Astronomy 101 Final Review Questions


1.     Go over the suggested HW problems and Quizzes

2.     Know the speed of light

3.     What forms of light are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere? How does the atmosphere affect the light that can reach the ground? What techniques can you use to reduce the affects of the atmosphere?


4.     What is the range of star colors from coolest to hottest?

5.     What forms of light have the shortest to the longest wavelength?

6.     What are the different types of reflecting telescope designs? Know the relative light gathering efficiency of each design.

7.     Know how to compare the light gathering power of different sized telescopes

8.     If you increase/decrease the mass or increase/decrease the distance, then how does the force of gravity change?

9.     What is the difference between Newton’s and Einstein’s theory of Gravity?

10.   Know the phases of the Moon.

11.   About what time will the New, 1st Quarter, Full, or 3rd Quarter Moon rise/set?

12.   What will happen to the Earth if we had no moon?

13.   What causes lunar and solar eclipses?

14.   What points in the sky define the first day of the seasons?

15.   If you are standing at the North Pole, how do the stars and the Sun move in the sky?

16.   Know how to determine your latitude on Earth based on the altitude of the North Star.

17.   What is the ecliptic?

18.   Know Kepler’s laws.

19.   Which planets can be seen high overhead at night?

20.   Besides our Moon, which planets can exhibit a full set of phases?

21.   Should there be another planet (not dwarf planet) between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter?

22.   How is the Moon and Mercury similar? How are they different?

23.   What are planetary rings composed of?

24.   Which planets rotate like the Earth and which ones rotate in the opposite sense?

25.   What evidence suggests that Mars once had liquid water on its surface?

26.   Where is all the water on Mars now?

27.   How can volcanoes grow so big on other planets?

28.   Which planets may rip apart their moons? How can this happen?

29.   Why was Pluto demoted from a planet to a dwarf planet?

30.   How do the chemical compositions of the Jovian planets differ from the terrestrial planets?

31.   What are the unique features of Uranus?

32.   Know how to determine high pressure and low pressure systems on other worlds

33.  What is the most distant planet or plutoid from the Sun?

33.   As of today, how many moons are known to orbit around each planet and dwarf planet?

34.  Which worlds have active volcanoes or geysers?

35.   Why are Mercury and Venus so hot while Mars is cool?

36.   What was Voyager 2’s mission and what is it up to now?

37.   Know the trends (highest, lowest, differences between Jovian and Terrestrial planets) in planetary sizes, masses, densities, eccentricities, inclinations, and rotation periods. See Table 6.1 and Appendix Table 3A & 3B.


38.   Why do some planets have huge atmospheres while other planets have little or none?

39.   What type of gases can Mars hold in its atmosphere?

40.   What are the differences between Terrestrial planets and Jovian planets?

41.   Why are the Terrestrial and Jovian planets so different?

42.   What is the difference between the Solar day and the Sidereal day?  Which planets have long Solar and Sidereal Days?

43.  Billions of years ago, the Moon was closer to the Earth.  How would this affect the tides and the length of our days?

44.   Why do some moons have spherical shapes while others moons do not?

47.   Know the Galilean moons and how they are different from each other

48.   How would the sunset look on the surface of Mercury, Venus, and Mars?

49.   Know the important moons on Saturn: Titan, Enceladus, Mimas, and Hyperion

50.   How do the atmospheric features of the Jovian planets differ from each other?

51.   Know the planet, dwarf planet and plutoid criteria

52.  If Earth’s axis was no longer tilted, how would that affect the Earth?

You are allowed to bring one 3 x 5 inch note-card: double-sided and hand-written.

Planet Re-Classification(16%): Reclassify the planets, dwarf planets and plutoids using your own categories and criteria


Part 1) List your new set of THREE planetary categories and the criteria for each category (You can list as many criteria as you want)


Example planet categories:          

Hot Planet                      Goldilocks Planet                       Cold Planet

                                                1- orbits near the sun          1- orbits sun just right      1- orbits far from the sun

Example planet criteria     2- big enough                        2- big enough                        2- big enough

                                                3- too hot                              3- warm                                 3- too cold


You must include a criterion to exclude rouge planets that wander pass the solar system.

You must include a criterion to exclude small solar system objects like moons, asteroids and comets  (Note: some moons are bigger than planets and some moons have atmospheres).

You CANNOT use a criterion based on temperature.


You can use any of the planet, dwarf planet, plutoid criteria devised by the IAU, except for the two below.

You CANNOT use the following two criteria:

1.   Sufficient mass for its self-gravity to shape itself into a sphere (or anything similar)

2.   Cleared its neighborhood around its orbit (or anything similar)


Your new set of planetary criteria must be scientifically accurate and consistent.

You should NOT use the example shown above because the terms: big/large/medium/small/tiny, hot/warm/cold, thick/moderate/thin, high/intermediate/low, fast/average/slow, near/just right/far, mostly/mainly/primarily/enough/significant/substantial are NOT scientifically accurate. Do NOT use these terms.  Do NOT use the terms: Terrestrial, Jovian or Plutoid. 



Part 2) Classify Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Ceres* and Pluto** using your new system in Part 1 (do not include Saturn, Neptune or the other Plutoids).  There must be at least TWO worlds in each category.  Some worlds may fall into two categories, but should not fit in all three.


for example:         Hot Planet             Goldilocks Planet                 Cold Planet

                                Mercury, Venus          Earth, Mars    Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, Ceres, Pluto


Parts 3, 4, and 5 will test how well you have constructed your reclassification scheme in Part 1.





*Ceres Data

Escape Speed: 0.5 km/s

Orbital Eccentricity: 0.08

Orbital Inclination: 10.6º


**Pluto Data

Escape Speed: 1.2 km/s

Orbital Eccentricity: 0.25

Orbital Inclination: 17.2º