Online reading assignment: eclipses, history of astronomy (SLO 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 find that everything in the textbook is confusing, which is very interesting to me."

"That the tilt of the moon's orbit changes over the months. I had no idea that it did that."

"I found the entire section that goes into detail about the different types of eclipses particularly interesting. As a child I was always fascinated with eclipses but never quite understood them and then as I grew older I never remembered to research them. So its cool to finally get to learn more."

"I thought it was cool that not everyone will see the same eclipse, because it depends where you are. I thought this was cool because then you can plan when you might see one and you can also find out when (or if) other people will see one."

"I thought the history part was interesting because you never think there is a history to astronomy, just always thought it existed. All of the astronomers were all interesting."

"What really interested me was being told how to tell when an eclipse will be going to take place. This was interesting to me because, personally, I have never seen an eclipse in my life. Next time I know when one is going to occur, I will brag to all my friends and they will think I am such a scholar."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Lunar eclipses are confusing to me because I'm not sure what is casting a shadow on what. Is it the Earth's shadow cast on the moon? Or the moon's shadow on Earth?"

"In the presentation previews I was confused about how to tell the difference between the solar and lunar eclipses. I think I understand the difference (solar is when the sun is blocked, lunar is when the moon is darkened) but it was hard to tell the difference on the picto-quiz in the presentation preview because I couldn't tell which figures were representing the moon and which were the sun. I re-read it and I think I understand it 100% now. But it was still confusing at first."

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.  ** [2]
Taurus.  [0]
Gemini.  [0]
Cancer.  [0]
Leo.  [0]
Virgo.  *** [3]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  [0]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  * [1]
Pisces.  ******************************* [31d]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ** [2]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [82%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [72%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [64%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [92%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [74%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [95%]
Ptolemy [85%]
Copernicus [90%]
Tycho [77%]
Kepler [62%]
Galileo [62%]
Newton [95%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [87%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [74%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [92%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [77%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"What types of animals do you have?" (A miniature Schnauzer, a pixiebob cat, and a bengal cat who has a Facebook account.)

"Your beard is fabulous." (Uh, thank you, but what about my mustache? MY MUSTACHE?!?)

"Where did you get the glasses for watching the eclipse for your dog? Why exactly is it so dangerous to look at a solar eclipse?"(Online; just make sure it is specifically for eclipses. Welding googles do not provide protection for staring at the sun. It may seem safe to stare at the sun directly during a eclipse, but your unprotected eye would still be exposed to a lot of infrared light that will heat up and burn your retina.)

"Do you believe in God? Do you believe astrology can predict the future?" (My religion teaches me that I should not believe in astrology.)

"Do you think students learn better working in groups than individually?" (Generally, yes, for practicing applying certain concepts, but your mileage may vary.)

"Do we always have to ask a question? Is this last part worth points?" (If you completely answered all of the above questions, this part is optional. If you did not, then you should put some substantive feedback/questions/comments here to make up for that.)

"Honestly, I need help on everything! There is not much I actually understand. This is personally confusing to me because I actually need help from a teacher and not learning online!" (Don't worry about understanding everything (or anything) from the presentations before coming to class, at least you've been exposed to the basic terminology and concepts, and realize (and also help me realize) what you need clarification and explanation on when you come to class.)

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