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

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2016
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.
"That even the slightest tilt of the moon's orbit when it is new or full is the reason that an eclipse does not occur. I was always curious as to why they were rare."

"The classifications of astronomers in history as a mover versus a disprover. The idea that some people built up ideas while others tore them down was something I hadn't really thought about before, but this is a pretty common idea."

"How so many astronomers over time came up with different theories and discover new things about the moon and stars and whatnot, and over time these have become the knowledge of astronomy today. I just love how people build on other people's findings and how that information grows."

"The next solar eclipse in the US is on my birthday next year! I think that's so cool & I definitely wanna visit Oregon to see it."

"I always thought that the lunar eclipse was seen by everyone. It was always broadcast on television around the world so I assumed that everyone could step out of their houses at night and see the eclipse. But after reading the presentation, I found out that that is not the case and not everyone is able to see it. It depends on where you are located."

"How lunar eclipses only occur during a full and solar eclipses only occur during new moon."

"Whether there is an eclipse or not, the sun is bright enough to burn your eyes and cause permanent damage. It can be misleading to constantly look for the eclipse, because all though it may be cool, there is a risk of damaging your eyesight."

"I found reading about Tycho Brahe interesting, mainly because it was fun to read about the namesake for my old dog Tycho."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"It's hard for me to remember where the sun, moon, and Earth are in relation to each other and what's blocking what during an eclipse."

"That the reason a lunar eclipse does not occur every full moon, because the orbit of the moon is the moon is usually not tilted edge-on. I found this part a little confusing because why is the moon not tilted edge-on at all times?"

"Why the moon is as red as it is during a lunar eclipse."

"The differences between types of eclipses."

"It says in the textbook that a partial lunar eclipse can occur if the moon passes a little too far to the north or south of the center of the Earth's shadow. Why is that the case? What would make the moon 'tip?'"

"Trying to remember the important astronomers and their contributions."

"All the astronomers blended together while reading the text. I found it confusing having to remember who goes with what." "

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.  [0]
Gemini.  [1]
Cancer.  * [1]
Leo.  * [1]
Virgo.  [1]
Libra.  [0]
Scorpio.  [0]
Sagittarius.  * [1]
Capricorn.  [0]
Aquarius.  [0]
Pisces.  *************************************** [39]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  *** [3]

Match the phase of the moon during these eclipse types. (Only correct responses shown.)
Total solar eclipse: new moon [86%]
Partial solar eclipse: new moon [65%]
Annular solar eclipse: new moon [59%]
Total lunar eclipse: full moon [84%]
Partial lunar eclipse: full moon [67%]

Place these astronomers in chronological order of their historical contribution to astronomy. (Only correct responses shown.)
Aristotle [90%]
Ptolemy [84%]
Copernicus [86%]
Tycho [76%]
Kepler [63%]
Galileo [61%]
Newton [86%]

Match these terms with their descriptions. (Only correct responses shown.)
Ideas accepted as truth without further examination: first principles [84%]
Predictions that could be tested by observations: hypotheses [69%]
Universal statements of cause and effect: rational laws [86%]
Describe phenomena without explaining why it occurs: empirical laws [78%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Can you explain more about the different types of eclipse?" (Yes. After reading some of your responses for this reading assignment, we will need to discuss this more in class.)

"How much will we have to memorize about the astronomers? And will we have to know the dates that belong to what time astronomers founded things?" (Concentrate on their contribution to understanding how and why planets move across the sky. Dates are not important; the emphasis is on the sequence of how they built upon or refuted the work of previous astronomers.)

"What is the time span of starwheels? Taking precession into the occasion, when would this starwheel become out of date and when did it become relevant (regardless of when it was produced)?" (Star chart catalogs are typically updated in print every fifty years, and those changes are only barely noticeable on the scale of your starwheel, so it should be okay to use give or take several hundred years before and after this date.)

"Have you ever been to any astronomy conventions or telescope maker conventions?" (I've presented posters and workshops at astronomy education research workshops. Which means I do research by studying you--that is, how you learn astronomy.)

"Do you believe in astrology to make predictions about your future?" (Let me consult my Mattel™ Magic 8 Ball®.)

"Why do you use SurveyMonkey instead of Google Surveys?" (At least for now, SurveyMonkey handles scheduling, filters, and question logic better than Google Surveys.)

"I have started noticing the sky more often and going outside with my starwheel. (Cool. Cool cool cool.)

What is your favorite TV show P-dog? Big Bang Theory? (Eh, I'm not a fan--Big Bang Theory shows people with autism spectrum disorders in order to make fun of them. Community shows how people with autism spectrum disorders have fun. #poppop)

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