The First Exam will cover material presented in the lectures, the Prologue and Chapter 1 (excluding Galileo).
The Exams for this course are true/false, multiple choice and short answer format. The review questions at the end of the chapters are typical, including the advanced questions. Below I supply a few sample questions so you know what to expect. Note: this sample is representative, not comprehensive.
1. Write 0.00035 in scientific notation (ie powers of 10).
2. What is the volume of the sun, which is a sphere of radius 7 x 105 km.
3. T/F The composition of the Earth is representative of the composition of the Universe.
4. How many seconds of arc are in 2 degrees ?
5. T/F : The 88 constellations we know today all had their roots in the Greek culture 2000 to 3000 years ago.
6. T/F : In Charlottesville (latitude +38) a star 37 degrees from the north celestial pole never sets.
7. Which of the following does the meridian NOT pass through
8. If you took a time-elapse photo of the sky at night you would see
9. At what point on the Earth would you see the North Celestial Pole on the horizon?
10. In the Northern Hemisphere, the day the sun crosses the celestial equator while moving south is called
11. What is the zodiac ?
12. Give two reasons why Aristotle believed the Earth was spherical.
13. Give two reasons why Aristotle believed the Earth was stationary.
14. On Planet X, the sun is overhead in the city Znargum, but is 9 degrees from overhead in the city of Rozell, a distance of 1000 stepfars away. The circumference of Planet X is
15. T/F According to Hipparchus, a star of magnitude 3 is brighter than a star of magnitude 6.
16.The position of the North Celestial Pole
17. Sketch and label the cosmological model of Ptolemy. Explain briefly the role played by each aspect of the model.
18. Which of the following was NOT true about Copernicus' model of the universe?
Do the 18 questions, write down your choice of answers, then check yourself with these Answers Think about the ones you missed. If you missed several, redouble your study efforts ! Also, dont forget the TA office hours in room 267 of 9am - noon (Tues, Thurs) and 3:30pm - 6:30pm (Mon, Wed, Fri). And my own office hours 2pm to 3pm (Mon, Wed, Fri).
Here is a list of the major themes we have discussed in class, presented partly in question form. This should give you some idea of the range and scope of the topics. It is compelmentary to the concept list you got at the beginning of the class, and should help you review the material.
A. Understand the basic nested sequence of structures and their sizes in the universe : planets, stars, galaxies, universe. Know the common units of distance that astronomers use.
B. Be familiar with the Powers of 10 notation for numbers and be able to rearrange simple formulae to evaluate one of the terms.
C. Understand the concept of Lookback time, and how it allows us to observe cosmic evolution directly.
D. Know what atoms are, and the nature of chemical elements. Know that most of the universe is Hydrogen (75%) or Helium (23%) with all other elements comprising only 2%.
E. Understand the use of angles to measure distances between objects in the sky. Know, roughly, the "handy angles" -- pinky/thumb/fist/stretched hand = 1/2/10/20 degrees. Know the different units of angles : degrees, arcminutes, arcseconds.
F. Understand the concept of the Celestial Sphere, its origin, and its continued use. Be able to construct an observers view of the celestial sphere, including : horizon, zenith, nadir, cardinal directions, meridian. Know the coordinate system Altitude and Azimuth, and know where to locate the north celesial pole. What are the north and south circumpolar zones ?
G. Be able to draw the Celestial Sphere in relation to the earth, including : North and South Celestial poles, celestial equator, ecliptic.
H. Understand the difference between diurnal, annual, and precessional motions.
I. What is the ecliptic and how does it differ from the celestial equator? What are the names for the locations where these two intersect, and what are the seasons when the sun is at these locations. Understand why the sun and planets are always found close to the ecliptic.
J. Understand the nature of constellations, their origins (in the western world), their boundaries, and their limited use in modern astronomy. How long does it take constellations to change their shapes ? What are the Zodiac constellations ? What is an asterism ?
K. Know, roughly, the Greek view of the nature of the world and the heavens. Why did Aristotle know the earth was spherical ? Why did he argue that the earth was stationary and all other celestial objects revolved around us ? Which Greek astronomer thought otherwise, and was essentially correct in his cosmology ?
L. Know Eratosthenes' method for measuring the circumference of the earth. Know the basic formulae for the circumference and area of a circle, and the area and volume of a sphere.
M. Which Greek astronomer developed the magnitude system for ranking star brightnesses, and made extensive star charts leading to his discovery of precession ? What causes precession ? Be able to describe the motion of the earth's rotation axis, the period of this motion, and the effect on the equinoxes. Why is the sun NOT in aries at the end of march, even though someone born then has the sign of aries ?
N. Understand Ptolemy's synthesis of the Greek geocentric cosmology, including : Deferent, epicycle, equant. What is retrograde motion for a planet, and how does Ptolemy's system explain it. How do we now understand the origin of retrograde motion ?
O. Know the Copernican heliocentric cosmology. Was it more accurate at predicting planetary positions than Ptolemy's system, and if not why was it preferable? How does it differ from our modern system?