversation

6:25: Saturday evening - 9pm till midnight; telescope explorations and lectures on stellar evolution, with examples in the night sky. Binary stars, black holes, and then galaxies, galaxy evolution, our own Milky Way as seen from the inside, and campfire lecture on cosmology and the origin of the Universe. We'll have monster telescopes up to 25" in diameter from a panoramic vista near Curtz Lake to examine the summer Milky Way and galaxies of the Spring sky.

6:26: Sunday morning - 8am breakfast of pan-fried veges and potatoes in a rich olive oil spice mixture. Lecture on the sun, a short hike to the lake for a final talk on cosmology, return to camp, distrubute take-home final exams, Bid farewell by noon.

7/9: Saturday 7-8pm in room 705 - final exam submission (can also snail-mail the final, or leave in the envelope outside my office door).

Office Hours:
Sat June 18 3-5pm in my office
Sat June 25 3-5pm at the campsite, during our “off” time
Tue June 28 4-6pm at Cabrillo Observatory on campus
Tue July 5 4-6pm at Cabrillo Observatory on campus


The drive to our campsite is 230 miles, and about 4 hr 30 minute drive time from Cabrillo. Take Hwy 17 up Livermore, east on I-580 to Stockton, then offramp to Hwy 88, and stay on 88 till near Jackson and Hwy 49, north a little dogleg to get onto Hwy 104 up to Kirkwood Ski Area and onward over the pass to Hwy 89 at Woofords, south a few miles to the funky road to the airport and there you are, on our little map to the Indian Creek Reservoir. The maps showing our route are here, and will be given to you as printed sheets at our pre-trip meeting June 18.. Map1, Map2, Map3, IndianCrk Map

Study Materials, Final Exam

* Textbook is "The Cosmic Perspective" by Bennett et al. If you want to buy, get it from a cheap textbook outlet online. Don't pay $100 full price! Any edition will do. Or, just use the web since your exam will be take-home and you'll have over a week to do it. Google is great for finding answers! Your final exam will be handed out at the end of the camping lectures, on Sunday at noon or so. Please read the instructions and make sure you print by computer your essay question responses, and staple those to the hardcopy of the final, with your multiple choice answers circled.!


Your course grade will be determined by your active participation work ethic, curiosity, any lab exercises and question sessions at the telescopes, demonstrated at each of the meetings and lectures during our hikes (30%) and then by the quality of your final exam (70%). Your scores for these will be placed on the following scale:
85%+.................. A
75%-85% .......... B
65%-75%........... C
55%-65%........... D
less than 55%.... F

If you want to take the class "Pass/No Pass", that's fine. Just say so in writing on your final exam at the top.

* In-Class PowerPoint

* Camping checklist

  1. Evaluate the general structure and evolution of planets, stars and stellar systems, including our Milky Way Galaxy.
  2. Evaluate the connections between nucleosynthesis in stars and the chemical composition of Earth and the other planets and the general processes that shape them.
  3. Take and interpret visual telescopic and instrumental scientific observations, and estimate and quantify error sources.

Students with disabilities:

Students needing accommodations should inform the instructor. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accommodations are provided to insure equal access for students with verified disabilities. To determine if you qualify or need assistance with an accommodation, please contact ACCESSIBILITY SUPPORT CENTER (Formerly DSPS), Room 1073, (831) 479-6379.