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

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2014
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.
"Something I found interesting from the textbook reading was the idea of 'first principles' in ancient times. This concept is personally interesting to me because I enjoy thinking about how philosophers and early scientists developed ideas that sometimes still hold true in present day. It would be so difficult to come up with an accurate model of the universe, especially if you had first principles that everyone around you accepted without question, and if you risked being shunned by the church or charged with heresy. It is also interesting that even Aristotle, who is known today as a brilliant philosopher, had first principles he accepted without question, like believing the heavens were perfect."

"I wanted to know about the eclipse cycles more. I tried to stay up to watch the most recent lunar eclipse."

"I honestly found it quite interesting why we don't have lunar eclipses every full moon because though I knew it didn't, realizing that the moon's orbit as well as its phase both needed to line up was a bit of a shock, though very interesting!"

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I found it confusing why there isn't a solar eclipse at every new moon, and a lunar eclipse at every full moon. Does Earth not being perfectly sphere affect this?"

"I'm confused about the difference between solar and lunar and unsure of how often an eclipse happens?"

A friend of yours has a birthday on March 30. According to your starwheel, the sun would have been located in front of which zodiac sign on that date? (Ignore daylight saving time.)
Aries.  * [1]
Taurus.  [0]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  * [1]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  ** [2]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  [0]
Pisces.  ********************* [21]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  [0]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [92%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [72%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [68%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [88%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [76%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [80%]
Ptolemy [80%]
Copernicus [84%]
Tycho [84%]
Kepler [80%]
Galileo [80%]
Newton [88%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [96%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [92%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [92%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [91%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Please explain Kelper's natural laws in a easier way than the book. Please." (I will try to do so using animated GIFs.)

"Could you explain a little more how to observe if a full moon will turn into a lunar eclipse? And how the diagram in the presentation works with that?" (Yes--the main idea is to look to see if you cannot see the dark side of the moon at the very top edge or the very bottom edge of the full moon. We'll look at examples of this in class.)

"What is your dog's name?" (Briquetta. But she acts more like Mrs. P-dog's dog than being my dog.)

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