Online reading assignment: the Milky Way (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2018
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 enjoyed learning about the Milky Way. I thought it was interesting to see how large it is compared to everything else, which blows my mind."

"The Milky Way, considering I can see it at my house, so learning about it will be interesting."

"That even though we are in the Milky Way, we can still tell what size and shape it is by using different methods."

"The fog model because it explains why we can only see part of our Milky Way and not the whole thing, and it is one of the easier models to understand."

"That all the stars in our galaxy are actually in their own orbit, they're not static in their position in space. As Earth moves around the sun, the sun is moving in its own orbit around the Milky Way."

"Dark matter."

"The formation theroies, because they started to give me a sort of eye-opening experience as to crazy is was that the Milky Way Galaxy had been created and how everything had fallen into place to create the galaxy, let alone create life on Earth."

"Okay, this is going to sound dumb, but since we have been studying spiral and elliptical galaxies, it just hit me hard that we are in a spiral one. We are in between the Sagittarius and Perseus Arms! Like I knew the Milky Way was spiral, but I now I'm looking at it and it's crazy that life exists in these things."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Without being able to see the entire Milky Way, how are we able to ascertain its shape and look?"

"Globular clusters--it's weird how they can determine how far we are from the center of the Milky Way."

"Dark matter is confusing, because what is it?"

"The density waves were a little confusing for me, and also the radio wave/far-IR maps of the Milky Way."

"I found the spiral arms and spurs to be confusing, what are they made of? Just living and dying stars?"

"How stars form inside of the spiral arms. It says that they form inside gas, but where does the gas come from? Does it come from stars that have died?"

"That spiral arms are just an illusion? Density waves? Why does it have to be like this?"

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.  *** [3]
Not very much.  ******* [7]
Barely seen it.  ** [2]
(Never been able to see it.)  ***** [5]
(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%.  [0]
10%.  ******* [7]
50%.  ** [2]
100%.  [0]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  **** [4]

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?
"Use my phone camera."

"Use your phone, you don't even have to turn it on--if you get it in the right light you can see your reflection."

"Use the back of a metal spoon or any shiny metal object if you camp that way."

"Fill a pot or bucket with water, set it on the ground and let the water get still, then look!"

"Reflection off a car window."

"Look at the reflection in a river or body of water."

"The facial expressions of the people I am with."

"Ask a fellow camper. Or don't bother, since we are camping, odds are that other campers are having just as much of a bad hair day as me."

"Just touch your hair."

"Look at your shadow to see an outline of your hair to see if its frizzy or not."

Look at PimpStar Rims (*.html) for cars, or MonkeyLectric Rims (*.html) for bikes. Briefly explain how they work.
"The wheels have built in LEDs that flash or strobe at a certain speed, matching the speed of the wheel, to create the illusion of a still image."

"They are basically led lights hooked up to your rims and use wifi to display whatever image you choose to show while your wheels are spinning."

"A strip of lights cause the illusion of the entire wheel to light up when moving--you know, technology."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I love camping...in a trailer."

"Can we, as a class, go camping for our final and look at the stars all night with telescopes?" (I feel that I can't trust you enough yet to tell me if I were having a bad hair day while camping.)

"Would you ever get PimpStar Rims?" (I already have something like that on my bicycle tires.)

"Will there be any extra credit opportunities for this semester?" (At least one more, next week.)

"Do you like Star Wars?" (#happybeeps)

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