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Astronomy Final Exam Information

Astronomy Final Exam Information


The exam will be on Quia and will consist of multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank, odd-one-out and essay questions. 

Your study guide may be used as notes on the exam

You will have only 1 chance to take the exam.

                        Example of an “Odd-One Out” Question:

        Q:  Which one does not belong?   Spring Winter Tuesday Summer

        A:  Tuesday is the odd one out because it is a day and spring, winter, and summer are seasons

Essay questions are answered with a paragraph that starts with a topic sentence, answers the question accurately, and provides scientific details and
examples as support.Examples of essay questions: 

1.       In Main Sequence stars, what is the relationship between brightness and temperature?

2.       Explain why we see different constellations in the night sky at different times of year.

3.       How can scientists learn about our universe’s past simply by looking through telescopes?

4.       Explain, in detail, an astronomical current event that occurred during this semester.

5.       Identify and describe the significance of two of the major players in the history of astronomy.

6.       Describe the organization of our universe from large to small, including at least 5 astronomical terms discussed in class.

7.       What is the importance of constellations: why do humans map the sky?

8.       Identify and describe in detail the two major pieces of evidence that support the theory of the Big Bang.

9.       Describe the full life cycle of our sun, including all major stages of its life.

10.    Draw and label a diagram of the major stages of life of stars, including low and high mass stars.

11.    Why is a Red Giant red in color?

12.    What is nuclear fusion?

13.    Why is it sometimes said that humans are “made of stardust”?

14.    What would happen to a human who tried to travel into a Black Hole?

15.    If we cannot see them, how do we locate black holes in our universe? Include a diagram.

16.    Why does the sun shine?          



A practice exam is available on Quia now through the start of the exam. It consists of randomly selected questions from a bank of possible exam questions.  It is a graded assignment and is required to take at least once, however you are highly encouraged to take the practice exam as many times as you can.  The more you take the practice exam, the more possible exam questions you will see.

Other Resources

You have several resources to use as you review for our exam including class notes, handouts, class activities and discussions, homework assignments, the class webpage (, the practice test on Quia and the internet (I highly suggest


The study guide is not graded and is optional but highly encouraged since you may use the study guide on the final exam as your notes. See the link to the study guide at the bottom of this page.


Anything covered in class is fair game for the final exam.  See below for a list of topics.


n  Cosmology

o    Cosmic distance units (light years, AU, parsecs)

o    Composition of the universe: dark matter, dark energy, light matter

o    Composition of light matter (percentages of H, He and other elements)

o    Hubble’s Law

o    Structure of the universe including open, closed, flat, superclusters, voids, filaments, Great Attractor

o    Theories in cosmology (Branes, String Theory, Big Bang, Big Crunch, Oscillating Universe)

o    Multiple dimensions

o    Standard Candles (Cepheids)

o    End of the universe possibilities

o    Current events and your astronomy article assignment

n  Galaxies

o    The structure of the Milky Way and we came to know how many arms the galaxy actually has

o    Pay special attention to the Milky Way Mapping Lab (know Pulsars, Quasars, etc. and how we know where things are in the galaxy)

o    Hubble’s galaxy classification system of galaxies

o    Other galaxy classification systems

o    Relative ages of galaxies based on their composition of stars

o    Location of galaxies (superclusters, local groups, the great attractor)

o    Future of the galaxy

n  Solar System

o   How the solar system formed (nebular theory)

o   Major structures in the solar system (Sedna, Oort Cloud, Kuiper Belt, Jovian Planets, Terrestrial Planets)

o   The future of the solar system including Pluto’s status as a planet

o   Reasons why Pluto is no longer considered a planet

o   Recent and current NASA missions

o   Know the order of the planets, which have moons, which have atmospheres, which are unique. Pay attention to patterns or features that tell us something about how the planets formed.

o   Describe gravity in terms of mass and distance

o   How do the properties of the solar system objects vary with distance from the Sun?

n  Light

o    Know the speed of light

o    Red shift, blue shift, Doppler effect in terms of light

o    How we are “looking into the past” when looking at the night sky

o    Magnitude systems

o    Know how wavelength and frequency are related for light.

o    Know how the speed of light depends upon wavelength and frequency.

o    Know the difference between flux, luminosity and apparent brightness

n  Astrobiology

o    Characteristics of life

o    Options for evolution on other planets

o    Possibility of contamination from space

o    Planetary protection

o    Know what SETI is and does

o    Drake equation – conservative and optimistic estimates

o    Extremophiles such as ice worms and creatures that live near the mid-ocean ridge

n  Stellar Evolution

o    The structure of the sun

o    The life cycle of low mass stars

o    The life cycle of high mass stars

o    Fusion and how elements heavier than iron are created

o    Black holes (singularity, jet, event horizon, Spaghettification)

o    Supernovas and novas

o    Neutron stars

o    White dwarfs, brown dwarfs, black dwarfs

o    HR Diagram

o    Star Characteristics (color, temperature, stage/age, magnitude)

o    Know what elements the Sun is primarily made up of

n   History of Astronomy

o   Ptolemy’s geocentric view of the solar system

o   Copernicus’ heliocentric view of the solar system

o   Galileo

o   Einstein

o   Kepler

o   Newton

o   Hawking

o   Brahe

n    Observational Astronomy

o   Circumpolar constellations

o   How to use a starfinder

o   Why the constellations change throughout the year

o   Precession of the pole

o   Parts of the celestial sphere (zenith, ecliptic, nadir, NCP, SCP, declination, right ascension/azimuth, …)

o   Rotation and Revolution of Earth

o   Describe the movement of the planets in the sky as opposed to all other objects

o   Retrograde motion

o   Know what motions in the sky determine our day, week, month, and year.

o   Light pollution


Lynée Beck,
May 6, 2011, 10:16 AM