Welcome to the course webpage for ASTR 115: Introduction to Astronomy.

Class Announcements:

2014-12-03: Lectures 25 and 26 have been merged together which is why they both link to the same PDF document.

2014-11-19: I will be giving a public talk about exoplanets at the College of San Mateo on Friday November 5th at 8pm. You can find more details here.

2014-11-08: Remember that there will be no class on Tuesday, November 11 (Veterans Day).

2014-10-07: In case of cloud, there will be several sites offering a live stream of the lunar eclipse tonight, including one by NASA and another by Slooh.

2014-08-28: If you're having any issues with Mastering Astronomy then please contact Mackenzie Killion at Pearson (mackenzie.killion@pearson.com). The course ID is kane86802 and is case-sensitive.

2014-08-18: Class announcements will appear here periodically.

Contact details:

  • Instructor: Stephen Kane
  • Office: TH 309
  • Office hours: Wednesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm
  • Phone: 415-338-2451
  • Email: skane@sfsu.edu (write ASTR 115 in subject)

Download the class syllabus here.

Class times:

  • Tuesday, 11:00am-12:15am Sci 201
  • Thursday, 11:00am-12:15am Sci 201


  • The Essential Cosmic Perspective, 7th edition
  • Mastering Astronomy instructions (DOC, PDF)

Lectures: (numbers in parentheses are relevant chapters from the textbook)

Important Dates:

  • September 8: Last day to drop without a W
  • September 22: Last day to add by exception
  • September 25: FIRST MID-TERM EXAM
  • October 30: SECOND MID-TERM EXAM
  • November 24-28: Thanksgiving Break (No class)
  • December 11: Last class meeting
  • December 18: FINAL EXAM 10:45am-1:15pm in Sci 201


  • Homework (40%): Homework will be completed online using the Mastering Astronomy website. The homeworks will be approximately every week due on Thursday evening.
  • Mid-Term Exams (30%): There will be two mid-term exams, each worth 15%. The first mid-term will cover the first third of the course material and the second will cover the second third of the course material. All exams will be closed book and closed notes, and primarily multiple-choice questions. You will need a #2 pencil and an 882-E Scantron form for each exam, and you are allowed a calculator.
  • Final Exam (45%): The final exam consists of three parts: each worth 15% and covering one third of the course material. The lowest score from the two mid-terms and the three parts of the final exam will be dropped. Thus the total for the mid-terms and the final exam constitutes 60% of the total grade.

Final Grades:

  • A = 90% to 100%
  • B = 77% to 89%
  • C = 65% to 76%
  • D = 50% to 64%
  • F = below 50%