Wednesday, 2 March 2011

SXR208: The Preschool assessment

Its nearly time to go to this, its come around quite quickly.

Before you can go though, you have to complete a pre school assessment. This is based on the text book provided with the course, and consists of an online test with, in this case, 28 questions.
I thought the questions might be quite easy, but I struggled to answer more than a couple without referring back to the book.
It has questions on the following
  • Positional Astronomy (5) - this is things like right acension and declination, local zeniths and so on. How to find stars and the celestial sphere. Apart from one nasty question where a labelled star was rather ambiguous, and I picked the one to the left of the label, when it should have been to the right, I did ok on most of these.
  • Astronomical Detectors (5) - focal lengths, resolution of telescopes, all covered under this topic.
  • Spectrographs (3) - use of the grating equation, and other details to do with interpreting spectra of stars comes under this category.
  • Photometry (5) - Things to do with light, star magnitudes and relative brightness under this.
  • Interpreting images (5) - Here you are given pictures of craters and similar on other planets/moons/asteroids. You have to interpret the features, based on light angles and also measure the features given the scale of the image.
  • Experimental uncertainties (6) - How to deal with errors, ending with an absolute stinker of a question where you need to combine experimental errors in an equation involving powers and multiplication to work out what sort of error in one parameter requires in the measurement of another. I did quite a bit of algebra on this, and amazed myself after getting thoroughly confused doing it twice, adapting an equation rather freely, but coming out with a number that was marked correct.
  • Meade Simulator (1) - In this question you are provided with a computer simulation of the Meade Telescope control software, and have to calibrate it and then slew it to a couple of stars and end up with a result that the software then checks. I got it wrong the first time, because I forgot to turn off all the handy feature which projects a map onto the sky! Not very realistic!
Anyway - for most of them you get 3 attempts - and a hint if you get it wrong twice. Your score is reduced if you don't get it right first time.  My results were:
  • 1 where I took the full 3 attempts (that dratted labelled star in the first set)
  • 5 where I had a second go - so correct at the second attempt. Some through stupidity, and some were a fair cop.
  • The rest I managed on the first attempt - after much checking in some cases.
Anyway, so now I'm ready to go - in just over a weeks time!

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