Scholars Online Astronomy - Introduction
Course Assignments Overview
This homework page has some extra introductory material to help you get started.
Organizing your Work
The following list gives you a general idea of each task you need to complete for our meetings. You may want to copy it to another file or spreadsheet to help you keep track of your assignment completion.
- To prepare for the next Core course chat session:
- ____Check the homework page on the course content site for reading assignments, weblecture links, study activities, optional web reading
- ____Read the textbook sections assigned, making notes for review and listing questions to ask in chat
- ____Read the web lecture posted by the teacher, making notes for review and listing questions to ask in chat
- ____Complete the mastery exercises for the section.
- ____Write your answer to the question assigned to you in the forum
- ____Study the lab assignment and make note of any questions you have on performing the lab; be sure to ask these in chat or email the instructor
- ____Attend chat and ask your questions, defend your forum essay, and participate in the discussion
- After completing a chapter in the text (check Moodle for due dates)
- ____Complete the mastery exercises and achieve 85% or better
- ____Take the Moodle Chapter Quiz: note these have limited availability dates and plan accordingly!
- ____Perform the assigned lab, analyze your data, and post your lab report by the due date
Getting to know the textbook
Reading about science, and reading a science textbook, require a different set of skills those you might use to read a novel or even a history textbook. Besides text information which is common to all of these, science textbooks include diagrams, graphs, tables and other means of presenting numerical information or process steps that must follow a given order. They also include mathematical formula, and often notes on how to use the formula or other scientific concepts in practical application. As you read, you not only need to take notes the way you might take notes for a history text, but you also need to study diagrams and work through example problems.
Take the time to become familiar with your textbook.
- Table of Contents: Look at the two versions of the table of contents. The first gives you the chapter titles, and shows you the order in which we will discuss topics: learning first the tools and basic concepts we need to understand everything else in the course, then studying our own solar system, individual stars, galaxies, and finally the origins of the universe. The second version of the table of contents lists each section, and the "boxes" that explain key concepts and the use of formula. This version of the table of contents will help you find specific concepts when you need to review.
- Prefaces: The prefatory material of the textbook explains the way the text is put together, and some of the goals the authors used to organize their materials. You should look through this material so that you are familiar with the layout of the book. In particular pay attention to the section labeled To the Student. This section includes some hints on how to make the best use of your science course, including your teacher, chat sessions, and even your fellow students.
- Chapter Goals: Take a look at the first chapter, which will be assigned for you formally for our second chat session. It starts with some introductory remarks. At the bottom of the first page are set of learning goals. Read through them, and when you finish reading the chapter come back and check them: did you actually accomplish the goals for this chapter? Can you answer the questions or discuss the topics associated with each goal?
- CAUTION! sections: As you page through the chapter, you will see some CAUTION! sections. These sections point out concepts or terms which are often misunderstood or misapplied. Paying attention to these short warnings can keep you from making mistakes in your homework or on quizzes.
- Boxes: Some of the material in the chapter is set aside in a box. boxes usually introduce and explain mathematical formula used to calculate astronomical quantities such as distance, temperature, or mass from observational data. You need to stop and read these sections carefully. Work through the example problems yourself so that you are familiar with the process of solving this type of problem. Paying attention and mastering the skills presented in the boxes will help you understand and complete your homework assignments were quickly.
- Chapter Review: At the end of each chapter are some review materials: a list of the key terms you should know (including the page number on which they are first used to make it easier for you to look some up if you do not remember the meaning of the term); a list of key ideas; review questions about concepts; and finally advanced questions which apply the mathematical concepts presented in the chapter, along with activities for your Starry Night Enthusiast planetarium software. Your homework will mostly be drawn from these questions and activities.
- The Starry Night Enthusiast questions: Each chapter includes some planetarium-based exercises. You should attempt to do these as best you can with your own planetarium program.
- Appendices, Glossary, Index: Skip all the way to the end of the book and look at the sections following the last chapter. You will find several appendices which supply useful information for your homework problems! The first several appendices(1-3) give information about planets, the next few give information about individual stars (4-5), and the last set of appendices (6-8) provide important astronomical quantities, physical constants, and some formulae that are frequently used for basic calculations. The glossary provides short definition of terms, along with the chapter in which the concept is first introduced. And finally the index gives you the page number where term is used or explained. It's a good place to go if you can't remember a term that crops up in a homework assignment.
Reading assignment: The Student Study Guide at the Scholars Online Astronomy Course Website
Read the following weblecture before chat: Introduction to the Study of Astronomy
The original edition of the textbook included a code for a free download of Starry Night Enthusiast. Electronic editions do not contain this code, and used editions generally have already used the code so that it will no longer work.
- Starry Night Enthusiast costs $80 and is available from the Starry Night Enthusiast 7 Website. This edition should be sufficient to do the exercises in this course.
- Sky Safari 6 for Mac OS X (http://www.skysafariastronomy.com/) comes in 3 versions; the midlevel "Plus" version is $30 and does most of the things we need to do in this course.
Alternatively, you can get iPad or Android versions of these programs for somewhat less cost, but they are more difficult to use on a tablet, and you may have to jump through more hoops to print sky maps for observing.
Once you have installed your selected program, set it for your own latitude and longitude and read through any available instructions so that you can generate a current picture of the sky from your location.
Chat Preparation Activities
- Essay question: The Moodle forum for the session will assign a specific study question for you to prepare for chat. You need to read this question and post your answer before chat starts for this session.
- Mastery Exercise: The Moodle Mastery exercise for the chapter will contain sections related to our chat topic. Try to complete these before the chat starts, so that you can ask questions.
- Required: Complete the Mastery exercise with a passing score of 85% or better.
- Go to the Moodle and take the quiz for this chat session to see how much you already know about astronomy!
Read through the lab for this week; bring questions to chat on any aspect of the lab, whether you intend not perform it or not. If you decide to perform the lab, be sure to submit your report by the posted due date.
© 2005 - 2018 This course is offered through Scholars Online, a non-profit organization supporting classical Christian education through online courses. Permission to copy course content (lessons and labs) for personal study is granted to students currently or formerly enrolled in the course through Scholars Online. Reproduction for any other purpose, without the express written consent of the author, is prohibited.