My first favorite post that I made this semester is actually from the first conceptual objective of I can explain how astronomical objects (sun, planets, stars) appear to move in the sky. This post was my first exposure to astronomy and it laid out the groundwork for the rest of the semester and how to do blog posts. I enjoyed this conceptual objective because it taught me something that I did not know before, namely how the Sun warms up the Earth in the summer months and why it is colder in the Winter months. The reason was not as I expected. I also enjoyed the blog post I had to make for this objective because it was my first exposure to looking through astronomy articles for relevant information, which I came to enjoy.
My second favorite post was from the third conceptual objective, or I can explain the causes of Moon phases and eclipses. This blog post was fun because the article was very easy to find and relate to the conceptual objective. This was another conceptual objective where I learned something interesting that I did not know before. At first I had trouble remembering the phases of the Moon, but after some time I was able to get them down and it has been fun watching the Moon phases ever since. The article I found for this blog post was an interesting read too. I learned some things about different types of eclipses and how the Earth plays into them by casting its shadow on the Moon.
The third blog post I really enjoyed was from the 16th conceptual objective, I can compare the Milky Way Galaxy to other galaxies. I enjoyed this blog post because it merged what I enjoyed from the prior conceptual objective about just the Milky Way Galaxy with my interest about the universe at large and other galaxies within it. I enjoyed writing and researching this blog post because since the beginning of this class I was curious about information regarding to the forming of our and other galaxies. I also was curious about how astronomers were able to compare data they observed from our galaxy and extrapolate that into other galaxies. This also helped me to clarify an idea I had about the possibility for life elsewhere in the universe besides Earth. The enormous amount of distances between star systems is amazing, but the even bigger distances between galaxies is just insane to think about.
Before taking this class, I thought astronomy was boring. I had an old neighbor who was a star gazer and she tried to get me interested in astronomy as a child, but I just had no interest, I barely thought about it. It was not until I got older that the mysteries of the universe had any relevance to me. This class helped me understand things about the universe that I had questions about in recent years.
I think that reading about current events in astronomy is fun, way more interesting than I first thought it would be. I even found a new website (astronomy.com) that I am going to frequent more because of this class. I thought that all of the articles I was going to find were going to be dense subjects full of information that only makes sense to insiders, but I found that most of the articles I read actually put astronomical subjects into layman’s terms very well.
The part of the class that was least important to my learning of astronomy was all of the conceptual objects that were fairly math intensive. I have never had a brain for mathematics and those particular objectives became lost on me. Thankfully I was able to get through them. However, I did originally think that this class was going to be way more math heavy than it actually was. There were a few conceptual objectives that were actually very easy to understand and I picked them up fairly quickly.
I felt that I learned more than I expected about the universe/solar system/stars, because I didn’t really expect to learn that much in this class. I thought it was going to be all information that would be lost on me because of a need for deep scientific understanding of other subjects to be able to follow the class. I was surprised by the amount of information I was able to understand. That is not to say that there was not many subjects in the class that were difficult to understand though. I did have a rough time a few weeks out of this semester and spent many stressful hours writing blog posts about objectives i did not feel I had a good grasp on.
When I compare how I felt about this class at the start of the semester to how I feel now about this class, I would say that I am very glad I actually stuck with it. During the first week of class I became very discouraged. I was mostly shocked by the odd grading system as well as the amount of information I perceived as being too difficult to understand. I also received some advice early on from others about the difficulty of the class and was almost persuaded to drop. However, I obviously decided to stick it out though and I feel I am better for it. I learned many things about the universe that I actually had questions about from my own independent thinking and a few things that really surprised me. I think I had an instinctive problem with the grading system because it is so different from usual grading systems and it does not leave much room for mistakes. It seems to be on par with a pass/fail system. However, I completely understand why the grading system is the way it is and Mr. Morrison’s reasoning for his system. One thing I wanted throughout the semester though is more of a focus on learning objectives through use of the universe projector (cosmic projector?). Every time we used it, it was fun and gave a nice visual to explain what we were talking about. I realize that not all of the conceptual objectives lend themselves well to using the projector, but still, it was a fun part of class.
All in all this class was more enjoyable and interesting than I originally thought. I would encourage future students to take the class and to stick it out through the rough times.