Online reading assignment: eclipses, history of astronomy (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 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.
"That the full moon turns red during a total lunar eclipse. I always thought it just disappeared like the sun for a total solar eclipse."

"That the moon's phase and its orbit has to be just right to cause an eclipse."

"That in ancient times astronomers and the public truly believed Earth was the center of the universe and everything else revolved around it. I find this interesting just because it's so backwards from what we know and study today that it's hard to believe people believed that at one point."

"I liked reading about the different astronomers and how they built on each other's ideas and discoveries."

"That eclipses happen and because I've never seen one."

"That Copernicus was afraid to publish his ideas because of his connection with the church."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"How the moon phases relate to solar and lunar eclipses."

"Why are there only eclipses during certain times? Why not every time there's a new or a full moon?"

"The differences between lunar and solar eclipses are a little difficult, because it takes some time and practice to distinguish the differences between the two and what constitutes each one."

"As interesting as it is I do kind of find eclipses confusing. For me its being able to look at a picture and tell which one it is. Or where the moon would be."

"That the moon can cover the sun."

"The difference between lunar and 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.  * [1]
Taurus.  [0]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  [0]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  * [1]
Pisces.  ************** [14]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ** [2]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [44%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [50%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [44%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [83%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [56%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [83%]
Ptolemy [78%]
Copernicus [83%]
Tycho [83%]
Kepler [72%]
Galileo [72%]
Newton [78%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [83%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [100%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [67%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [61%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I have always heard not to look at the sun because its brightness can burn one's eyes. The book states this as well, has it happened to someone before?" (The damage to your eyes is from ultraviolet light exposure to your cornea, as the cells on the surface your eye are getting sunburnt, and recovery from this damage depends on the frequency, intensity and length of exposure. Notable cases of extreme long-term exposure include a girl stared at the sun for 30 minutes during an eclipse, and a man who periodically gazed at the sun for religious rituals.)

Do we have to know every name of the astronomers we were assigned to read about?" (Well, maybe not just yet, but a passing familiarity will do for now. We'll go back over what they did, and how they did it, through next week.)

"What is your favorite part about teaching this class?" (This. Answering and making comments on student questions. While the course curriculum will stay the same, feedback from students is always interesting and will keep changing over the next sixty semesters until I retire.)

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