Lesson 1) An Introduction

My name is Professor Brad Turing, and I will be your astronomy professor for your first two years of astronomy at Hogwarts.   Professor Gagarina has kindly asked that I assist her in instructing new astronomy students and as teaching is a passion of mine, I obliged.  I am from Fairbanks, Alaska - hence my American accent and my slight differences in grammar and syntax - and where I grew up, I was frequently able to see the beautiful Northern Lights. After majoring in History at an English Muggle University, I returned to Alaska to find a job. Years later, I found myself working as a custodian in an Alaskan planetarium. I went back to school to study astronomy and eventually earned my master’s degree in Cosmology from a Wizarding institution of higher learning.

Introduction

From the first astronomy class that I have taken - the general astronomy class for students of all majors - to the last class I have taken for my master’s degree, so much has changed in terms of our knowledge of the universe. For example, one of my Muggle astronomer friends told me that now that New Horizons, one of NASA’s space probes, has provided Muggles with high-resolution images of Pluto, his newly published astronomy textbook is now out of date. Both Magical and Muggle astronomy are fields in which new discoveries are made every week. Orrery, the premier academic journal for cutting-edge research in Wizarding astronomy, is publishing weekly issues full of new astronomical discoveries.

Let’s talk about the field itself. Astronomers define “astronomy” as the study of the universe. Both Muggles and Magical People consider topics such as observing celestial bodies (moons, planets, stars, and the like) in outer space, theorizing about how objects in outer space have been formed, and deducing the chemical makeup of these outer space objects as part of astronomy.

However, while Magical and Muggle astronomy are related subjects, they do not completely overlap. Some may think that Muggle astronomy is identical to Magical astronomy, but without the Magical knowledge. However, the differences between the two are more subtle than that. For example, astrology - the study of how the happenings in outer space magically influence the happenings of people on Earth - is a major subfield of Magical astronomy. However, calling a Muggle astronomer’s field of study “astrology” will quickly result in one very angry Muggle. 

In addition, astronomy is a field in which Muggles have certain advantages. For example, Muggles are excellent at observational and theoretical astronomy. Observational astronomy focuses on finding objects in space, whether it’s by visual observation or by “seeing” the object through analyzing data collected from space. Theoretical astronomy focuses on applying Muggle technology and Muggle astronomy concepts to a model in order to answer a question about the universe. In the field of astronomy, Muggles tend to make most of the observational discoveries and propose most of the theoretical concepts. Magical astronomers often subscribe to Muggle astronomy publications or attend Muggle astronomy institutions to get cutting-edge knowledge of observational and theoretical astronomy.

That being said, Magical astronomers excel at applied astronomy. Many Muggles do not see astronomy as relevant to their lives other than as pretty decorations in the sky. They marvel at lunar eclipses, take pictures of the sunrise, and count the shooting stars dashing across an inky black background with their best friends. The more committed amateur Muggle astronomers may point their own telescope at the night sky and seek out known astronomical objects - or find some on their own. In contrast, Magical People are often concerned about - and knowledgeable about - the affairs of outer space because they directly affect magical life on Earth. Magical people know that, for example, the arrangement of the stars can predict the future and that the exposure of Basilisk eggs to moonlight could result in the early arrival of a deadly serpent. In fact, Magical astronomy is called “The Central Discipline” because of its application to every other magical subject. In other words, Magical astronomy connects all magical fields of study.

Astronomy is truly a subject that connects many magical fields of study. The walls that separate disciplines from each other are restrictive, and the more that we can break them down, the more we can appreciate Magical learning as a whole. Magical astronomy will help you not only learn more about the magic that affects you in everyday life, but it will also help you to think in a more interdisciplinary way. No matter what your thoughts on Muggle astronomy, I encourage you to join me in learning about the magic beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. I will not disappoint.


How to Earn an “O” in My Class


Astronomy Tower observation deck.
Source: Pottermore

I would love it if every Year 1 student left the class with an “Outstanding” grade. It puts a smile on my face to see students doing so well in their first year at Hogwarts. However, “O” grades are not given freely - they must be earned. The good news? Every student in Year 1 has the ability to earn an “O”. Follow these steps, and you will have your “O” in no time.

Step 1: Come to Class Prepared

First Year Astronomy is at 10pm on Wednesdays in the Astronomy Tower. In the recent past, the class began at midnight, but in order to ensure that you will have enough sleep for the following day’s class, Astronomy has been moved to 10pm. When you are in class, be prepared to take notes. Each class, you will bring two types of quills - standard quills for notetaking and anti-cheating quills for quizzes, exams, and essays.

There will be no textbook for Astronomy this year. In this course, you will be expected to utilize the von Rheticus model telescope; you are encouraged to obtain one of your own, particularly if you plan to study Astronomy at a deeper level, but for the time being you may use the models provided by the school. It is new this year, and it is superior to the brass telescopes that you may have received in previous years. 

I notice that a few of you brought Boxing Telescopes. Please do not bring them to Astronomy class. I do enjoy a good prank, but pranks belong outside of class.

Step 2: Study Your Notes, and Ask For Help if Needed

Once you have listened to the lecture, take the time to read over your notes. If you have a question about the content, please ask either the course administrator, Professor Gagarina one of my Professor Assistants (PAs).  You can also contact Professor Gagarina on the Facebook here or email her at mdgagarina.swi@gmail.com . You may ask my PAs any questions relating to this class.

One word of note: Please treat my PAs with the same respect that you would treat me. My PAs are students like you who volunteer their time - their most precious resource - to help me ensure that I am serving the students at Hogwarts in the best way possible. Rudeness towards my PAs will not be tolerated.

Step 3: Do All Required Assignments

Each lesson will have one or more required assignments. The assignments for each class are listed in the top right section of each lecture. Assignments without the words “Extra Credit” by their names are mandatory. Mandatory assignments are due at the beginning of the next class period.

I want you to do well on each assignment. Please take your time with each assignment, as none of these assignments are timed. If you took your own notes, you may use them to do any assignment. However, I cannot let you into class if you did not complete the required assignments for the previous week, so please complete the assignment(s) before coming to the next class.

There are two types of assignments for this class - objective assignments and essay assignments. For your convenience, each assignment will be marked with a symbol to inform you of its type. Some assignments will have rubrics. These are hints on how to get the best grade possible. Follow them.

Objective Assignments
There are three types of objective assignments - multiple choice, true/false, and short answer. Multiple choice and true/false are automatically graded, while short answers are graded by my PAs. All answers can be found in the lesson, so feel free to refer back to the lesson during the exam if needed. Please ensure that your answers are correct before submitting them, as we cannot give you points back for mismarked or mistyped answers.

Essay Assignments
Everything that you need to know is in the rubric of each assignment. In general, we will be grading your response on whether or not you answer the question. Presentation counts as well - please use correct spelling and grammar. Please note that essays and short answers may only be submitted in English. PAs will be grading your essays, so please be patient. Please note that there are no required essays in Year 1 Astronomy.

To facilitate essay grading, please mark the following:
- If you are non-native English speaker, please write “NES” on top of your essay.
- If you have a learning disability, please write “LD” on top of your essay.
- If you are retaking an essay, please write R on top of your essay.

Please note that whether you mark your essay as NES, LD, or R, I expect you to complete your essay to the best of your ability. These markings are not needed for short answers.

No matter what form an assignment takes, you are expected to do your own work. For SA assignments, copying directly from my lesson and/or other sources (including Muggle sources and friends’ papers) is plagiarism and will result in the individual SA marked as incorrect. For essay assignments, copying directly from my lesson and/or other sources will result in a 1% for the assignment. Please do not tempt fate by plagiarizing from others; your anti-cheating quill, which is this year’s latest model, may allow you to cheat, but it will also turn your writing red so that I know to mark your assignment with a 1%. 

Your term grade for Astronomy is calculated from the average of all required assignments. In order to get an “O”, you will need to earn a 90%-100% average in the class. You will earn Exceeds Expectations, or “E”, for a 80%-89% grade, and you will earn Acceptable, or “A”, for a 70%-79% grade. In order to qualify for Year 2, you will need to earn at least 70% or an “A” in each core class, including Astronomy. 

Since you will be attending all classes, completing all assignments with your own work, following all rubrics, and asking for help if needed, I expect everyone to pass this class. If you do not think you can pass this class, please contact me. I can help you. My PAs can help you as well.

Step 4: Improve Your Grade

Once you have received your graded assignment, you can still take steps to improve your class grade. First, look at the assignment and try to figure out what you did wrong. If you do not know what you did wrong, please contact a PA.

If there is an error in the grading, you may submit an appeal. If you scored below an 84%, you may appeal your grade through your gradebook To do this, click the “gradebook” button on the right side of the screen and then click the “appeal” button. You can also owl me or my head students to appeal a grade; you do not need an 84% or less to do so. When submitting an appeal, please be polite, and please explain why you believe your answer is correct. When owling me, please include the review link to your assignment.

Assignments marked as “retake as desired” in the gradebook are retakable assignments. Please retake the assignment as many times as you want in order to get the grade that you want. Retakable assignments will only appear in the first two lessons of Year 1, so please retake your essays as many times as you need to in order for you to practice getting good grades.

Step 5: Take Your Knowledge of Astronomy to the Next Level (Optional)

Assignments with the words Extra Credit next to the assignment title are extra credit assignments. While these assignments will not improve your class average, they will help you learn the concepts in the lessons. They will also give you extra points for your house, and many of them are designed to be fun. 

Most of the extra credit assignments are essays. While there are no required essays in Y1, doing the essays now will help you learn the skills needed to do well in future years’ essays. Furthermore, if you choose to apply to be a PA, doing well in Astronomy essays will improve your application - completing essays well shows me not only that you are committed to this class but also that you understand the topics in this class. 

Assignments marked with [MS] are a special type of extra credit assignment. They are monthly special assignments - the content of the assignment changes every month. Feel free to do the assignment each month, or feel free to skip a few months if you want. Monthly special assignments are always extra credit assignments. You can find them in Lesson 9 of each year.

Perhaps you love Astronomy class so much that you want to help other students with the class. If so, I encourage you to apply to be a PA. When PA applications are open, I will make posts in the feed. Please feel free to send me a friend request. Keep in mind that I am looking for those who truly want to be on the team - please do not apply just for the title. If you are rejected but still want to be part of the team, please feel free to apply again.


Year 1 Preview


The Moon, Seen from the International Space Station
Source: NASA

This year, we will be learning about magical telescopes as well as the different properties that affect how much magic the Moon and other astronomical objects reflect back to the Earth. We will also be looking at the Moon’s phases with our telescopes, and we will be discussing other planets and their properties. Overall, it will be a fun class, and I am so glad that you will be joining me this term.

Thank you again for coming to class on a Wednesday night. Do not worry - future lessons this year will not be as long. I will leave you with homework assignments. Please complete them for next class.

Class is dismissed. See you next week.

Ever wonder what is beyond this Earth? Yes, the night sky may be beautiful, but knowledge of the heavens will also help you become a better witch or wizard. In Year One, you will observe the skies with a magical telescope, learn about our solar system neighbors, and discover how magic reflected off astronomical objects can affect us all on Earth. Come join us in Astronomy 101 - it’s an out of this world adventure!

NOTE - This course will soon be undergoing rewrites. Stay tuned!
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