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

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2014
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.
"I found it interesting that in an eclipse, you have to have a full moon or a new moon for it to happen. We also need the moon's orbit to be aligned edge-on."

"The solar eclipses were the most interesting to me. I think they were my favorite because I love how they look. They have, by far, the coolest photographs. The lunar eclipses are fun to look at because of the red coloring, but I think the solar eclipses are much more attractive."

"I thought it was interesting learning the difference between solar eclipses and lunar eclipses. With solar eclipses, light to Earth is blocked by the moon while with lunar eclipses, light to the moon is blocked by Earth. Opposites!"

"I related the eclipses to the TV show Heroes."

"I thought it was interesting that we can see the moon at all when there is a lunar eclipse, I would like to talk about that more in class to be able to fully understand how that is possible."

"It was interesting to learn more about a few of the ancient astronomers. It was good to be able to match the astronomer with their corresponding ideas and models, when I had previously only knew very little about who went with what."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Nothing, the material that was covered was understandable and I feel confident on the reading and previews."

"A topic that carries some confusion for me are eclipses. Although I have been through several solar and lunar eclipses in my lifetime, I find it hard to explain scientifically what is happening. I think I just need to see more actual 3D models of these processes."

"In the *.GIF animation of the moon's orbit, I was not able to tell when there was going to be an eclipse and would like clarification."

"Something I didn't quite understand from the reading were the philosophers principles on the universe. I'm not sure why their opinions are important to astronomy especially if some of them were completely wrong, although it is interesting that Copernicus was the first one to believe that the sun is the center of the solar system."

"I thought the concept of how the lunar eclipse happened would be easy to understand. But for some reason, it took me awhile to get it down. It made me feel stupid once I got it."

"The sky itself kinda confuses me. I think if I spend more time looking at it the more I learn I will understand it."

"I found it confusing trying to figure out which astronomers had evidence to back up their theories and which ones didn't."

"The eclipses and not the 'how or why,' but 'when and why then.'"

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.  *** 3]
Taurus.  * [1]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  *** [3]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
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 [54%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [58%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [58%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [85%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [58%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [89%]
Ptolemy [73%]
Copernicus [81%]
Tycho [81%]
Kepler [62%]
Galileo [62%]
Newton [89%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [92%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [81%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [77%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [72%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"When is the next solar eclipse and lunar eclipse, and where in the world will it be a total solar eclipse?" (Next total lunar eclipse for the entire western U.S. is the evening of April 15-16, 2014--visible right here in San Luis Obispo county. Next total solar eclipse in the U.S. is August 21, 2017--you'll need to go on a road trip!)

"Do we need to know dates of birth of influential people or just what they did and around what time frame?" (Well, more importantly, what contribution did they make to astronomy, which is related to who came before and who came after them.)

"The flipped classroom is a way of learning I've never used, it's interesting."

"There were some reading assignment questions that could only be answered with information found in unassigned chapters. Am I correct in only reading these assigned pages?" (Yes, but sometimes I may leave out a relevant section by mistake. No harm in reading ahead.)

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