Online reading assignment question: opinions on Pluto (CAE@astrolrner readers, August 2010)

(Analysis of results reported in "Old Ideas, New Technologies--Harnessing the Power of Web 2.0 Resources for the Weary Instructor" workshop given at the Astronomy Society of the Pacific Cosmos in the Classroom National Symposium on Teaching Astronomy for Non-Science Majors, August 2, 2010, 3:15-4:15 PM, Session A in Eaton 1B80, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.)

Readers of the Center for Astronomy Education: Improving Astronomy Education CAE@astrolrner listserv were asked to complete a pre-workshop assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com).

I believe Pluto should be a planet.
(SD) Strongly disagree.
(D) Disagree.
(N) Neutral.
(A) Agree
(SA) Strongly agree.

CAE@astrolrner listserv reader responses (39)
August 2010
(SD) : 9 students
(D) : 17 students
(N) : 5 students
(A) : 4 students
(SA) : 4 students

CAE astrolrnr readers were given the opportunity to explain their pre-instruction opinion, responses are listed below verbatim.

Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (Graded for completion.)
"Experts in planetary science have agreed that given everything we know about the solar system, it doesn't make sense to keep calling Pluto a planet. Who am I to argue with them?"

"The evidence such as the composition, inclination of it orbit and size are strong evidence that Pluto was not formed in the same manner as the other planets; however, it has been considered a planet since its discovery, so may we should continue to do so with a disclamer."

"Greatly different orbit, size, part of a binary system, one of several other outer solar system objects."

"Density makes it look more like other Kuiper Belt objects. Eccentricity is quite high compared to other planets."

"No morphological reason"

"There's a reason why it should not be, and the public should not sway the scientists who decided that."

"Being a planet is a definition."

"Historical purposes. There is so much astronomy jargon that is historical, why not keep Pluto? Besides, the IAU definition is not a well-formed definition."

"Should never have been designated a planet. I understand why it was; I understand how it was; it had to do with what we knew at the time. But knowing what we now know, it never would have been called a planet in the first place."

"I believe that requiring that a planet be the dominant object in its orbit, as well as being massive enough to be spherical, is a reasonable definition. I have heard no compelling arguments in favor of pluto being a planet."

"I've seen a planetarium that shows 3-D (Imiloa, Hawaii). It is instantly obvious that 8 planets share a common motion (and heritage) and Pluto does not."

"If Pluto were a planet, that would make our classification scheme inconsistent."

"Pluto's physical and orbital characteristics match it with the Kuiper Belt better than any planet."

"I believe it shouldn't be a "major" planet (like Mars, Jupiter, etc), but should 'dwarf planets' be a subcategory of planet? I'm not sure."

"I'm not a fan of the way the IAU's definition, but I agree that with so many similar objects being discovered, it is possible we will end up with 30+ planets if we kept the old definition."

"Classification can be subjective, but it's better if we strive for it to be objective -- and there are good reasons to think of Pluto as being in a different category than the terrestrial and gas planets."

"Pluto's characteristics are so dissimiliar to the other planets."

"lf Pluto is a planet so are other KBOs"

"We would end up with hundreds or thousands of planets, most of them ice balls like Pluto."

"I'm sentimental about it - it should be for historical reasons. But I have found the debate to be a place where people ask lots of questions."

"There are likely to be too many trans-Neptunian objects of roughly Pluto size to call them all planets. Have mercy on 5th graders who have to memorize all planet names."

"I agree that Pluto is just 1 of 10s, 100s, 100000s of rocky debris beyond Neptune. I don't think it's historical signif should give it special 'planet*' status."

"Doesn't fit with the two main categories of planets in our solar system. Fits quite well with the other KBOs."

"History and culture. Can be a member of more than one class"

"There is no longer a logical basis for Pluto to be considered a planet; however, the notion does have historical merit."

"Pluto should be grand-fathered in, as it has been a planet for the entire lifetimes of most of the people alive today."

"It is a dwarf planet as per IAU, so it is a planet with an adjective."

"what's in a name? nothing. But there are too many objects of comparable size to call Pluto something special."

"The campaign to de-planetize Pluto was started in 1930 by one very bitter astronomer jealous over the media and fame that accompanied its discovery (an early form of the sandbagging that would happen to Carl Sagan later). This personal crusade against Pluto and its discoverer should end. Stars vary in size by a factor of 1000x, why can't planets?"

"Pluto has been a planet since before I was in diapers. It should stay a planet."

"Pluto seems to have more similarities with KBO's than with those objects classified as planets."

"Its a matter of definition, and it is possible to make a definition that includes or excludes it. Emotion shouldn't be a factor. A method of sorting solar system objects is necessary and a definition that includes Pluto would include a good number of similar objects."

"I believe it's properties are fundamentally different from the 'accepted' eight planets in our solar system. There are many other solar system objects that are more similar to Pluto, and unless all of them are considered planets too, I think it would be illogical to only count Pluto as a planet for legacy purposes. However, I think the current definition of a 'planet' can be improved. Specifically, I think the 'must have cleared it's orbit' criterion should not be necessary to call something a planet. I think 1.'orbits the star' and 2.'will approach hydrostatic equilibrium' or 'is or will become an oblate spheroid due to gravity', and 3. 'does not have enough mass to ever generate a fusion reaction' would be a good set of criteria to classify a planet by. If this were the case, Pluto would be a planet, but so would many many more bodies in the solar system"

"There are arguments for or against the inclusion of large KBO's in the designation of planets. Ultimately, I think it is up to the planetary scientists who study such objects to decide what is the most useful classification for their particular research."

"To me, a rose would still smell as sweat by any other name... Pluto is still the same fascinating solar system object whether it is called a 'planet' or not. The only reason I would leave it a planet is because the public cares, and they think we took it away from them. Thus I am neutral. Also, it might be harder to get congress to fund a mission to Pluto-the-not-planet, so thank goodness New Horizons is already off the ground."

"Pluto is a tiny icy rock that is very different from the other planets. There are too many other objects just like Pluto. It is obviously in an other class of object."

"Pluto has been called a planet since its discovery in 1930 by Tombaugh. The latest definition of planet accepted by the IAU is hardly a well defined mathematical physical concept. The debate has made a mockery of astronomers. So, in the end, keep Pluto as a planet because, as Tevye would say, TRADITION !"

"Using the definition now accepted for Planets, Pluto just doesn't fit."

"Not large enough etc. - If Pluto is a planet then we would have a plethera of others to include."
Previous post (Cuesta College students):


Online reading assignment question: opinions towards astrology (CAE@astrolrner readers, August 2010)

(Analysis of results reported in "Old Ideas, New Technologies--Harnessing the Power of Web 2.0 Resources for the Weary Instructor" workshop given at the Astronomy Society of the Pacific Cosmos in the Classroom National Symposium on Teaching Astronomy for Non-Science Majors, August 2, 2010, 3:15-4:15 PM, Session A in Eaton 1B80, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.)

Readers of the Center for Astronomy Education: Improving Astronomy Education CAE@astrolrner listserv were asked to complete a pre-workshop assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com).

I believe astrology is able to make accurate predictions about my future.
(SD) Strongly disagree.
(D) Disagree.
(N) Neutral.
(A) Agree
(SA) Strongly agree.

CAE@astrolrner listserv reader responses
August 2010
(SD) : 31 students
(D) : 5 students
(N) : 0 students
(A) : 1 student
(SA) : 2 students

CAE astrolrnr readers were given the opportunity to explain their pre-instruction opinion, responses are listed below verbatim.

Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (Graded for completion.)
"Astrology is not a science."

"As I understand it, astrology grew out of the successful predictions of natural phenomenon made by the 'court wisemen' because they understood the seasonal patterns of the stars. As far as I understand it there is no scientific justification for predicting the future for an individual."

"Astrology is not a science based on evidence, but belief."

"No repeatable predictive powers in astrology"

"No scientific basis"

"Astrological predictions has been shown by scientists to be no better than guessing."

"Astrology is not based on scientific thought."

"It has been disproven, although so many still believe."

"Would be 'strongly disagree' as it has no reliable basis for predictions, but...since it can occasionally be correct (despite that it's strictly probabilistic and random), I have to give some credit (however begrudgingly)."

"I believe that quantum mechanics is a more accurate understanding of how the world works, and it is no possible to make predictions like astrology makes with this framework."

"I worked with George Abel who was very knowledgeable about astrology. I know of a handful of tests that show astrology works like fortune telling - psychology - and it 'works' by giving people advice, not by anything about planets"

"Astrology has no scientific basis; it isn't testable and relies solely on chance."

"Astrology has been debunked by numerous scientific experiments, ranging from the simple newspaper/magazine horoscopes to those crafted individually by professional astrologers."

"I didn't choose 'strongly disagree' because the predictions do work sometimes because they are general enough to sometimes/often be 'true'."

"Whether or not I believe in it is a question of faith. And that's my answer."

"Astrology is made up to appeal to us and make money, but it doesn't have anything to do with science!"

"Astrology is not science."

"Not a science!"

"While I don't think there is any predictive power, i find astrology a good topic to discuss in astronomy classes. I treat it with some respect. Some instructors are hard over against astronology, treating it with disdain. I find it an interestint social phenomina and a good entry into discussions about science."

"it's bunk."

"Scientific tests and basic logic show that astrology is hooey."

"People pick and choose the "predictions" made by astrology after the events happen, then claim it was a prediction."

"Meaningless, as it is only an ancient attempt to explain what seemed at the time to be supernatural."


"There is no evidence or reasonable explanation for why astrology should be able to make accurate predictions."

"The general statements can apply to almost anyone's situations."

"Astrology is applied poetics and primarily a rudimentary form of psychology in ancient times. Applied poetics and psychology cannot make predictions by construction."

"zero supporting evidence that I know of, astrological signs are cultural constructs"

"The only 'connections' found are at best weak correlations that dissolve upon close inspection."

"Astrology=bunk despite what Hillary Clinton says."

"By what means could the positions of the planets known to the ancients have any effect (other than minute gravitational effects) on the course of an indiviual's life? Shown to be an invalid concept decades ago."

"There is no mechanism for the system to work."

"There is not reason why the positions of objects in the sky should have any influence over people's personalities, their "fate", or how they should make decisions. Frankly, I think its complete and total nonsense."

"Astrology is based on the faulty notion that relative positions of objects in the sky can somehow influence the lives of individuals on Earth. It is not a science, and there have been no phenomena yet discovered, nor is there likely to be, that could exert this influence."

"Honestly, planetary scientists are some of the few people who's live actually are affected by the planets! But not in the way that astrologists believe. To me, astrology is a religion."

"Astrology has never been shown to work in controlled tests of its predictions. It has no plausible mechanism."

"Are you serious? After so many studies over hundreds of years have demonstrated this is nonsense, non-science, and utterly misleading the public. Has the species advanced at all in 5000 years?"

"It is archaic and based on planet paths that no longer even are accurate- what phooey."

"No evidence that astrology has any predictive value."
Previous posts (Cuesta College students):


Poster: "Current Events Quiz at Start of Introductory Laboratory Promotes Student Promptness and Awareness" (Cosmos in the Classroom 2010)

Originally uploaded by Waifer X

3' x 3' and 4' x 4' sizes of poster to be presented at "Cosmos in the Classroom 2010: A Hands-on Symposium on Teaching Introductory Astronomy" in Boulder, CO, by Cuesta College Physical Sciences Division instructor Dr. Patrick M. Len.


Kudos: have an amazing summer

"Have a good break" by Student 5221
Astronomy 210
May 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

"P-dog" by Student 3455
Astronomy 210
May 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA


Found physics: diopters

Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Reading glasses diagnostic display, Target, Paso Robles, CA.


Found physics: hella-

Originally uploaded by Waifer X

...or supposedly 10^27, in the metric system.


Online reading assignment question: opinions towards astrology

Astronomy 210, Spring Semester 2010
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 question was asked subsequent to, and then again following the lecture discussing the basis of sun-sign astrology, and how precession has shifted the position of the sun within certain zodiac constellations by one month from the dates published in popular astrological horoscopes.)

I believe astrology is able to make accurate predictions about my future. (Graded for completion.)
(SD) Strongly disagree.
(D) Disagree.
(N) Neutral.
(A) Agree
(SA) Strongly agree.

Student responses (pre-instruction)
Sections 30674, 30676
(SD) : 21 students
(D) : 37 students
(N) : 40 students
(A) : 13 students
(SA) : 0 students

Student responses (post-instruction)
Sections 30674, 30676
(SD) : 26 students
(D) : 38 students
(N) : 34 students
(A) : 15 students
(SA) : 1 students

Of the 114 students who had answered the pre-instruction question, and the 111 students who had answered the post-instruction question, 96 students had answered both the pre- and post-instruction questions (while 14 students answered only the pre-instruction, and 19 students only answered the post-instruction question).

Of the 96 students who answered both the pre- and post-instruction questions, 67 students had no change in their opinion, while 29 students changed their opinion.

Student responses (pre- and post-instruction responders, no change in opinion, N = 67)
Sections 30674, 30676
(SD) : 16 students
(D) : 23 students
(N) : 23 students
(A) : 5 students
(SA) : 0 students

Student responses (pre- and post-instruction responders, change in opinion, N = 29)
Sections 30674, 30676
(SD) : pre: 3 students; post: 8 students
(D) : pre: 10 students; post: 8 students
(N) : pre: 11 students; post: 8 students
(A) : pre: 5 students; post: 4 students
(SA) : pre: 0 students; post: 1 student

A Student t-test on all 96 students who answered both the pre- and post-instruction questions (67 students with no change in their opinion together with the 29 students that changed their opinion) results in p = 0.60, and thus there is no statistically significant difference between pre- and post-instruction responses.

For the students who took both and responded differently to the pre- and post-instruction questions, here were the shifts:

(SD) to (D): 2 students
(SD) to (N): 1 student
(D) to (SD): 7 students
(D) to (N): 3 students
(N) to (SD): 1 student
(N) to (D): 6 students
(N) to (A): 4 students
(A) to (N): 4 students
(A) to (SA): 1 student

"Negative shifts" in opinion (e.g., towards disagreement): 18 students
"Positive shifts" in opinion (e.g., towards agreement): 11 students
(Compare with the 34 students with no shifts in opinion.)

It appears that there is only a very slight shift towards negative opinions towards astrology in this small population sample, as many students apparently already have strongly held positions on this matter that are not going to be affected much by a single lecture on the basis of sun-sign astrology on Earth's revolution about the sun.

Students were given the opportunity to explain their pre-instruction opinion, responses are listed below verbatim.

Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (Graded for completion.)
"I believe anthing is posible, very open to ideas"

"I don't think the outcome of my life can be determined by burning gas."

"I do not believe that astrology can accurately predict my future 100% of the time. I believe that people of certain Zodiac signs may share similar personality traits, but i believe that nothing can accurately predict the future."

"i believe in faith and not that planets control things in life"

"Well it's lasted a good while with quite a few people still believing in it, though I really don't believe anything can predict the future accurately. *shrug* Who knows?"

"I believe a little in astrology. I don't know much about it, but believe that it is kind of like how the weather affects us. only with stars the change isn't so drastic here on earth. I am hoping to learn more about astrology in this course."

"I really enjoy reading things like my horoscope and find that the sweeping generalizations made often can be applied to my life, which I think is interesting. HOWEVER I highly doubt that astrology can predict things about my future accurately, especially since as humans we engage in free will often."

"I definitely believe we are more connected to the universe (thus the stars) than we're taught. I think the alignment of stars do affect us slightly, but only as much as we allow. I believe astrology and free will coexist."

"I don't believe that there is enough evidence to prove that predictions are accurate."

"I would like to believe the stars and planets have something to do with my personal life and future, yet I do not understand how they could. Millions of people in this world are Aries, as I am, so how could the stars predict all of our futures at once? It would be too broad of a prediction."

"Its not a Science"

"astrology is based on the concept that natural forces affect our lives constantly and in subtle ways."

"I don't believe there is any kind of proof that any of astrology is true, but I think there are some uncanny connections that can't be disproved either."

"I really don't know enough about the subject to make such a broad statement."

"I haven't ever been interested in Astrology so I can't say that I really believe it or not. i'm hoping this class changes that for me."

"Astrology has played a big part of my belief"

"I don't think my future can be predicted by astrology or anything else for that matter."

"I don't believe it is possible to predict the future."

"I believe only I can make somewhat of a more accurate prediction of my future."

"I am not superstitious."

"I think studying our atmosphere will help us learn more about global warming."

"I have read my horoscope several times and found it correct more often then not."

"I am not really sure i believe astronomy can make accurate decisions in my future."

"I'm undecided, I read my horoscope everyday though."

"My future has nothing to do with the stars."

"I find astrology interesting in it's interpretation of 'future' and 'self,' but I can't say I believe in it. I'd need some strong convincing."

"I don't believe that astrological signs can predict how I will act in the future based on the position of celestial bodies."

"I believe that for some people it may be able to make accurate predictions about the future, but at anytime in anyone's life that could easily change by the different choices they can make in that particular day"

"I dont know much about astronomy and i would like to further my knowledge in the subject to better support my belief/disbelief in astrology."

"I have no past experience with astrology. My mother has always been spiritual and believed in star readings but I do not have my own opinions on the subject."

"I believe in astrology because pretty much everything has been true so far."

"Today, I do not know enough about astrology to believe that it is able to make predictions about my future, but maybe in about 5 weeks my belief will change."

"I like to believe that I am in charge of my own destiny and that astrology cannot predict what I am thinking or doing. I also feel that astrology predictions can be fairly broad so that anyone could think that it somehow predicted their future."

"Occasionally predictions or assessments (such as personalities of people based on date of birth) are fairly or even creepily accurate. At other times it's just a load of shit. This may be due to errors by people interpreting the stars, my interpretation of their words etc etc, but either way, I don't credit or discredit them, but just take it as entertaining."

"My mom is a big believer in astrology and has had charts done for my entire family. Some of what she has said makes sense and has rubbed off on me."

"I don't see how generalized predictions about the future can apply, accurately, to so many people based on the time frame of their birth. To me it just doesn't seem plausible ."

"I believe that the universe is no way connected to my future and cannot effect it."

"I just don't have much opinion on it. I wouldn't base my life on it, but I wouldn't completely disregard it either."

"I don't strongly feel either way. It i entertaining to think that there is a power out there than can predict all things that are happening. However, at the same time it seems just a little far fetched."

"I do believe in astrology, but I do not base everything on it because I do not think every little thing is always right."

"I think the idea of the stars predicting my future is crazy. It's all nonsense."

"I believe that there are bigger things at work, and the universe does play a role in my future."

"I'm not really sure if astrology can make accurate predictions about peoples personalities and such but it might be able. maybe."

"Since i'am a libra i was once told that Im the only symbol in the chart that is not an animal or human. im a scale that possess all character traits of the 12 signs. if there is balance in a Libras life, they're not bad to have around. if the balance is disharmonised then the peroson is a walking mental chaos case. Then again Arent we all at times. i truly believe we possess all traits when we apply ourselfs. An in Chinese astrology Im an Ox, kind of a catch 22. If you can express youself honestly at the moment and not waste time then life is always good."

"i cant tell at this point if astrology will help predict any of my future."

"I do not believe in astrology simply because there is no scientific evidence of any kind to support it."

"I'm in control of my own destiny."

"I believe that only so much can be inferred from science. The rest is up to the individual making choices and decisions. This is why I have a neutral standpoint. Over this course, I hope to have a better understanding of my sign and this question."

"Human personality and behavior are a result of genetics and environment, not light from stars millions and millions of miles away.
astrology can't make accurate prediction of my future."

"I believe I don't really know enough about astrology in order to know how to answer it. Maybe it can make predictions, maybe it can't but I would need to know more information."

"My father is good friends with an Astrologer in Wales, who did my astrology chart when I was a child to see what my behavioral tendencies would be like. My 19th birthday he did a reading for the future, and so far everything has come to pass. I don't doubt him."

"Based on the fact that astrology holds no strong scientific basis for its supporters to stand on, or that astrological claims can be self-fulfilling, I do not think that astrology can make accurate predictions about my future."

"astrology... well i do believe it probably has something to do with your character and when and where you were born, however it is no way to make life decisions based on astrology."

"I dont believe astrology has anything to do with my future i feel it is fake."

"I dont think its plausible to think that the position of the stars and planets effects my behavior"

"I would like to believe, but I don't feel I have enough information to make an accurate decision one way or the other."

"It's unclear to me right now weather astrology can predict my future."

"Many believe that astrology is based on superstition and chance, but I believe that astrology contains many elements of scientific observations that can definitely be proven."

"I don't think that the stars influence my life in supernatural ways."

"sometimes it seems like zodiac and all of that astrology sometimes accurate but usually it's a hit and miss"

"I don't have any strong convictions or belief in it, but I do find them amusing to read."

"I find it hard to believe the sun's apparent position to arbitrarily defined constellations somehow affects our personality."

"people that I have met that are under a certain sign all act relatively the same, I am a leo and I have met other leos that are similar to myself."

"i dont really dont know anything about astrology so i dont have an opinion on it."

"I'm at a cross because I feel like the descriptor of what I am fits, but I have a really hard time with believing that the orbit of certain stars will influence my life in that way"

"something new to me in which i want to become more educated in"

"It is easy to apply most predictions to one's life if one believes it to be true."

"I do not believe that stars are able to predict my furture and know what will happen next,I decide my own future."

"I believe that many people just have to believe in something so they see Astrology as a way of belief. Maybe some people get bored as well and think it would be fun. Thanks P-dawg"

"Astrology is a pseudoscience. It is bullshit."

"I thought it was nonsense, but I met someone who seems to make use of it. I don't think the predictions are in the stars though; I think the time spent on the characteristics attributed to those stars gives insight into human behavior that can lead to ok predictions."

"I think that astrology can not predict what will happen in the future. I believe that astrology is more what people belief in ans not actual facts."

"Astrology predict aspects of a person's personality or their future by choosing general characteristics or senerios. So I believe that it can be correct but isn't always correct."

"I believe astronomy can predict a few things about my future, such as when a new moon phase is coming up or when certain stars are going to be viewable from where I live. I don't believe astronomy has the ability of predicting when I will get married, when I will die and other things of that nature."

"I believe the stars can tell us a lot more about ourselves and life than we realize."

"i just dont understand how stars can predict my life."

"i really dont know anything about it now soo i dont want to make any choose now"

"i dont think that the stars will hold my future."

"I believe this because it seems like many aspects of my life fall into many of the different Zodiac categories, so it doesn't seem too logical. For example, I'm a Scorpio, but I still can be careless at times, or ambitious, or a humanitarian."

"The relative positions of the stars and planets at the time of my birth or even now doesn't give insight into me or my future. The rapidly increase body of knowledge about the stars, planets, galaxies, etc. over the past 100 years makes it diffiecult to believe in their direct influence over my behavior or the predictin of the future."

"I don't believe astrology can predict what will happen to me regarding my personal life, but I do believe it can predict what will happen in nature."

"I do believe that there is a connection to us and space but I am not sure how much is true."

"I think astronomy is great for look at starts, planets, and other things in the universe, but as far as horscope signs and stuff, i dont believe in it 100% Somethings are accurate but not everything a scorpio says describes me."

"I didn't grow up believing in astrology- so I have to believe what I know about. I'm not opposed to the idea of astrology being correct, it's just not something I'm familiar or comfortable with."

"I believe that I make my own future. Astrology wouldn't be able to provide a strong prediction to anybody's life, because of our own personal will and the decisions each individual makes from day to day. Now that doesn't mean I do not check my horoscope from time to time. It means I just take it with a grain of salt."

"I'd like to think that I don't believe in Astrology. But with that being said there are aspects of Astrology that tend to be true. Although, that doesnt necessarily mean everything Astrology tells you is true. People should define their choices not others."

"Maybe has been proven accurate in a few cases, but i really dont think someone could predict my future other than God."

"I don't know enough about Astrology to believe it. But even it's brief statements are very broad to any audience reading it. I think it may possibly be a 'good and interisting read' for most."

"I don't believe in it because not only is it absurd but it's also too vague"

"I feel that my zodiac sign describes me very well, however, I do not put my trust into its ability to predict my future."

"No disrespect to the field of astrology, but I believe that God is the one who holds my future and ultimately shows me what's to come."

"I don't really know a lot about astrology."

"I will have to fully understand the class before having a viewpoint on this question."

"I believe atronomy may have some predictions of my future. In the end, I believe I make my own fate.
I think that astrology can be fascinatingly correct sometimes. For example, I'm a Virgo, and when I look up the description of a Virgo, it is pretty right on. However, it can be completely false. Especially when you look up your daily horoscope, even monthly horoscope, they are just about always wrong. This is why I am neutral. I see the accuracy in astrology, as well as the inaccuracy, and I have no explanation as to why astrology can be so right on at times."

"I have yet to see any proof. I read them for fun all the time but nothing ever comes of the predictions."

"I don't believe in Astrology because the future isn't set. It can change depending on the choices we make. There's many possibilities for a person's future and I don't think the stars have it set. I'm a cancer. There's many different cancers. It's not like the stars will have the same exact, true future for all of the cancers."

"They have a broad definition that can apply to anyone who reads them."

"I don't believe it is written in the stars the way my life goes a certain month. Yes, the predictions can sometimes be a bit close to what is going on, but I think it is highly coincidental."

"I strongly disagree because we as humans are in charge of our life and we are capable of doing what we wish. If we were to live based upon predictions, we would wait or go around to somehow come upon the prediction given and believe it was meant to be like that when in reality no one or nothing can control our future unless we let them."

"To my understanding, astrology is a person telling your future through the positions of the stars,astrolgoical signs, etc. I do not share this belief, i am more of an religious person and have heard and seen that astrology is just not accurate and simply guessing."

"Books that I have read seem to accurately describe my personality but its hard to tell if it works for all people. It sometimes seems too general, but entertaining nonetheless."

"Astrology is a pseudoscience. There is no evidential basis for it. It has remained in our society because it allows us to place the responsibility of our actions on something outside of ourselves."

"I just Don't believe that the position of the stars has anything to do with the individual events in my life."

"I have a couple astrology books and what they have to say about my sign is pretty darn accurate"

"because i dont believe that astrology has anything to do with what i end up doing in my future"

"i just personally do not believe that astrology has anything to do with what i end up doing with my life"

"I don't believe that anyone can make accurate predictions about the future using their own devices and sorcery. I believe that God alone has that power."

"I believe that the future is in Gods hands"

"I have a strong disbelief in astrology. Christ's Word states in Psalm 19:1, 'The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.' The stars point to God and His greatness. They do not tell us anything about our future. Only God know the future and directs the path of man."

"In some ways I do believe that astrology does play some sort of role in my future. I think that that alignment of the stars, sun, and moon in relation to the Earth create differences in people depending on the seasons, the location of the moon, and I do believe that astrological signs do play a part in the type of person that you are. I did select neutral as my answer because at the same time, I believe that the enviroment, including the people that you surround yourself with play a large part in the decesions that you make and whether or not they effect your future in the short term or in the long term."

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Education research: introductory astronomy laboratory student promptness (Cuesta College, Fall Semester 2009-Spring Semester 2010)

Astronomy 210L, Fall Semester 2009-Spring Semester 2010
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students are assigned to read online articles on current astronomy events, and take a short current events quiz during the first 10 minutes of lab. (This motivates students to show up promptly to lab, as the time cut-off for the quiz is strictly enforced!)

The following summarizes the statistical analysis involved in counting the students that come later than 10 minutes into lab (and thus miss taking the current events quiz).

Student attendance status was determined for each lab using the following IF() function:
  • So students with no lab scores entered are marked "absent."
  • Of students with a recorded lab score, those with no current events quiz score recorded are marked "late."
  • Of students with a recorded lab score, those with a recorded current events quiz score recorded are marked "here."
The totals of "absent," "late," and "here" counts are divided by the product of the total number of labs (13) times the total number of students:
Absent rate = ("absent" tag count)/(number of labs)*(number of students),
and similarly to calculate the late and full attendance rates.

For the past two semester, the average current events quiz scores were recorded, along with student attendance rates:
Cuesta College
Astronomy 210L Fall Semester 2010 sections 70178, 70186, 70200
(N = 66)
Current events quiz average score: 76.6% +/- 20.3%
Absent rate: 10.7%
Late (missed current events quiz): 1.9%
Full attendance rate: 87.4%

Astronomy 210L Spring Semester 2010 sections 30678, 30679, 30680, 30682
(N = 86)
Current events quiz average score: 77.3% +/- 24.1%
Absent rate: 12.0%
Late (missed current events quiz): 2.9%
Full attendance rate: 85.1%
The average current events quiz scores, along with attendance rates are comparable between these two semesters.

Notably, the number of students who come to lab more than 10 minutes late (and thus miss taking the current events quiz) ranged from an average of one late student per week (66*0.019 = 1.254 in Fall 2010) to 2.5 late students per week (86*0.029 = 2.494 in Spring 2010), or an overall rate of 2.0 late students per week (weighted average of (66*1.254 + 86*2.494)/(66 + 86)).

There were no statistics on on-time versus late students compiled in this course before current events quizzes were first implemented (in Fall 2006), so there is no directly comparable control (no entry quiz) population to compare with in order to determine the effect of current events quizzes on student promptness. This coming semester (Fall 2010) informal observations of tardiness in introductory college physics laboratory and general survey geology laboratory will be made in the same institution (Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA).


Mars and Venus in Leo at twilight

Originally uploaded by Waifer X

Mars and Venus in Leo at dusk, Murphys, CA.