ani_phases.gif (93875 bytes) Astronomy
Physics at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University, Corner Brook, NL
Astronomers Witout Borders


Earth Science 2150: The Solar System

Physics Info

B.Sc. in Physics

   Physics 1020
  Physics 1021
  Physics 1050
  Physics 1051
  Physics 2053
  Physics 2056
  Physics 2151
  Physics 2400
  Physics 2553
  Physics 2820
  Physics 3060
  Physics 3160
  Physics 3180
  Physics 3220
  Physics 3820
  ES 2150

Astronomy Links

Physics Links


Grenfell home

Mars landscapeThis course will not be offered in 2013/14.

This is a very exciting time for the exploration of the solar system! Already we have returned samples of comet-stuff and landed a probe on Saturn’s smoggy moon, Titan. One robotic explorer continues to study the surface of Mars, more than nine years after landing, and a bigger and better one is almost there. We have spacecraft in orbit around sun-baked Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Saturn, and the main-belt asteroid Vesta. Others are on their way to Jupiter and distant Pluto. There's never been a better time to consider a course in the ultimate "environmental science" - planetary astronomy!

This course requires no previous astronomy or physics background. The only math used is some geometry and algebra, but no calculus. The emphasis is on giving you an introduction to the structure, origin, and evolution of the many worlds in our solar system.  And, you’ll have the unique opportunity to use the 0.6-m telescope of the Grenfell Campus Observatory as part of your coursework!

We will not describe the planets one by one. Instead, you’ll learn about processes such as the origin of planets and the evolution of their surfaces. By mastering a few basic concepts from several different fields, you will be able to understand a remarkable variety of processes that affect the planets, including the Earth. What will this give you? A knowledge of how planets evolve, of what governs their crustal structure and their surfaces, and of the nearly limitless resources of material and energy that lie within our reach - knowledge that can help us live more successfully on and off the Earth.


Dr. Douglas Forbes
Office: AS 3028 (new building)
Phone: 637-6295
E-Mail: dforbes at grenfell dot mun dot ca


Moons and Planets (5th Edition), by William K. Hartmann

Grenfell Campus Observatory: 

There will be opportunities to use the Observatory's main 0.6m instrument to view the moon and some of the planets and also to use our small solar telescope to safely observe the Sun.   More information will be given in class.

Marking Scheme   Quiz Dates: TBA









 Final Exam



100 %


Due Date


 Exercise 1

Orbit of Mercury


 Exercise 2

Lunar Topography


 Exercise 3

Impacts I - D.I.Y. Cratering


 Exercise 4

Impacts II - The Asteroid Connection


 Exercise 5

Photo-Interpretation of the Moon


Lunar photos

 Exercise 6

Surfaces of the Galilean Satellites


Course Topics & Chapters from text:

  Introduction and overview

Chapters 1, 2

Week 1

  Celestial mechanics

Chapter 3

Week 2

  Star formation

Chapter 4

Week 3

  Planet formation

Chapter 5

Week 4

  Planetary building blocks

Chapter 6, 7

Week 5 & 6

  Planetary interiors

Chapter 8

Week 7

  Planetary surfaces

Chapter 9, 10

Week 8 & 9


Chapter 11

Week 10

  Mars - a case study

Chapter 13

Week 11 & 12

Outside Reading:

You will find a reasonably good selection of books on astronomy and related topics in the Grenfell library. The main astronomy titles are to be found in the QB section. Some related titles will be found in the neighbouring physics and earth sciences stacks. There are also some astronomy titles in the QB section of the reference stacks - most of the star atlases are kept there. The Campus library also carries periodicals such as Sky and Telescope, Scientific American, New Scientist, among others, which often feature articles and up-to-date- reports on astronomy.  All three of these magazines have excellent web sites, updated daily.

Also see The Bookshelf page, elsewhere in the Physics site.

Astronomy on the Web:

There are many, many astronomy sites on the Internet and extensive information in Wikipedia. A short list of astronomy links can be found within this web site.


The web's best one-stop shopping for the latest news in astronomy and astronomy-related features. Plus blogs, video podcasts, audio podcasts, images, and videos.


History Pages:

400th Anniversary of the Telescope
Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630)
Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)
Nicholas Copernicus (1473 - 1543)

Planet and Moon Exploration Pages:

ESA Venus Express
Lunar rover from Apollo 15 Moon
Evolution of the Moon - Excelent video from NASA/Goddard
Lunar Picture of the Day
Gateway to the Moon
USGC Astrogeology - Apollo Mission Media Gallery
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Apollo Lunar Surface Journal
A good Moon map
Mars Express
Phoenix Mars Lander
Mars Exploration Rovers JPL's links to science, images, and info on Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit.
Mars Science Laboratory the newest and largest Mars robotic explorer - Curiosity
Galileo Home Page Results from the 1989 - 2004 mission to Jupiter
Juno probe to Jupiter
Saturn from Cassini, rings edge-onSaturn
Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan
Uranus & Neptune
Pluto and Kuiper Belt
Why Pluto is No Longer Considered a Planet
New Horizons probe
Asteroids, Meteorites, Comets, etc.
Dawn Space Probe mission to Ceres and Vesta
Deep Impact to Comet Tempel 1
NEAR Mission to asteroid 433 Eros

EuropaGeneral Solar System:

  Hit Counter
Last update: 24 July, 2013

Questions or Comments?  physics_webmaster