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

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2015
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.
"I found the GIF animations very interesting because they help solidify the concepts of the eclipses. It was interesting reading about it but even more interesting seeing the animations of them happening."

"That the sun is 400 times larger than the moon yet the moon can block it out. It's important for the under dog to win now and then."

"That even early astronomers felt that it was the sun that was stationary, not Earth, they chose to follow Aristotle;s belief because it was the first and original thought of how the 'heavens' worked."

"How philosophers slowly changed the way we viewed astronomy through different theories and discoveries. It is interesting to see what was believed to be true then, compared to what we know to be true now."

"Why eclipses happen only so often--I didn't realize the moon's orbit was tilted."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I know I am going to have a hard time keep all of the early astronomers names/contributions to astronomy straight."

"Eclipses were the most confusing for me. What phase the moon is during the different eclipses is difficult to remember."

"I couldn't tell the difference between the nearly full moon that was about to under go a total lunar eclipse, and the one that wasn't. I would like to know how to tell the difference. I was also wondering whether or not the phases of the moon are considered partial lunar eclipses."

"Lunar/solar eclipses because there is a lot of information to soak in."

"How the moon's tilt affects eclipses, I know there is a certain position the moon's orbit needs to be in, but it's just a little confusing."

"I'm still finding the retrograde motion a little confusing, mainly because I'm still trying to figure out how it works exactly."

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.  * [1]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  * [1]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  * [1]
Pisces.  ******************************* [31]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  * [1]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [58%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [50%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [53%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [81%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [64%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [86%]
Ptolemy [75%]
Copernicus [89%]
Tycho [78%]
Kepler [61%]
Galileo [64%]
Newton [100%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [92%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [74%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [89%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [80%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Can we go over the how and the whys of lunar vs. solar eclipses and the moon's position for both a little more in-depth?" (Yes, as time allows.)

"All the different astronomers were confusing. How much on the astronomers do we need to know for the tests? Could you please go over them in class?" (Uh, no. We don't have time for that. However, we'll emphasize what is and what is not important to know about these historical figures.)

"Team Edward?" (Nah, Team Bella.)

"Are telescopes only going to be used in the lab class?" (We'll take a field trip out to the telescope shelter next week, and you'll get to see the telescopes up close. And then there will be several star nights this semester so you can look through them (well, weather permitting).)

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