Astronomy midterm question: moon outside restaurant at 8:22 PM?

Astronomy 210 Midterm 1, fall semester 2011
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

[20 points.] Shown at right is a scene outside a restaurant(*) from a reality TV show. Discuss whether this view of the sky, and time is plausible or not plausible. Support your answer using a diagram showing the positions of the sun, moon, Earth, and an observer on Earth.

*Source: "Hell's Kitchen," ITV Studios, 2005-2011.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p = 20/20:
    Correct. Identifies moon as either third quarter or waning gibbous, which would be visible only between 12 AM and 12 PM, or 9 PM to 9 AM respectively, making this scene (with the moon high overhead) impossible.
  • 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. Problems with either diagram or discussion, but demonstrates understanding of rise/set times and phases. (Typically misidentifies phase, but following rise/set visibility argument consistent with phase, etc.)
  • v = 8/20:
    Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner. Substantive discussion, but missing/problematic diagram.
  • x = 4/20:
    Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit. Problematic discussion, diagrams with the moon orbiting the sun, etc.
  • y = 2/20:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z = 0/20:
Grading distribution:
Section 70158
Exam code: midterm01nH3d
p: 19 students
r: 3 students
t: 5 students
v: 2 students
x: 1 student
y: 0 students
z: 0 students

A sample "p" response (from student 1027):
A sample "p" response (from student 0605):
A sample "p" response (from student 1212):
A sample "p" response (from student 1010):

No comments: