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

Astronomy 210, fall 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.
"Solar eclipses--they have always fascinated me since I was a kid."

"That you can only see a partial eclipse if you are in the penumbra."

"That in a solar eclipse, the moon is covering the sun, but in a lunar eclipse Eearth is covering the moon."

"That the timing needs to be perfect between the moon phase and the moon orbit in order for there to be an eclipse."

"Aristotle being the founder of the geocentric universe to be the founder of the geocentric universe, because I'm really interested in philosophy."

"I never knew that Copernicus died before his book was printed. I thought that the society he lived in back then would've banned or destroyed his book because it proved against the theory that Earth was the center of the universe. I'm surprised it still got so famous even after he died."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Nothing this time."

"Eclipses. They're cool and all, but a little confusing between total and annular vs total and partial, and that sometimes apparently it can skip and eclipse?"

"The phases of the moon during specific types of eclipses."

"Understanding the different types of eclipses when they occur."

"How does Earth's shadow make a different color on the moon and why wouldn't it just be black or a hard line where Earth's shadow was?"

"What is really happeing during a solar and lunar eclipse."

"Planetary retrograde motion confuses me. I need to see an animation of it or something because my mind just can't grasp the concept of it."

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.  ****** [6]
Taurus.  * [1]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  * [1]
Virgo.  ** [2]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  * [1]
Aquarius.  * [1]
Pisces.  ***************** [17]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  * [1]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [70%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [50%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [53%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [77%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [43%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [83%]
Ptolemy [70%]
Copernicus [80%]
Tycho [67%]
Kepler [43%]
Galileo [40%]
Newton [80%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [63%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [%87]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [60%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [57%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Why would eclipses only occur once in a while and not every year?" (We'll get into that in class. It's all about timing two separate moon cycles, as a solar or lunar eclipse only happens when both cycles coincide.)

"I'm really not having a fun time with the philosopher/astronomer stuff, but I'll get there."

"The second set of presentation slides did not go into specifics of the seven different astronomers or what they did? It felt incomplete." (The presentation was not meant to be a comprehensive summary of each astronomer's accomplishments, but is intended as a checklist for you to target your re-reading of the history of astronomy chapter.)

"Why does the moon look really big in the sky some nights then a week later it seems smaller?" (The perception of the moon being bigger when it is low in the sky, and seeming smaller when it is higher in the sky is mainly a psychological phenomenon. Typically this is experienced strongly when you are young, and you typically progressively lose this perception as you get older (like me). However, some people still retain this perception even into adulthood (like Mrs. P-dog). And a few people have never even experienced this illusion.)

"This class is getting hard."

"Cake? or pie?" (Uh, pie? #thecakeisalie)

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