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

Astronomy 210, fall 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.
"Eclipses, because I was always curious about them and it's nice to finally learn more about them."

"How people were able to piece together theories about the solar system hundreds of years ago. It's amazing the things they were able to come up with even without the technology that we have today."

"You can see an eclipse through a pinhole in a card onto another card. This was interesting because I did't know you could do that."

"That there was more to a solar eclipse than just the moon being in front of the sun. Also that to be able to see a full eclipse you had to be in the penumbra to see it and is only in a few parts of the earth in a straight line."

"I liked reading the background of how all of the astronomers were talked about and their backgrounds and how they were able to build more of an understanding from the previous astronomer."

"I liked learning the difference in eclipses. I knew the names of solar and lunar eclipses, but I didn't know exactly what they were and their differences, I thought they may have just been a different time of year."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"How to tell whether or not the moon was going to be eclipsed by looking at the edges of the full moon and determining if they are ragged or completely sharp."

"I'm not really confused, just a little overwhelmed with the terminology. I'm definitely going to study more."

"What phase(s) of the moon it needs to be in for partial and annular solar eclipses."

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.  * [1]
Gemini.  * [1]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  ** [2]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  [0]
Pisces.  ***************** [17]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *** [3]

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 [54%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [81%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [42%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [81%]
Ptolemy [61%]
Copernicus [65%]
Tycho [62%]
Kepler [58%]
Galileo [58%]
Newton [88%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [85%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [96%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [81%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [69%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Do you believe astronomy is able to make predictions about the future?" (Let me consult the Magic 8-Ball®.)


"I would like it if you could do more presentations, or talk more in detail about what we are studying. I appreciate the group activities, but it is not my learning style. I need more things I can take notes on." (Yes, as long as I get sufficient feedback on what difficulties the class as a whole is having, so I'll know specifically what I should be covering in class. There just isn't enough time in lecture to cover ALL THE THINGS.)

"The textbook is really hard to comprehend about the moon and its solar and lunar eclipses what can I do to help me figure it out?" (I'll make sure to set aside some time to help the class distinguish between all the different eclipse types and causes in class, before you practice this on the in-class activity.)

"What does Mrs. P-dog look like?" (Like this. A total back-country trail-crushing babe.)

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