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Module 1: Introduction Activity 1: Introduction to Exploring the Solar System Enceladus, satellite of Saturn Click the PgDn key to advance to the next.

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Presentation on theme: "Module 1: Introduction Activity 1: Introduction to Exploring the Solar System Enceladus, satellite of Saturn Click the PgDn key to advance to the next."— Presentation transcript:

1 Module 1: Introduction Activity 1: Introduction to Exploring the Solar System Enceladus, satellite of Saturn Click the PgDn key to advance to the next slide!

2 Summary: In this Activity, we will investigate (a) Navigating within the Activities, (b) Structure of the Units, (c) How to avoid dropping out! (d) When we get it wrong, and (e) About Exploring the Solar System. Click the PgDn key when you are ready to advance to the next slide! about the Units in general about this Unit in particular

3 You have already met the first rule for navigating through these Activities - use the PgDn key to go forward to the next slide. * (a) Navigating within the Activities There are two other ways you can go forward, (1) click the left mouse button (try it now!) As you study this unit, Exploring the Solar System, you will work through many Powerpoint 97 * Activities like this one. We suggest that you use the supplied Powerpoint 97 * viewer, but if you are using Powerpoint 97 * itself, make sure that you are in “full screen mode” - if not, click on the symbol on the lower left to fill the screen. (If there are no symbols, don’t worry - that means that you are already in full screen mode.) * For Macs: click the mouse button * (98 for Macs) If you’re using Internet Explorer under Windows, then you should be viewing this page embedded in your browser window. If you would like to view it in full screen mode, right-click on the window and select “Full screen” from the pop- up menu.

4 * (2) or go to the next slide by clicking the right mouse button and choosing “Next” or “Advance” from the menu which appears - try it now! The Crab Supernova Remnant * For Macs: hold down the Control (Ctrl) key and click the mouse button

5 * The Magellanic Clouds (The arrow keys can also be used to navigate forward and backwards from slide to slide.) When you are ready, use your favourite method to move on to the next slide. * For Macs: hold down the Control (Ctrl) key and click the mouse button To go back to the previous slide, you can use the PgUp key, or click the right mouse button and choose “Previous” - try these now!

6 In the previous slide we presented the text all at once. However we will usually present the text a paragraph at a time, to give you a chance to think about each point. You’ll often need to use a left mouse click (or PgDn, etc) to bring up the next paragraph - try it now. * * For Macs: click the mouse button So that you will know when the text and animations for a particular slide are complete, the Swinburne crest will appear in the bottom-right corner of the slide.

7 * For Macs: click the mouse button Sometimes we’ll give you a chance to find out more about a topic, by saying something like “if you want to find out more about this topic, follow this link” Place the cursor over the underlined text,follow this link and click on it with the left mouse button *. Try it now!

8 The Trifid Nebula You are back in the main part of the Activity. (If you ever get ‘lost’ in an Activity, just hit the Esc key and go back to the beginning.)

9 Links to web pages will pop up an external browser and links to movies will either play the animation within PowerPoint or use Quicktime. Sometimes a presentation will contain a link to an external file. These might be to movies contained on the CD-ROM, or to web pages on the Internet. The Helix Nebula

10 Click on the link below to see an animation of the Earth and Moon. Click here to see the animation

11 Occasionally we’ll provide you with a link to a site on the Internet. These links will only work if you are connected to the Internet, and will bring up a Netscape window which can be dismissed by clicking on the “ x ” symbol on the top right corner (or by choosing “Close” from the “File” menu). (On Macs, click on the close box.) We’ll also provide the Internet address, so that if you are not connected to the Internet when you are viewing the Activity, you can copy it down and visit the site later if you wish. Here’s an example: “visit the Internet site of the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing ( )”

12 first presented with an engaging overview of the course content (the PowerPoint 97 Activities and, where appropriate, our custom-made animations), then access more detailed information presented from another viewpoint (the textbook and its CD-ROM), then delve deeper into topics they are interested in (the Internet, and a local library if desired). (b) Structure of the Units No one learning style suits everyone, and ‘multiple passes’ at course content (each with a different instructional approach where possible) aid understanding. We believe that people are likely to learn best in our units if they are

13 Discussion with other students (as well as with instructors) is an invaluable way to integrate new concepts into your world view, puts you into contact with others with similar interests, and motivates you to keep studying! Astronomy is quite close to the old idea of physical sciences as “natural philosophy”, and while we will spend a fair amount of time looking at practical details, there will be plenty of room for more general philosophical discussions too. For these reasons, newsgroup contributions are a major part of our units and form a significant part of the assessment. Passive learning usually results in limited understanding. Newsgroup Discussions:

14 That is because an important part of your assessment (see Assessment section later for more detail) is to regularly post queries about the course content, and also to regularly answer other people’s queries. This may sound like a “cop out” by the instructors! In fact answering other people’s queries is an “active learning” technique designed to involve you in consolidating your own understanding of the course content. If a query stays unanswered for a long period of time, the instructor is likely to step in and provide an answer at that stage. Your instructors will contribute to the newsgroups regularly, but they won’t necessarily answer all your queries about course content (at least at first).

15 Astronomy is also the closest equivalent to Fine Arts among the sciences! We’ll be providing you with plenty of magnificent astronomical images to learn from and also for sheer enjoyment. Astronomical Images: The Horsehead Nebula

16 There is a revolution taking place in astronomy - our understanding of the Universe around us, although still very basic, is increasing at an unprecedented rate, fuelled by new data and images provided, for example, by the Hubble Space Telescope and the new generation of space probes such as the various Mars missions. We have tried to make our course content as up-to-date as possible, but we will supplement it by publishing relevant astronomy press releases and the postings of occasional “guest contributors” in the unit newsgroups. The newsgroups are accessed via our Internet website, Swinburne Astronomy Online at Up-to-date Content:

17 Special-interest Groups: Some people wish to learn more about Astronomy for general interest and enjoyment. Others have more specific reasons, such as to enhance their activities as amateur astronomers, or as professional development - for example, for secondary science teachers and science museum/planetaria staff. For that reason we’ll provide special interest (non-assessable) newsgroups for those interested in discussing amateur astronomy or educational approaches to the teaching of astronomy.

18 Assessment can be a pain - but it can also motivate deep learning and provide feedback to both you and the instructors on what has been mastered and what has not. Assessment: We are designing the assessment for our Units to combine testing and feedback on your knowledge and understanding of specific sections of each Unit, with opportunities to “put it all together” - e.g. write essays combining what you have learnt from several parts of a Unit - and project work where you can concentrate on an aspect of a Unit which particularly interests you. NGC 6744, a face-on spiral galaxy

19 There are no stressful end-of-semester examinations for Swinburne Astronomy Online - instead the assessment for each Unit will be selected from the following: newsgroup contributions, where you will be asked to regularly post a query or extension comment about the course content, and also reply to someone else’s posting, essays, where you will be asked to write one or two short essays requiring you to synthesize what you have learnt from several Activities in the Unit, correcting misconceptions, where you will identify statements which involve common misconceptions about astronomy (for example, “there is no gravity in space”) and explain briefly why they are wrong, online testing, short tests to provide feedback on your understanding of each part of the Unit, problem solving, in the more advanced Units of the course, and a project, topic of your choice, which could involve amateur observing, internet research, or curriculum design involving the teaching of astronomy.

20 Retention rates - the percentage of people who stay enrolled in a course until completion - are always an issue with distance education courses in general and online courses are no exception. (c) How to avoid dropping out! Many of you will be busy people, with full- or part-time employment, and/or other established interests and commitments, family responsibilities and lifestyle patterns which will be competing with this course for your available time. On the positive side, you have enrolled in this course because you have a specific interest in astronomy - it’s not just the next scheduled subject in some multiple-year undergraduate course.

21 The busiest amongst you are probably already adept at juggling commitments, and will be able to fit this in as just another commitment - as long as you schedule time regularly for the course, and don’t just leave it to be done when everything else is out of the way! Everyone has busy times: try to anticipate them, where possible, and get a bit ahead in the course work if you know or suspect that a week or two are coming up where you won’t have time to do any study. The Orion-Eridanus bubble

22 On the Unit web pages (accessed via ) you’ll find a Study Guide, which will contain a schedule of what to do in each two week interval of the Unit - what Activities to work through, what postings to make to the newsgroup and what Assessment to complete. Try to keep to the Study Guide schedule: if you do, there will be no end-of-semester panic and you’ll have time to enjoy the work.

23 If you were attending a lecture course, the instructor(s) might notice if you fail to turn up to scheduled classes or if you have a particular problem - but in an online course, Another very important factor in “avoiding dropping out” is communication. (unless they’ve installed the appropriate plug-in!), so you have to contact your instructors, through the newsgroup or by email, if you have a problem or if we’ve got something wrong. … n o o n e c a n h e a r y o u s c r e a m...

24 At first newsgroups may seem an artificial way to communicate, but if you approach them with an open mind and contribute regularly you’ll probably discover, as many have found in online education, that they can provide a real sense of community. Newsgroup contributions form part of your assessment, but they also have a vital role in helping you to avoid “dropping out”. Centaurus A, a bright radio galaxy

25 (d) When we get it wrong Technical problems: We’ve tried to design the Units to involve as few technical problems for you as possible - but inevitably, some will arise. Problems involving the Blackboard Learning System are covered by the Blackboard Help page at and if you are still having problems contact the Help Desk via this link. For other questions email the SAO helpdesk ( and we’ll reply as soon as possible. Note that we cannot answer technical queries by phone (unless they involve not being able to contact us by email!)

26 Please let us know if you come across mistakes, by following the Corrections and Comments link on the Unit website. If the mistake is in a PowerPoint Activity, remember to quote the Activity name and number, and the slide number(s) concerned. To find out the current slide number when using the PowerPoint viewer: click on the right mouse button, select Go, then select By Title. A list of the slides will appear, with a tick beside the current slide. (Try it now!) Bloopers: As each Unit involves of the order of 1500 animated PowerPoint slides, it is likely that a few mistakes will remain despite our “beta testing”. * * For Macs: hold down the Control (Ctrl) key and click the mouse button

27 (Also, an advance comment about spelling: you’ll find that we use Australian-usage spelling on some words, not US spelling. So if, for example, you find that we consistently use the spelling “colour” when you would have expected “color”, don’t head for the bloopers section - it’s cultural!) One thing to note: the animated slides in our Activities are designed to be viewed with the PowerPoint 97 player or PowerPoint 97 itself. They will not work properly if viewed with earlier versions. * * * (98 for Macs)

28 To leave no cliché unturned, you are our best means of promoting this course, so when we get it wrong, please tell us - when we get it right, please tell everybody! NGC 4755, the Jewel Box cluster

29 (e) About Exploring the Solar System 3-d Mars North Pole (Mars Global Surveyor)

30 This Unit, Exploring the Solar System, is an introductory- level astronomy unit on the properties and probable evolution of our Solar System which will draw heavily on results from space missions past and present. No background knowledge of astronomy or physics will be assumed and the emphasis will be on conceptual astronomy, not mathematical techniques. Module 1 is an introduction to the Unit - made up of this Activity plus introductory readings from the Textbook. (You will have already completed these readings if you have previously studied the Unit on Exploring Stars and the Milky Way.)

31 Modules 6 - 8 introduce current thinking on the formation of the Solar System and the evolution of planets, and look at the properties and evolution of our Earth as a case study. Modules 9 - 10 look at properties and evolution of our Moon and Mercury, and similarities between the two. Modules 11 -13 contrast the properties and probable evolution of three terrestrial neighbours, Venus, Earth and Mars, and discusses the conditions needed to support life (as we might recognize it) Modules 14 - 16 move out past the terrestrial planets, first to the debris collectively known as the Asteroid Belt, then to investigate the gas giant Jovian planets, their zoo of natural satellites and ring systems. Modules 17 - 18 investigate the odd-one-out among the planets, Pluto and its companion Charon, their relatives in the Kuiper Belt, and the debris of the Solar System - comets and meteorites. Module 2 - 5 discuss patterns and motions in the night sky and the orbits of planets and our Moon in the Solar System.

32 Modules 19 - 21 complete the Unit with a review of the dominant member of the Solar System, the Sun: its properties, structure, nuclear energy source, solar activity and effects on Earth. If you have previously studied the Unit on Exploring Stars and the Milky Way you will have already worked through Modules 19 and 20. These modules occur in both Exploring the Solar System and Exploring Stars and the Milky Way because the Sun is important to both Units - but Module 21 will be new to you.

33 Although you will find out many facts and details about our Solar System, our main emphasis (and the main emphasis of the Assessment) will be on the basic unifying themes - unifying concepts which make sense of many of those facts and details, as far as our current understanding of Solar System astronomy allows. Solar Flare

34 We hope that you will find this Unit both enjoyable and challenging! Comet Hale-Bopp

35 Image Credits NASA: Enceladus Solar flare 3-d Mars North Pole (Mars Global Surveyor) MSSSO © Mike Bessell (used with permission): The Crab Supernova Remnant The Magellanic Clouds The Trifid Nebula The Helix Nebula The Vela Supernova Remnant The Horsehead Nebula NGC 6744 a face-on spiral galaxy Mosaiced Hasselblad image of the Orion-Eridanus bubble Centaurus A, a bright radio galaxy NGC 4755, the Jewel Box cluster Comet Hale-Bopp as it passed two globular clusters

36 This Unit has been put together through the hard work and dedication of the following people: Jon BoothChris Brooks Peter CaldwellBronwyn Halls Colin LovePaul Maullin Geoff MazzoliniMargaret Mazzolini Debbie SageJohn Betts Sarah Maddison and with the invaluable support of Prof. Matthew Bailes & the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, A/Prof. Dale Murphy & the School of Biophysical Sciences & Electrical Engineering, the Swinburne Learning & Teaching Unit and our external Course Advisory Panel members: Dr David McConnell, Dr John Reynolds, Dr Lisa Germany, Dr John Lattanzio, Dr Anne Green & Prof Ray Norris. People Credits Sarah Maddison, Swinburne Astronomy Online Course Coordinator, Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing © Swinburne University of Technology

37 Now return to the Module 1 home page, and do the introductory reading indicated in the Textbook Readings. Hit the Esc key to return to the Module 1 Home Page


39 The link has taken you to a slide at the end of the Activity - the Powerpoint equivalent of an Appendix. Once you’ve read the Appendix slide(s), you’ll find a link something like the following... Click here to return to the Activity! … Try it now!


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