Online reading assignment: the Milky Way (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2015
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.
"I liked the lights on your bike."

"The Milky Way has always intrigued me since I've been able to see it since I was a small child; it's cool to know why/how it works now."

"I found that there is a bit of an explanation of what dark matter is and that there are some theories that seem that they are very plausible. I hope that we are able to have a definite answer to what dark matter is in the near future."

"What I found interesting is that there are currently two possible candidates for the composition of dark matter: MACHOs--MAssive Compact Halo Objects, maybe dim red dwarfs and black holes and other modest-sized objects floating out in the halo; or, WIMPs--Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, proposed particles with a substantive amount of mass that don't interact with light, floating around and passing between and through everything else in the galaxy."

"I thought that the fog model was interesting. I didn;t know that astronomers looked out the top and bottom of our galaxy to see and that looking through the center there was too much dust and gas to see."

"I actually thought that the spiral arms of the galaxy was interesting. I finally know why it looks like the arms are spiraling towards the center."

"The fact that our galaxy has a spherical and a disk component was quite interesting, because it inspired me on a sculpture."

"Although I'm not into astrology, the fact that more than half of the cataloged globular clusters and that the center of the Milky Way is in or near Sagittarius is vey cool because Sagittarius is my birth sign."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I'm not confused."

"I am confused on how we know how big the galaxy is."

"Understanding the difference between the disk component and spherical component among other terms. I think I just have a hard time picturing it."

"Theories of spiral arm formation."

"A lot of it seems really confusing because this is all so crazy I can't help but think like, how do you know, y'know?"

"Everything about dark matter is still very confusing to me."

"I don't really understand how our galaxy is compared to the hair on our heads."

"It all seemed pretty straight forward. Perhaps a little more clarification on the PimpStar Rims, conceptually."

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.  ************ [10]
Not very much.  ******** [8]
Barely seen it.  * [1]
(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%.  ***** [4]
5%.  *** [3]
10%.  **** [4]
50%.  ** [2]
100%.  ** [2]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ****** [5]

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?
"You'll know if you are able to see strands of hair sticking out in your peripheral vision."

"Run your fingers thru your hair."

"You can ask another person to tell you how your hair looks and if there is not another person to help you you can use the sun and your shadow to help you see if you are having a bad hair day."

"I would feel my hair and be able to tell how out of place it was."

"I'm going really gray so everyday is a bad hair day."

"I would brush my hair and feel my head just to see if there are any hairs out of place."

"You could look at your reflection in a lake or pond and do your hair with that."

"Snap a selfie! :)"

Look at PimpStar Rims (*.html) for cars, or MonkeyLectric Rims (*.html) for bikes. Briefly explain how they work.
"PimpStar Rims projects any image on the cars wheels via wifi as a person is driving. MonkeyLectric Rims show designs and light effects onto bicycle wheels."

"They are rapidly blinking lights that can be coordinated to create an image or message when swept across our field of vision."

"The PimpStar Rims is a strobe modulation technique, as it looks like a strobe light technology."

"They work tbe way they do because they're coordinated how and when to turn off certain lights at a given point in time."

"They work tbe way they do because they're coordinated how and when to turn off certain lights at a given point in time.oodoo?"

"I honestly have no idea how they work but it's cool either way."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"P-dog I need your help more than ever."

"Are you totally frustrated with our class?" (No. My physics class, on the other hand, is a different story. #smh)

"Does your bike really have those rims? Where did you get them?  Because that's freaking awesome! (Yes, my bike is that awesome at night. You can get them online.)

"Is this on the midterm?" (No. Only material covered up through Quiz 6.)

"I don't know if you were asked this yet, but do you believe that aliens exist?" (Yes, I would bet money on it. Maybe just a dollar.)

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