Astronomy 4

Mr. Harrington's Sections

Reading Overview for Exam 1


  1. This reading overview is not a comprehensive study guide; it is only designed to help you prepare for those parts of the textbook reading that will be covered on Exam 1. Please remember that the reading is not the only thing that will be covered on the exam; you should also be prepared for questions from your lecture notes, from the "look and listen" questions from in-class video sessions, and from the material on your class website.
  2. At the end of the "key terms" section of this reading overview is a list of review questions that I think will be particularly useful to you in preparing for this exam.

Key Terms

Chapter: Here and Now

Scientific notation

Solar system



Astronomical Unit (AU)

Light-year (ly)


Milky Way

Milky Way Galaxy


Chapter: A User's Guide to the Sky


Magnitude scale

Celestial sphere



North celestial pole

South celestial pole

Celestial equator

Minute of arc

Second of arc

Angular distance

Angular diameter




Vernal equinox

Autumnal equinox

Summer solstice

Winter solstice




Chapter: Origins of Modern Astronomy


Uniform circular motion

Geocentric universe

Retrograde motion

Parallax (p)

Epicycle (what was it supposed to explain?)

Heliocentric universe


Semimajor axis


Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion

Tycho Brahe


Galileo's discoveries


Suggested Review Questions

"Here and Now" Review Questions
What is the difference between our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe?
What does the size of the star image in a photograph tell you?

"A User's Guide to the Sky" Review Questions 
How does the Greek-letter designation of a star give you clues to its location and brightness?
How do the seasons in Earth's southern hemisphere differ from those in the northern hemisphere?

"Origins of Modern Astronomy" Review Questions
What evidence is there that early human cultures observed astronomical phenomena?
When Tycho observed the new star of 1572, he could detect no parallax.  Why did that result undermine the Ptolemaic system?