Online reading assignment: eclipses, history of astronomy (SLO 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.
"Learning a little bit of history of astronomy. Being a history major I really enjoyed this part!"

"I was unaware that eclipses always happen during full or new moon phase. That was interesting to me."

"Kinda cool to read about how solar and lunar eclipses work. Makes me want to be in the middle of the umbra when one happens."

"How the moon has to be at the right stage and tilt in order to cause an eclipse."

"The explanation of why planets appear as if they are moving backward in retrograde was very interesting to me. I've heard a lot about astrological retrogrades, so it was neat to make this connection and also to imagine ancient astronomers scrambling to explain what they saw."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"How Mars does a "'zig-zag' path. Also how it moves westward then east. As I read that section it did not click."

"Why the moon emits a copper glow when a lunar eclipse takes place. It says something about having to do with Earth's atmosphere, but its not making sense to me."

"the way the planets all move around the sun. I'm a visual person and it's challenging for me to conceptualize the motion from the reading."

"I still find it difficult to distinguish between a lunar and solar eclipse."

"The way the moon's orbit is tilted and how that affects things like eclipses. It needs to have the right orbit and phase, but the orbiting part is confusing, as in I'm having trouble seeing when the orbiting is correct and when it's not for an eclipse."

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.  ** [2]
Taurus.  *** [3]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  * [1]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  ** [2]
Pisces.  *************************** [27]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  **** [4]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [74%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [50%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [58%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [82%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [50%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [88%]
Ptolemy [74%]
Copernicus [77%]
Tycho [69%]
Kepler [64%]
Galileo [59%]
Newton [82%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [82%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [77%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [95%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [79%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"When I was little I use to think the stars were angels watching down on us from the heavens above."

"Some of the material was ahead of the assigned reading for this week." (That's okay, it happens sometimes. Good job on recognizing that was the case.)

"How is the homework graded?" (For completion, not necessarily for correctness. Just give me feedback on what you know (or don't know).)

"What is a 'supermoon?' We are supposed to have one this month." (A 'supermoon' is when the full moon is closest to Earth, only by a slight amount than when it is at its farthest. No big deal, other than knowing the fact that it's nearly imperceptibly closer (and larger) than usual. Most photographs of supermoons exaggerate its size.)

"Were you born with a hearing defect or is it from years of listening to too much hard rock?" (Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSHL) is when your hearing disappears overnight--and no one really knows what causes it. #fml But I do get to claim being the world's deafest swing DJ.)

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