Unit 8 : Calendar System : Ancient Astronomy : Babylonian Astronomy and the Origin of Astrology : Unit Questionnaire

Unit 1: How to Point to a Star
Unit 2: Where on Earth Are You?
Unit 3: Earth's Rotation and the Sun's Apparent Motion
Unit 4: Yearly Changes in the Sky
Unit 5: Seasons and Climate
Unit 6: Sundials
Unit 7: Navigation
Unit 8: Ancient Astronomy
Unit 9: Constellations

End of Unit 8 Assignment

This assignment consists of four parts. The first is a review with a couple of practice questions linked directly to their answers. The second is a short quiz that you take using Blackboard. It will be instantly scored for you by Blackboard; you only get once chance to take it, however, so be sure you are ready! The third part is an essay question. The question appears below; when you are ready to answer it, log on to BLackboard and submit your essay. Finally, for each unit, you should log on to Blackboard and contribute a question, an answer, or a comment to one of the posted topics. If you would like to introduce a new topic instead of contributing to an existing thread, please send your topic idea to your instructor. If you find the material in this unit challenging, you might want to start with the "discussion" part of the assignment in order to get some help with some of the ideas.

Brief summary of the unit

In this unit, we've discussed some of the ways that astronomy (and astrology) were part of human cultures in the past. The phenomena studied in NorthStar are mostly ones that could have been, and were, observed long ago without the need for telescopes, modern physics, or even in some cases without math.

Practice Question One

A temple in Egypt is set up to allow sunlight to hit the altar on four important dates of the year: The two equinoxes and the two solstices. If this same design and orientation were used to build a temple in Iowa would it still allow sunlight to hit the altar on these same four dates? If not, what kind of alteration would you need to make to get the light to the alter on all four dates?


Practice Question Two

"Heliacal Rising" is one of a number of ways to check that a year has passed. What is "heliacal rising" and what apparent motion of the Sun makes this work?

Essay question

You are exploring in a remote location along Earth’s equator, and you find the following arrangement of neatly carved stone pillars:

From the center, in what direction should you look to see sunrise on the equinoxes?  Sunset on the equinoxes?  (A direction may be indicated by “center to F” or “center to A”, and an angle by, for example, A-Center-B.)

What would you need to measure in order to discover whether this arrangement singles out the direction to sunrise on the solstices? 

If you find both equinox and solstice alignments are marked, then it is a reasonable hypothesis that the purpose of the monument was to observe the position of sunrise over the year.  What if only the equinox sunrise and sunset positions are marked – is this still a reasonable hypothesis?  Why or why not?


Go on to the next page