Astronomy 217 Syllabus

Fall 2021, Prof. Andrew W. Steiner
MWF 11:45am-12:35pm; Lab 1 T 7:40pm-9:40pm; Lab 2 W 7:40pm-9:40pm

Changes after Aug. 18th will be announced in class. Masks are required for class.

Course Materials

Textbook (required): Foundations of Astrophysics by Ryden and Peterson

Note also that we will do some python exercises in class, and those will be easiest if you have access to a tablet or laptop. Please let me know if you do not have access to either of those so I can make alternate arrangements for you.

Contacting Me

My office hours are scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30am. I am in South College room 103. If you come during that time, you do not need to make an appointment. If you cannot make that time, please email me and we will set up an appointment, but please do this 48 hours in advance if possible. You may also email me at any time, but it may take me up to 48 hours to respond. When emailing me, please start the subject line with A217.


Homeworks will be due on Fridays at 5pm. If it is returned by Saturday 5pm it will be graded for 80% of the full credit. If it is returned by Sunday at 5pm, it will be returned for 60% of the full credit. Homeworks returned later than Sunday 5pm will receive no credit. This first homework is due on August 27th.


The lab TA is TBA, and the astronomy lab web page is here.


Homework 12.5% (lowest two scores dropped), in-class group/Python work 12.5% (lowest two scores dropped), lab work 25%, two in-class exams 12.5% each, final 25%.


Lectures will be posted here after they are presented. Most, but not all, of the material required for the exams will appear on the slides.


I will use Canvas for this course. This link should take you directly there.


Exams will be on Sep. 29th and Oct 27th. Final as scheduled. If you are unable to attend an exam, notify me a week before the exam is scheduled.


  1. Early and modern astronomy
  2. Celestial and orbital mechanics
  3. The solar system
  4. Light, radiation, and matter
  5. The planets

Disability Statement

Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Student Disability Services (SDS) at 865-974-6087 in 100 Dunford Hall to document their eligibility for services. Student Disability Services will work with students and faculty to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

University Syllabus

See the UTK University syllabus here.

COVID-19 Guidelines

With the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks in classrooms, labs, and for indoor academic events required for students such as orientation. This requirement will remain in place until conditions improve and the university communicates new instructions.

The university strongly recommends that all members of the campus community be vaccinated for their own protection, to prevent disruption to the semester, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination information and appointment signups are available at The Student Health Center medical staff is available to students to answer questions or discuss concerns about vaccines, and the center provides vaccines free of charge for anyone 18 years or older who would like one.

If you think you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact the Student Health Center or your preferred health care provider. You can also contact the university’s COVID-19 support team for guidance by filling out the COVID-19 self-isolation form at

You must not attend class if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the isolation period, if you have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been cleared by a medical provider, or if you are an unvaccinated close contact in the quarantine period.

If you need to miss class for illness, email Prof. Steiner as soon as you can, preferably before the class is held.

You can find more information and updates at