"If anyone ever asks you if you believe in

evolution, tell them no.  You should not be

taking evolution on faith.  Tell them you do

have confidence in evolution based upon

verifiable evidence drawn from reality.

Dr. Dale Fields
 
Professor of
Astronomy
FieldsDL@piercecollege.edu
Office: 91040 Center for the Sciences
(and Department Chair)
Office Hours
 
My Come See Me Hours are: Monday: 3:30pm-5:30pm (in the Center for Academic Success), Tuesday 5:30pm-6:30pm (in the planetarium classroom CFS9 2044), Thursday from 11:00am-1:00pm (in the Center for Academic Success) and Thursday from 5:55pm-6:55pm (in the astronomy lab room CFS9 2047).

The two telescope nights this semester will be February 22nd (a Thursday) and May 21st (a Monday).  They will last from sunset-ish until people get cold and tired (10:30pm-ish?).  The weather gods keep messing with us, but we'll reschedule if there is a problem.  The planetarium shows inside will be March 19th (a Monday) from 6pm-8pm and April 13th (a Friday) from 5pm-7pm.  All are welcome to attend all of these (friends and family, and folks of all ages).

We also have six astronomy tutors! Our head astronomy tutor is Leetal Cohen who is available Monday and Wednesday 3:30pm-5:30pm.  Her e-mail is astroncohen@gmail.com
.  We also have Joshua Becker and he is available Wednesday 5:30pm-7:00pm, Thursday 1:00pm-5:30pm, and Friday 10:00am-2:00pm.  His e-mail is astronomyjosh@gmail.com.  We have Ryan Kellis who is available Tuesday 11:00am-12:30pm and whose e-mail is
 ryan.sidereusnuncius@gmail.com.  We also have Mars Stober available Monday and Wednesday 2:00pm-3:30pm, and Tuesday 12:30pm-1:30pm and she can be reached at marsstober00135@gmail.com.  We have Michael Kouyoumdjian available Monday and Wednesday 11:00am-12:30pm, and Tuesday 1:30pm-5:30pm and his e-mail is MKAstronomy@gmail.com.  And finally we have Addie Abukasis who will be primary serving in classrooms but can also be contacted at astronomytutoraddie@gmail.com.

Or, if it would be easier to see when any person is available at the Center for Academic Success, we have: Monday: 11am-5:30pm, Tuesday: 11am-5:30pm (and 5:30pm-6:30pm in CFS9 2044), Wednesday: 11am-7pm, Thursday: 11am-5:30pm (and 6pm-7pm in CFS9 2047), and Friday 10am-2pm.

I'd also like to put in a link here for our undocumented students at Pierce.  Know that you are supported and welcome here at Pierce College.

2018 03 22 09:11 - Best wishes at the study sessions!  I have also put up all the classes' tips on recognizing and dealing with confusion so do please check those out.

2018 03 19 08:33 - I've got access to Pierce again!  The study sessions I have listed for the midterm this week are: Wednesday 2pm-3:30pm, Thursday from 2pm-4pm, and unofficially Friday the whole time (10am-2pm).  A reminder, here is a link to the facebook group.

2018 02 19 16:05 - Big deal right here!  If you'd like to form and participate in a study group, then please follow this doodle poll!

2018 02 13 23:37 - My first update!  Do ask to join the facebook group because it can be a great place to figure out study groups and so forth.

Greetings.  Welcome to Astronomy here at Pierce College.  The word "welcome" is especially important because we here at the Los Angeles Community College District strongly mean it.  That link is to a statement given at the end of last year.  Know that you are supported.  If you are here for Astronomy documents, you can find all of the documents and other files for these courses by clicking on the course name in the upper left.  All documents will be given in pdf format so as to remain as platform-independent as possible (in other words, it shouldn't matter if you are trying to access the website from a PC, a Mac, or a *nix box).  The purpose of this website is to be a hub for astronomy resources.  You are not required to visit every single site I link to from here, but if you'd like to know more about the Universe, this is a good place to start.  The thing is, there are so many astronomy resources out there, I don't know them all, so if you find something that is cool and you'd like to share it with the class, then please send it to me and I'll post it.  I'd like to have as many different kinds of resources available (text, pictures, video) because everyone learns differently and I would like to help you learn.  There are a couple of links I'd like you to see.  The first two are the links to the facebook groups: the one where you can network and ask questions, Pierce College Astronomy 1 Spring 2018, and the one for more fun Pierce College Astronomy Club.  The next is a statement put out by the American Astronomical Society which is the professional society of astronomers (much like the AMA is what doctors join and the ABA is what lawyers join).  I'd like you to know that astronomers value everyone, just like Pierce College does.

You might have seen the website as it was at the end of the previous semester, and I do tend to run it blog-style just by typing in updates to this area.  Newest posts at the top, oldest on the bottom.  I expect to have an update about once a week.

Video Resources: You may not know all of the astronomy/science related stuff that shows up on YouTube.  I haven't been a big YouTube guy, but many of my colleagues are.  Some possibilities are to look for
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (with Richard Feynman), Cosmos (with Carl Sagan), as well as stuff by Phil Plait (also known as the Bad Astronomer), biology material with the somewhat abrasive Richard Dawkins, or general science stuff with Michael Shermer.  Of course you could also go to YouTube for general science-y things like the music videos Golden Dawn and the  LHC Rap.  As of course Minute Physics.

Favorite Web Resources: The Astronomy Picture of the Day: (a.k.a. apod) which is one of the best places to go for general astronomy in my opinion.  It isn't organized, but you can just hit the archive and search for your topic.  Each day has both a pictures as well as paragraph written by a professional astronomer (with lots of links).  In addition, a trick I like is a feature of google which lets me find out what a term means just by typing in "define: whatever."  So let's say that I see the term "Dark Energy" and for some reason apod doesn't have a description or a link to it.  I could just go to google and type in define: Dark Energy and I would get definitions.  I know, I know, you could just type the term into google and the first link would be to the single greatest source of knowledge in human history, but this is less dangerous in terms of sucking your time away.  You might also find Level 5 of some help.  Warning: this source does go to an advanced level in some places.  The most useful portion to starting students will be the Glossary and Lexicon if you want to find definitions for all sorts of astronomy stuff.  The Commentaries section (and anything that has the word "Review" in the title) has useful essays on topics relating astronomy but browse through them to find the useful ones.  You might also follow WEB Links and then go down to Astronomy Education and Public Outreach.  Finally a good collector of science news online is through yahoo, so visit if you like.  And of course, we can't forget the NASA website.  Visit it.  And occasionally xkcd has really cool space-related charts, graphs, and visualizations.  One cannot claim to be a nerd without reading xkcd on a regular basis.  Warning, some content not approved for all audiences, but please check out the What If section.

Favorite TV Shows: The Universe which aired on the History Channel (and is sometimes available on the streaming side of Netflix).  It had six normal seasons then returned as the show The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved.  I think it is the best astronomy TV series in recent memory.  But giving it a run for its money is How the Universe Works whose third season was great and is still going strong as of the start of this semester.  And the COSMOS show was good too (feel free to look for the original with Carl Sagan).  The original was probably the greatest astronomy TV show in English.  But it was getting on in years so Carl Sagan's widow with some help from Seth McFarlane got it back on TV, this time hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.  I think it has made it to Netflix (and other locations online).  Other astronomy shows are Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe (a companion to his Wonders of the Solar System which has no great online links but this comes the closest).  Each nicely links into both halves of the semester.  I also like The Beginning and End of the Universe on netflix.  I would also recommend Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, but you should be aware that it is more on the edge of what we know.  If you are looking for a program to help you in the class with knowledge we covered then I would recommend Universe or Wonders.  But if you want to know about the mysteries and the things that astronomers are currently banging their heads into a wall about, then check out Wormhole.  However, my favorite science TV show has to be the geology program
How the Earth Was Made though in terms of current updates in science go to NOVA (including NOVA Science NOW) and Nature.  NOVA Science NOW is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson and they have had some really cool episodes a couple of years back.  And PBS is really good about uploading all their shows.  If you want to mix your science with other pleasures I recommend  Good Eats with Alton Brown .  I mean it.  It is good science.  Oh, and I certainly don't want to dis the Mythbusters.

If you'd like to help out scientists by having your computer do some work while you're not using it, you might want to download something from
BOINCComputer simulations take a lot of computer crunch to go through all the calculations.  The more complex the simulation, the more time to finish everything.  We need these simulations in order to figure out things like the consequences of global warming or how to make cancer fighting drugs, or even whether aliens are trying to talk to us.  Pick the project that is most interesting to you, and help them out because it would take years for these scientists to do all this work themselves.

Favorite Science Books: I would recommend (biology) Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, (astronomy) Phillip Plait's Death from the Skies!!!, (history) Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe, and (sociology) Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature.  For more biology I recommend Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish.  There is also the pretty book by Norman MacLeod: The Great Extinctions, though it is really for those who have already read a bit into evolution and ancient lifeforms (it doesn't define jargon very well).  A general science book that is better in the category of biology is also The Science of Discworld (authors of Stewart, Cohen, and Pratchett).  It is a decent intro to a lot of the sciences, but the scientist authors are a biologist and a mathematician and those sections are great.  But the non-life sciences are not nearly as good.  Somewhat related is medicine and my Dad is currently reading and liking Ben Goldacre's Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and and Big Pharma.  To help navigate what is quackery and what is fraudulent (there is a difference!) I recommend Carl Sagan (who also did astronomy)'s The Demon Haunted World, and Michael Shermer's The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense.  I recommend all of Michael Shermer's books (and he is the head of The Skeptics Society which is based down here in SoCal).  Neil deGrasse Tyson's The Pluto Files is good.  For those who would like to read more history, but not *realize* they are reading history, I have two recommendations.  The first is the Roma sub rosa books by Steven Saylor (the first is Roman Blood).  These are mysteries set in the days of ancient Rome.  The second is Harry Turtledove's Videssos books which are a series of "fantasy" novels but which repackage the history of the Byzantine Empire (he wrote three Videssos series; the titles of each starting book are The Misplaced Legion, Krispos Rising, and my favorite series opener The Stolen Throne).  Finally, for those interested in the study of mythology I would recommend Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces (which is a classic) as well as Barber & Barber's When They Severed Earth from Sky.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. " - John F. Kennedy, 1962

This is college.  Many things will be hard.  But if something is easily done, where is the success?  The task you face is not impossible, for there is no success in frustration.  What remains is the striving and the challenge, and the ability to say that you did well, not okay, not so-so, but well.

Hint With Big Flashing Neon Sign
 
If you don't take anything else I say seriously, please think about this: education is what you make of it, not what happens to you.  The number one way not to succeed in college is being a wallflower.  Coming to class, sitting quietly, never asking a question, never answering a question.  The people who raise their hands and give wrong answers do better (grade-wise!) in this class than those people who just sit there.  Please don't let life pass you by.  You have the ability to figure this stuff out.  Passively sitting there means college will not be successful for you.  Study groups are very useful in college, but only if you are a participant in them.  Learning doesn't happen to those who are present, it happens with those who go and do it.  There are lots of resources out to there to help everyone learn but they only show us the door.  It is up to each and every one of us to walk through it ourselves.