Online reading assignment: eclipses, history of astronomy (SLO campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2013
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 eclipses, and an preliminary overview of the history of astronomy.

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.
"The size of the sun relative to its distance to the moon is what causes the solar eclipse."

"I have always been fascinated by lunar and solar eclipses, but never knew which one was which and how they happen. Sometime last year I was at work and a lunar eclipse was evolving, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don't think I have ever seen a solar eclipse though."

"I thought it was cool that if you were on the moon during a lunar eclipse, you would see a solar eclipse with Earth blocking the sun."

"Galileo's true relationship with the telescope was really interesting because I had always been led to believe that he had invented it."

"That people actually believed that our universe was once geocentric."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Is confusion a result of the inability to comprehend information? Is comprehension truly capable of being assigned a limit? I do not feel confused, but with each new piece of information I intake, I find myself faced with more questions, which would like answers, but I do not allow myself to feel 'confused' in not knowing. Simply, ready for more knowledge, and belief."

"How could someone come up with the idea of a heliocentric universe so long ago?"

"Penumbra and umbra, I know what they mean, but how exactly could someone be in one of those two areas? Is there a penumbral zone that can be pointed out on a map?"

"How Ptolemy, Aristotle and Copernicus each came to their conclusions about the solar system."

"The different hypotheses are a little confusing for me--keeping straight which belonged to who and what each (geocentric, heliocentric) means."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I feel like during class I understand all the material. Then when I come home and read the book it is hard to understand the material. Even though the reading is short, it's boring. What should I do?" (As you read through the textbook at home, go through the remainder of the flashcard questions that are not covered in class. As a matter of policy, answers to flashcard questions are not published nor released, but I would be more than willing to discuss your responses to flashcard questions that were not used in class, during posted office hours or an arranged appointment, just before/after lecture, or via e-mail.)

"Will you teach us how to use a telescope so we can stargaze outside of class? Since our class is at night, will we be going outside at all to look at the sky?" (In laboratory we cover basic refractor telescopes, but for lecture we are scheduled to look through the main telescope in the Bowen Observatory upstairs this semester, weather permitting.)

"Do you believe that astrology is able to make accurate predictions about your future?" (No. But, then again, my horoscope said you would ask that question.)

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