SCIE 634
The New Solar System

William Herbst

Course Schedule
Week 1 Introduction, The Planets, Planetary Motions
Week 2 Basics: Orbits, Gravity, Elements, Molecules, Reactions
Week 3 The Sun and Overview of the Solar System
Chapters 1 and 3
Week 4 Terrestrial Planets (Guest Lecturer: Professor Martha Gilmore)
Chapters 12 and 13
Week 5 Jovian Planets
Chapters 14 and 15


Week 6 Asteroids/Meteorites/Collisions/Cratering (Guest Lecturer: Professor James Greenwood)
Chapters, 6, 25 and 26


Week 7 Moons and Rings
Chapters 16 and 17
Week 8 Comets, KBOs and Plutinos
Chapters 25
Week 9 Star and Planet Formation
Chapter 2


Week 10 Life in the Universe, SETI and Future Work
Chapter 27
Week 12 Exo-Solar Planetary Systems
Chapter 28
Paper: 50%
Oral Presentation: 30%
Attendance: 10%
Outline & Topic Selection: 10%
Topic Selection Guidelines:

Please select a narrowly focused topic of current interest which you find appealing. It must relate to our Solar System or something in it, exo-solar systems, SETI, life in the Universe, Spacecraft missions related to the study of our solar system or others or something else central to this course. A good way to get ideas is to look at current periodicals such as Sky & Telescope, Astronomy magazine, Scientific American, etc. or Web sites covering astronomical or planetary science news. Avoid topics dealing too directly with the Earth --- they are more in the realm of geology than planetary science. Also avoid broad, diffuse topics such as “SETI” or “Comets”. You need something much more focused. We will discuss topic selection more in class and ask Prof. Herbst if you have questions. Preliminary topic selection proposals are due Feb. 22. Topic selection should be finalized before the beginning of Spring Break. Timely and appropriate selection of a topic counts positively towards your grade.

Talk Guidelines:

Talks must fit within a 15 minute time allotment, including 5 minutes for questions and answers. The only way to do this is to PRACTICE! Handouts for your fellow students are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. You should bring a sheet or two that includes the main ideas, the main references, and possibly some appropriate figures. If you cannot easily reproduce these handouts (i.e. Xerox them) for the whole class then bring them prior to the class at which you are speaking and we will help with reproducing them. Remember that the aim of the talks is to communicate to your fellow students (i.e. at their level) not at a professional level.

Use of visuals such as PowerPoint slides or Web site images or Overhead transparencies or models is highly recommended and will contribute greatly to getting across your ideas clearly and succinctly. If you plan to use computer presentations such as Power Point be sure to try them out before the day of your presentation. Prof. Herbst will discuss ways in which you can load your presentations onto our classroom computer. It is also possible to bring your own laptop for the presentation.

Paper Guidelines:

The paper must be double-spaced with a 12-pt font and standard margins. It should be approximately 10 pages in length, including a bibliography of cited references. You may use any standard citation notation and you may cite Web sites by URL. You should reference each cited article at least once within the text of your paper. All ideas obtained primarily from a particular source should be referenced. You may use footnotes or standard scientific citation notation. You may include figures with the paper. The paper must be handed in on or before the last day of class.