Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Early astronomers must've had it tough: they worked in Apollo-ing conditions

I can't believe it's March already! Spring Break is next week and so class work has picked up quite suddenly with midterms, papers, and last-minute assignments. Sometimes it feels like professors try to cram in these last-minute assignments right before the breaks (especially due to the few cancellations we had this semester caused by the snowy weather).

So far I've completed three of my four midterms; I took the astronomy midterm last week, the human sexuality midterm this past Monday, and I handed in my observation project portfolio & paper for qualitative methods on Tuesday. Tomorrow I will complete the Hebrew bible II midterm, and then I'll wrap up the week by handing in my astronomy lab book on Friday.

Astronomy has certainly been an interesting course, to say the least. It is considered a "cop-out" science to some at Clark, mostly because it mainly attracts those majors who are not familiar with or do not want to take part in the traditional sciences: physics, biology, chemistry, etc. Clark requires that all students take certain perspectives (e.g. natural science, aesthetic, historical (the complete list found here)) before graduation, and so there tend to be courses that act to fulfill these requirements but possibly not in the traditional sense. For example, many students take the course Creative Actor to fulfill the aesthetic perspective, whereas I took an art history course. Neither is better, per say, but allows for more flexibility for the students to elect the courses that they find most appealing.

Anyway, so it's of little surprise to me that many of my fellow psychology majors are taking astronomy as well. It certainly has not been a cop-out, though! The course has been rather demanding, involving three 50-minute lectures per week as well as one lab session per week (spent either observing outside on Clark's own astronomy observation deck, or watching a film chosen by the professor - a film generally full of great clothes and glasses from the 90's). In addition, we've also been taking part of a separate moon observation project, in which each student is required to observe the moon twice per day at a time corresponding with their birthday month (i.e. I was born in October, so I look & make note of the moon at 10am and 10pm).

This course has required more work than I would have anticipated, but overall the class material is interesting. My favorite part is when the professor does demonstrations to display certain phenomena - during one class he stood on a rotating wheel and held a weight in each hand, showing how he spun faster when the weights were tucked closer to his body. I'm pretty sure I saw a few people taking videos and pictures on their phones (he did look quite silly).

Alright, I'm off to study and finish up the work I need to do for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the weather as it starts to warm up a bit!

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