Thursday, May 21, 2009

An informal quiz...

Based solely on my experiences teaching undergrad students, I've found there's quite a few commonly held misconceptions about astronomy. See if you can answer these seemingly intuitive astronomy questions. (No looking 'em up on the interwebs! That's cheating!)

Answers will be posted in one week...if you really don't want to wait until then, email me and I'll send you the answer key.

  • Why does the Earth experience seasons?
  • Why is there a 24 hour day-night cycle?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Why are sunsets red?
  • How does the Earth compare to other planets?
  • Why does a feather fall slower than a bowling ball?
  • Why does the moon go through different phases?
  • Why is the moon bright?
  • Can you see the moon during the day?
  • Does the moon rotate?
  • Why does the moon appear larger on the horizon?
  • Is there gravity on the moon?
  • Compare the Sun to the stars.
  • Why does the Sun shine?
  • What happens to the Sun at night?
  • What is the sun made of?
  • What causes a solar eclipse?
Universe, etc:
  • What's the difference between the Solar System, the Galaxy, and the Universe?
  • What is a star?
  • How are planets different than stars?
  • Where do the stars go during the day?
  • What's the farthest human beings have ever traveled in space?


  1. What a great quiz! Can't wait to read the answers and compare to mine. (Brings back fond memories of "Astronomy for Nonscience Majors" in junior year :) )


  2. Mike, Your blog is always a pleasure to read. You have to be one of the smartest persons in your field. You remind me of a dear, older but rather sexy friend. I hope you aren't offended by my comment. ;-)

  3. A good quiz. I had answers for all of the questions, though I'm not sure if they're right...

  4. I love your Blog!
    Big kiss!

  5. The Moon section quiz questions are totally new for me greetings form