Online reading assignment: atmosphere problems, Earth, the moon, Mercury (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2016
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 problems caused by the atmosphere for telescope observing, Earth, and the impacted worlds: the moon, and Mercury.

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 way that CO2 enters and is taken out of Earth's atmosphere is interesting."

"The stuff about Earth. It gave me a better understanding of our planet."

"It was interesting to learn that Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are small, dense worlds make of rock and iron."

"Telescopes that are in space, because they have a fresh eye on what it actually looks like."

"How the Earth's crust is always being renewed, so most of the stuff we see like mountains and valleys around us aren't that old but rather fairly new."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The part with Mercury's features was confusing."

"I had a challenging time with all the different telescopes."

"The history of our moon. The pictures were a bit confusing."

Stars to appear to "twinkle" in the night sky because of...
"Because it's amazing."

"The planets that orbit the stars themselves are passning in the line of vision we have here."

From my understanding it has to do with the distance of the object from Earth. The nearest stars to earth are still light years away from us, opposite the planets who are our neighbors in the solar system. Because the light has less distance to travel, the planets remain a steady source of light. Because the stars are further away, the light has to travel a longer distance to see us. That's why our sun does not twinkle, but is constantly bright."

"The wind!"

"The 'twinkles' are caused by turbulence in Earth's atmosphere."

A large modern optical telescope in outer space would have images with better __________ than a comparable ground-based telescope.
brightness.   * [1]
resolution.   ***** [5]
magnification.   * [1]
(None of the above choices.)   [0]
(Two of the above choices.)   **** [4]
(All of the above choices.)   **** [4]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)   [0]

Identify how carbon dioxide enters and how it is taken out of Earth's atmosphere.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Enters atmosphere from: volcanoes [53%]
Taken out of atmosphere by: oceans [50%]

Identify the oldest (longest ago) to the youngest (most recent) features on the moon.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Craters partially filled in with flat lava plains: oldest (formed longest ago) [47%]
Flat lava plains: middle [27%]
Craters on top of flat lava plains: youngest (formed most recently) [53%]

Identify the oldest (longest ago) to the youngest (most recent) features on Mercury.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Large crater basins: oldest (formed longest ago) [40%]
Lava-filled lowlands: middle [47%]
Long curving ridges: youngest (formed most recently) [36%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Thank you again for letting us look at the telescope! I learned so much and it truly fascinated me."

"I wasn't able to make on Thursday even for the telescope. Will we have another chance to do it again?" (Yes, later this semester, weather permitting.)

"I heard you are a cat person, is this true? (Ask my cat, Pocahontas--she has her own Facebook page.)

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