Online reading assignment: history of astronomy, telescope powers (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 problems caused by the atmosphere for telescope observing, Earth, and the impacted worlds: the moon, and Mercury.

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.
"It was very interesting to find out why stars actually appear to twinkle because of the comparison of looking at an image from underwater."

"Light pollution--causing the telescopes to not be able to get as good as an image of the night sky. This led me to think about the locations of very large telescopes, and just how hard it would be for astronomers to get to these telescopes located in these remote mountains."

"I thought it was interesting that Earth has a much larger core than the moon. I thought it was interesting because I had never heard about the large impact theory."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I found the electromagnetic spectrum chart confusing. Its kind of hard to interpret and to understand."

"I found it confusing that the greenhouse gasses are controlled by oceans. I just didn't quite understand how the 'recycling' happens."

"The density and size of the planets was confusing for me to grasp. In particular, it's importance to the mass and temperatures of the planetary cores."

Stars to appear to "twinkle" in the night sky because of:
"Stars twinkle because we are seeing them through our own turbulent atmosphere."

"The light from stars has to travel through air which causes the light to bend and changes the way the light looks to our eyes."

A large modern optical telescope in outer space would have images with better __________ than a comparable ground-based telescope.
brightness.   [0]
resolution.  ********* [9]
magnification.   ** [2]
(None of the above choices.)  [0]
(Two of the above choices.)  **** [4]
(All of the above choices.)  ****** [6]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  * [1]

Identify how carbon dioxide enters and how it is taken out of Earth's atmosphere. (Only correct responses shown.)
Enters from: volcanoes [50%]
Taken out by: oceans [36%]

Identify the oldest (longest ago) to the youngest (most recent) features on the moon. (Only correct responses shown.)
Craters partially filled in with flat lava plains: oldest (formed longest ago) [37%]
Flat lava plains: middle [32%]
Craters on top of flat lava plains: youngest (formed most recently) [23%]

Identify the oldest (longest ago) to the youngest (most recent) features on Mercury. (Only correct responses shown.)
Large crater basins: oldest (formed longest ago) [41%]
Lava-filled lowlands: middle [46%]
Long curving ridges: youngest (formed most recently) [55%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I didn't quite understand the features of the moon and of Mercury. Could really use some clarification on that."

"Can NC students attend a star gazing party in SLO? Does the SLO campus have a bigger telescope?" (Yes, and yes--the Bowen Observatory on SLO campus has a 14" refractor telescope.)

"The textbook said that 'Earth's oceans and plant life' have been absorbing carbon dioxide. If I selected either of those above, am I correct? And the book also said that humans burning the fossil fuels formed by the ocean creates carbon dioxide so does that mean the ocean creates it too?" (Plant life and fossil fuel burning are contributing factors in the removal and sources of carbon dioxide, but the vast overall removal and source of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere are due to oceans (and tectonic motion) and volcanoes.)

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