Online reading assignment: atmosphere problems, Earth, the moon, Mercury (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall 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 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.
"You get a better resolution from the telescope if you are in a remote location. It's interesting because I thought telescopes were so powerful, they could compensate for the lights from towns."

"Our atmosphere's 'ocean of air' and turbulence--how the winds in the atmosphere itself could ruin the view through a telescope."

"Even though telescopes are designed to see the perfectly, it's interesting how you still need to be in a remote area in order to see the sky clearly."

"The whole light pollution thing was interesting--it's kind of sad, I didn't know that light pollution was even a thing."

"I've always thought it would take billions of years for satellites and other astronomical spacecraft to be able to capture images of faraway things in the universe, judging it would take forever to get there? But it's nice to finally understand that our spacecrafts don't have to travel very far, but rather just need strong enough telescopes to capture the images. And, at first only seeing telescopes as insignificant machines to make far away things look bigger, it's enlightening to see how much information on our universe we've gained from telescopic observations alone. I'll never take telescopes for granted again. THANK YOU TELESCOPES!"

"The origin of the moon--how in the past two centuries the astronomers developed three different hypotheses for the origins of Earth's moon."

"Continental drift--I remember learning about it in middle school and I think it's cool how the continental plates are still moving."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Adaptive optics. How is the secondary mirror 'flexible?'"

"How carbon dioxide enters and how it is taken out of the atmosphere on Earth."

"How plate tectonics works or the cause thereof. Or why Earth has different plates that make up the face of it."

"Which features came first on Mercury or the moon. I felt like they would have the same order, but I’m not sure."

"I am unsure which Mercury feature came first and I would like further explanation on it."

"What features of the moon and Mercury are the oldest or youngest."

"I was under the impression that the moon's flat plains would be the oldest since it's just mostly undisturbed land, while the craters would be the youngest since if they were so old erosion of some kind would have flattened them out. I guess since there's no atmosphere or weather it must be a bit different than what I expected."

A large modern optical telescope in outer space would have images with better __________ than a comparable ground-based telescope.
brightness.   **** [4]
resolution.   ** [2]
magnification.   *** [3]
(None of the above choices.)   [0]
(Two of the above choices.)   * [1]
(All of the above choices.)   **** [4]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)   [0]

Stars to appear to "twinkle" in the night sky because of...
"Stars twinkle because the starlight to get slightly bent as it travels from the distant star through the atmosphere. Some light gets to us and some get bent slightly."

"The atmosphere is interfering with the light traveling to our eyes."

Identify how carbon dioxide enters and how it is taken out of Earth's atmosphere.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Enters atmosphere from: volcanoes [43%]
Taken out of atmosphere by: oceans [43%]

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) [50%]
Flat lava plains: middle [14%]
Craters on top of flat lava plains: youngest (formed most recently) [29%]

Identify the oldest (longest ago) to the youngest (most recent) features on Mercury.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Large crater basins: oldest (formed longest ago) [43%]
Lava-filled lowlands: middle [43%]
Long curving ridges: youngest (formed most recently) [36%]

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I would like to learn and understand better about how does the greenhouse effect works? I got a little confused."

"This class is super-interesting and you're a great teacher P-dog!"

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