Online reading assignment: the Milky Way (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 the Milky Way's shape, size and composition and spiral arm structure and formation.

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.
"How little of the stars in our galaxy that we can actually see. There is so much more out there!"

"The persistence of vision optical effect demonstrated our ability to see and interpret light and it reminded me of long exposure photography. I don't do any myself but I've seen people take photos that explore the concept of perceived light over time and expand on that by using cameras to capture various actions involving light (light sculptures!)."

"That we live in a flattened shaped galaxy."

"Being able to tell that the Milky Way is a flattened disk because majority of the stars are in a line."

"The pulsation of Cepheid variable stars."

"How astronomers can deduce the luminosity of far-away stars in globular clusters by using the period of time between the quick fluctuation of small dim unstable stars and the slow fluctuation of large, bright unstable stars."

"I thought that how the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy were made was interesting, because I think it is crazy that they are created by sucking in nearby dwarf galaxies."

"How the arms of the Milky Way are formed, and the way the stars aren't going into the center but are just following a circle, but looks like an arm because they group up at certain points."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I wasn't too clear on the fact that globular clusters help determine the shape of our galaxy."

"I'm not really sure how we know dark matter exists. I guess that mathematically there should be way more matter in the universe than what we can detect, and dark matter is kinda just what we call the other matter that should exist and we don't know what it is?"

"Dark matter MACHOS vs. WIMPS is confusing. I dont understand how it can be both? Or is it one or the other?"

"I'm confused as to why the Milky Way appears 'blue'--shouldn't it appear pink due to hydrogen and star formation?"

"How the spiral arms are illusionary."

"I don't understand what the PimpStar Rims are."

"I didn't really understand how density waves are created."

"The difference between spectra of population I and population II stars when looking at the metal lines."

In your experience, how much of the "Milky Way" (the band of faint stars across the celestial sphere) have you been able to see in the night sky?
As much as can be seen with the naked eye.  [12]
Not very much.  ********** [10]
Barely seen it.  ****** [6]
(Never been able to see it.)  * [1]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  [0]

Using the most powerful light-gathering optical telescopes in the darkest skies, __________ of the stars in our entire galaxy can be observed from Earth.
1%.  ******* [7]
5%.  ** [2]
10%.  *********** [11]
50%.  *** [3]
100%.  [0]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ****** [6]

If you did not have access to a mirror while camping, what could you do to find out whether or not you're having a bad hair day?
"There are many things you can do. The first option is just to feel what your hair is doing. Look at your camera on your phone. You can ask someone around you. You could also look into a spoon or something reflective. Even something like water."

"Look at my phone while the screen is off."

"I would ask everyone I met to give me an honest opinion of my hair."

"I would put it in a braid or a ponytail because I am a hair wizard and bad hair days are no match for my wizardry."

"Just hope I don't have dreadlocks forming."

"Trick question! I just wear a hat!"

"Does not apply, I shave my head."

"I guess I would just have to trust my girlfriend!"

"A high-maintenance camper is no camper at all."

"Use the sun to cast a shadow of my head, and analyze the shadow to determine what state my hair is in."

"I would feel my hair and assess if it felt like it was messy or not. "

Look at PimpStar Rims (*.html) for cars, or MonkeyLectric Rims (*.html) for bikes. Briefly explain how they work.
"They play on the delayed ability of the eye and brain to interpret light data and through rotation, they are able to create two-dimensional planes of light with gaps that create images to our eyes."

"Our eyes and brain don't refresh fast enough to process the changes in light as single instances."

"Your eyes and brain don't refresh what you see fast enough leaving an after vision of the lights."

"They lights move so fast that they create a picture."

"They spin."

"I do not understand them."

"Horribly, Windows XP is an incredibly outdated and vulnerable operating system. The bike ones work much better because their LEDs can't be as easily hacked."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Are we going to have class the day before Thanksgiving?" (Yes, that's the date of the midterm. If that's going to be problematic for you, then talk to me.)

"Yesterday I was up early to start my day, worked all day, stood in line all night to vote, and have until midnight to turn in all my online homework so I can't finish all the questions. I am sooo sorry, I care about this course and want to get a good grade. Please don't think that I am slacking."

"Honestly it was really hard for me to do this homework with the results of the election."

"I am very worried about our country." (Mrs. P-dog is coping by having #fourmorebeers)

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