1. Compare the sizes or the Earth, Sun, Milky Way Galaxy, and the Universe as a whole.
2. What does an astronomer mean by ‘the Universe’?
3. What is the scientific method, and what is the difference between Science and Religion?
4. Why do different objects such as the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars all rise in the East and set in the West?
5. Why does a day measured by the position of the Sun differ from a day measured by the position of a star? How big is the difference?
6. Is your age the same as the number of times you have orbited the Sun? Explain.
7. Why do we see different stars in Summer than in Winter?
8. Why are there seasons on the Earth?
9. What is precession, and what causes it?
10. Why don’t the seasons move around the calendar as the Earth precesses?
11. Why are there leap years?
12. Why do we see phases of the Moon when half of the Moon is always illuminated?
13. What happens during a Lunar Eclipse; during a Solar Eclipse?
14. Why don't we have Lunar and Solar Eclipses every month?
15. Give an everyday example of the use of parallax.
16. Why must the baseline be long when using parallax to measure astronomical distances?
17. What two measurements must be made to determine the diameter of an astronomical object?
18. How far would you have to travel in order for the constellations to look different?
19. If light travels at 3 108 meters per second and the Sun is 1.5 108 kilometers from the Earth, how long does it take light to get from the Sun to the Earth?
20. How far away is an object whose parallax is 2 seconds of arc across the Earth's orbit?
21. How big is a light year?
22. Do your think an observer on another planet might see eclipses? Why or why not?
contributions did Chinese and Islamic astronomers make during the Dark Ages in
2. Describe the geocentric model of the Universe.
3. What are the main flaws of the Ptolemaic model of the Universe?
4. What is the Copernican model and what is its main flaw?
5. What is a theory, and can a theory ever be proved true?
6. When and why was the Copernican model finally accepted?
7. What is the Copernican Principle?
1. What did Galileo discover which supported the Copernican model? Explain.
2. What was Tycho Brahe's contribution to the advancement of astronomy?
3. State Kepler's three laws of planetary motion.
4. What is meant by saying that Kepler's laws are empirical?
8. In what sense does a baseball fall to Earth rather than the Earth fall on the baseball?
9. Why would a baseball thrown with the same upward speed go higher on the Moon than the Earth?
10. Define 'Escape Speed'.
Origin of the Solar System
1. List at least six properties of the solar system any model of its formation must explain.
2. Give three examples of current properties of the solar system that a model of its formation need not explain. Why?
3. What is the difference between evolutionary and catastrophic theories of the origin of the solar system?
4. Describe the basic features of the condensation theory of the formation of the solar system.
5. What objects, still observable in the solar system today, resulted from fragmentation?
6. What influence did the Earth's position in the Solar nebula have in our planet's final composition?
7. Describe two possible ways in which the Jovian planets might have formed.
8. Why do giant planets 'migrate'?
9. Why are the Jovian planets so much larger that the terrestrial planets?
Formation of the Planets
1. What was the role of the Sun in the formation of the giant planets?
2. What happened to the outer planets as the icy planetesimals disappeared?
3. What are Plutinos, and how did they get to their present orbits?
4. How did the Kuiper belt and the Oort cloud form?
5. Describe some ways that random processes affected the properties of planets.
6. Describe a possible history of a comet, observable from Earth, starting with its birth in the solar nebula near Jupiter.
7. How do astronomers detect extrasolar planets?
8. How do extrasolar planetary systems differ from the Solar System?
9. What is a 'hot Jupiter'?
10. Do observations of extrasolar planets imply that Earth-like planets are rare?
1. Name and describe all the different types of objects found in the solar system. Give one distinguishing characteristic of each. Include a mention of interplanetary space.
2. What is comparative planetology? Why is it useful? What is its goal?
3. What astronomical observations must be made to determine the mass of a planet? Explain.
4. In what ways is the solar system orderly?
5. What are some disordered aspects of the solar system?
6. Name the Terrestrial planets. Why are they called 'Terrestrial'?
7. Name the Jovian planets and explain the name.
8. Name three important differences between Terrestrial and Jovian planets.
9. Compare the properties of Pluto with those of the Terrestrial and Jovian planets. How would you classify Pluto and why?
10. Why are asteroids and meteoroids important to planetary astronomy?
11. Comets vaporize in the Earth's atmosphere. How do we know their composition?
Exploring the Solar System
1. Why has knowledge of the Solar System increased greatly in recent years?
2. How and why do space scientists use gravity assists to propel spacecraft through the Solar System?
3. Which planets have been visited by spacecraft from Earth, and on which planets have spacecraft actually landed?
4. Why do you think Galileo and Cassini took such circuitous routes to Jupiter and Saturn while Pioneer and Voyager did not?
5. How do you think NASA's new policy of less complex, smaller, and cheaper spacecraft – with shorter times between design and launch – will affect the exploration of the outer planets? Will missions like Galileo and Cassini be possible in future?
6. Prior to radar, how were distances measured in the solar system?
7. How is radar ranging used to determine the Astronomical Unit (A.U.)?
8. What is the key ingredient in the modern condensation theory of the Solar System's origin that was missing or unkown in the nebular theory?
9. Give three examples of how condensation theory explains the observed features of the present-day Solar System.
10. Why are the Jovian planets so much more massive that the terrestrial planets?
11. How did the temperature structure of the solar nebula affect the planetary composition?