Astronomy midterm question: Orion, day after Thanksgiving?

Astronomy 210 Midterm 1, fall semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Shown at right is a comic strip[*] printed on November 23, 2007 (the day after Thanksgiving). Discuss a plausible time for an observer in San Luis Obispo, CA to see the constellation Orion in the night sky on this date, or discuss why this comic strip is not plausible. Defend your answer by clearly explaining how you used your starwheel to do this, along with any assumptions that you may have made.

[*] Mark Parisi, Off the Mark, United Feature Syndicate, Inc., November 23, 2007, 

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Clearly explains that Orion's belt is visible on November 23 from 8 PM to 8 AM, which would make it visible throughout the entire night (most likely while highest overhead near 1 AM, as the observers are lying down looking upwards), making this comic strip plausible.
  • r = 16/20:
    Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
  • t = 12/20:
    Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors.
  • v = 8/20:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
Grading distribution:
Section 70160
p: 33 students
r: 1 student
t: 3 students
v: 3 students
x: 0 students
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 2421):

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