Astronomy -science Olympiad nys competition March 9th, 2013

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Astronomy -Science Olympiad NYS Competition March 9th, 2013


On the day of the contest, we studied the textbook very quickly- it’s good to look at the chapter summaries at the end because they have all the important facts. Main tip- one person should bring a binder and the other person should bring a laptop. The people at the contest do not let you charge your laptop. My laptop and my partner’s laptop died out so that was bad. The contest was around 50 questions and they were all paragraphs. Many of them were equations so study the equations. A few questions were on basic theories. They give you 50 minutes, which seems enough to me. We split the test in half and helped each other out in the hard questions.

Tip= Make one person study the theories and the other person study the equations. It helps to organize the studying better.


  1. Test was split into five sections; multiple choice, Light curvatures, vocabulary, picture matching, and an essay.

  1. The multiple choice questions involved a lot equation questions, stellar evolution, and H-R diagram.

  2. The equation questions tested the knowledge on parsecs, absolute magnitude, apparent magnitude, red shift, luminosity, and solar mass. One should probably study these equations in detail and not use them as a reference sheet during the actual test. This became a major problem during states, as we had to flip back to the equation document multiple times.

  3. Many stellar evolution questions went hand in hand with the H-R diagram questions. An example of a common stellar evolution question would be; “A healthy giant star is about 7.5 solar masses. What is most likely the fate of this star?” Another example being, “Sirius B is a white dwarf in a binary system with Sirius A. Sirius A is most likely a ____”. Although this is a multiple choice test, guessing is not advisable as each question has around 5-8 multiple choices. The most common documents I used in this section was the equation document and a modified H-R diagram document.

  1. The light curve section of the test was probably the most difficult part of the test, simply because we did not prepare very well for this section.

  1. This section had no multiple choices at all and was all calculation based. Most of the questions were accompanied with a graph of a light curve. The questions asked to find magnitudes, luminosity, and masses. Knowledge of the equations was important for this section.

Example of a light curve:

  1. The vocabulary section was rather simple. The questions were definitions and you had to match them to their appropriate word.

  2. The picture section was also rather simple. Each question provided you with a description of a specific super nova, black hole, star, neutron star, or variable star and you had to name the described object. In addition, there was a set of pictures. You also had to match the picture to the description.

  3. The essay question was simply a fluke, and I doubt it will show up ever again any time soon. The question gave a lyric from a song and asked you to explain the validity of the song lyric. If I were to retake this test, I would simply skip this section, as it was too long and it only gave a maximum of three points.


  1. States was a lot less general and left the boundaries that regionals had set. While regionals specifically focused on stellar evolution and the fundamentals of astronomy, States required a greater knowledge of astronomy, chemistry, and physics.

  2. Some questions were simple and asked specifics of stars and nebulas, such as Betelgeuse and the Crab Nebula, respectively. However, the questions at times got extremely detailed. One question asked “Would the region around Betelgeuse be able to support life.” While another asked for the chemical formulas for the nuclear fission and fusion that occurs in a star.


  4. Some questions required knowledge of current events in astronomy, such as cosmic background radiation and the Higgs field.

  5. The entire test was not just math. A lot asked for definitions and detailed descriptions.

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