Online reading assignment: spectra, Doppler shift, apparent/absolute magnitude, parallax (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2012
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments.  Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect.  Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on different types of spectra, the Doppler shift, and determining absolute magnitude of stars, given apparent magnitude and distance (from parallax).

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"Police radar guns use the Doppler effect when measuring the speed of cars."

"The Doppler effect was pretty sweet.  Explaining how sound can be higher pitched or lower based on if the source is passing you or such, because the wavelength changes on how the source is moving."

"If light did not interact with matter we would not see things, or in fact exist at all."

"The way astronomers use triangulation to find distances of stars because it is a simple method of finding range that has been applied to a much larger scale."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The spectra nonsense went a little over my head.  I don't get the differences between emission lines and absorption lines."

"Absolute magnitude and apparent magnitude confused me, I don't understand their measures."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment.  Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"How long will our midterm be?  How do I study for the midterm?" (The midterm study guide is now posted online).

"It is a little difficult reading and studying things that aren't going to be on the quiz while also trying to focus on the materials that will be on the next quiz." (Yes, but getting some lead time on the new material is still better than learning material that will immediately be on the quiz in the following class.)

"How important is it to know names of specific satellites and the date they were launched?" (Absolutely unimportant.  Always keep in mind that the emphasis of this course is on the application of astronomy concepts, rather than the rote memorization of facts and figures.)

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