Astronomy History Multiple Choice

Answer these questions pertaining to the history of Astronomy.
Quiz by QuantumMechanist
Last updated: November 18, 2022
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First submittedNovember 11, 2022
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1. Pluto is not the only celestial body to be demoted from planet status. Which of these were once called a planet but are not considered one today?
The Moon was also considered a planet, back when it was thought that all bodies orbited the Earth.
2. Who discovered the planet Uranus?
Galileo Galilei
William Herschel
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Tycho Brahe
Herschel's sister, Caroline, also discovered several Comets.
3. Which of the following was NOT a proposed name for Uranus?
Her Majesty's Star
Georgium Sidus
Neptune Great Britain
Virgo 17
I prefer all of these to Uranus.
4. Who is credited with the discovery of Neptune?
Nikola Tesla
Urbain Le Verrier
Edwin Hubble
Neil Armstrong
Le Verrier mathematically deduced Neptune's location based on the orbital abnormalities of Uranus. John Couch Adams also did this, but it was Le Verrier's predictions that were used by Johanne Galle to observe and identify the planet.
5. #4 was also convinced of the existence of a planet very close to the Sun, whose gravitational effects could explain Mercury's shifting aphelion. What is the name he gave this nonexistent planet?
This is the inspiration for Star Trek's Vulcan.
6. Mercury's shifting aphelion, or in other words the changing orientation of its elliptical orbit, remained unexplained until 1915. Who offered up the now-accepted explanation for this phenomenon?
Herbert Dingle, citing faulty measurement devices used by previous observers.
Paul Klopsteg, citing several small objects orbiting close to the Sun.
Albert Einstein, citing general relativity.
William D. Coolidge, citing the plasmatic core of the Sun's oscillating center of mass.
All of the planets do what mercury does, but Mercury's is much more exaggerated due to its more elliptical orbit and its proximity to the Sun.
7. Why are there seven days in a week?
Each planet besides Earth was assigned a day.
It takes a week for mercury to complete one orbit around the sun
Each unfixed object visible in the sky (e.g. 5 planets, moon, & sun) were assigned a day
Each day is signified by a color of the rainbow.
In romance languages, the days of the week clearly correspond to the 5 planets, sun, and moon. In English, Tuesday through Thursday are named for Germanic names for the planets instead of the better-known Roman names.
8. Who first observed the Andromeda Galaxy in writing?
Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi in 964 CE
Albert Einstein in 1926 CE
Ptolemy in 160 CE
The Andromeda Galaxy has never been directly observed
Al-Sufi called it a "small cloud" in his Book of Fixed Stars.
9. How were Gamma Radiation Bursts, or GRBs, first observed?
Tycho Brahe noted a mysterious flashing in the Andromeda Galaxy, then thought to be a nebula
The Earth was glanced by a GRB in 286 CE, leading to the Roman Empire being split
Satellites meant to detect nuclear explosions instead detected flashes in distant galaxies
GRBs have never been observed and are only theorized to exist
10. What was the first major piece of evidence suggesting the existence of gravitational waves?
A gravitational wave knocked a large asteroid off of its collision course with Earth, saving us all from sure destruction.
Gravitational waves were observed by LIGO in 2015, utilizing a 4km long laser beam to detect minor changes in the mass of protons.
Joseph Weber constructed a Weber Bar (Large Cylinder that could be vibrated by subtle grav-waves) in 1969, and was able to regularly show the mechanism be gradually affected by grav-waves from Sagittarius A*
A binary pulsar was discovered, and the gradual decay of its orbital period could only be explained through the existence of gravity waves
11. Who first proposed that there are several galaxies besides the Milky Way?
Edwin Hubble in 1925
Thomas Aquinas in 1256
Thomas Wright in 1750
The Milky Way is the Only Galaxy
While Hubble proved it with direct observation, the theory was first proposed by Kant in Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens.
12. How did Friedrich Bessel directly measure the distance from the Sun to another star in 1838?
Using Kepler's Third Law: He derived the distance from the star's orbital period around the Sun, using (Orbital Period)2 = (Radius)3.
Using Radar: Firing a beam of radio waves in the direction of the star and timing how long it took for the radio wave to return. Multiplying the time by the speed of light and dividing by 2 gives the distance.
Using Hubble's Law: Based on the star's redshift, he could determine the recessional velocity of the star, and derived its distance using the rate of expansion of the Universe.
Using Parallax: Looking at the change in the angular position of the star at different times of the year and calculating the distance with trigonometry.
Hubble's Law is helpful for determining distances to galaxies, which are so far away that their parallax isn't detectable.
13. Annie J. Cannon developed the modern stellar classification system in the early 1900s. How are stars classified under this system?
By Position in the Sky
By Color and Temperature
By Regions of the Galaxy
By Size and Luminosity
14. What discovery led to Pluto being demoted from planet status in 2006?
The Discovery that Pluto is on a collision trajectory with Neptune in the coming centuries
The Discovery that Pluto is smaller than Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter
The Discovery of Eris, a similarly sized body in the Kuiper Belt
The Discovery that Pluto had exploded from internal volcanic pressure
Eris is slightly larger than Pluto, and the orbits of the two bodies are highly elliptical and full of sizeable obstacles. All of these factors led to the demotion of Pluto and the creation of the class Dwarf Planet, anticipating that more of such objects would be found in the future.
15. How many planets did Voyager 2 fly by, not counting Earth?
Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Level ∞
Nov 12, 2022
Fun quiz.
Level 71
Nov 12, 2022
It's an honor
Level 69
Nov 18, 2022
Really enjoyed this.
Level 76
Nov 18, 2022
Nice quiz.

I would say 'described' instead of 'observed' in the Andromeda question, as it is visible to the naked eye.

Also it is not clear where the idea of the week comes from, but it might well be because it is (approx) a quarter of a lunar cycle.

Level 71
Nov 18, 2022
That question is based on what I learned in my Astronomy class in Uni. I'll replace the quarter of a lunar cycle answer to avoid confusion.
Level 72
Nov 18, 2022
Kant was influenced by Thomas Wright, who proposed that nebulae were galaxies five years earlier.
Level 71
Nov 18, 2022
Thanks for the correction!