In this section, you will be answering questions similar to those on a test for an English course. After answering each question, check your understanding to see an explanation for the correct answer.

Use “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” to answer the following questions.

1   Line 3 (“When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them”) is intended to make clear to a reader that —

A   the speaker is fascinated by mathematics
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B   the speaker is not smart enough to understand the lecture
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C   the speaker is able to see some errors in the lecturer’s figures
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D   the speaker is not all that interested in what the lecturer is presenting
Correct!

Explanation: The speaker crams together this list of mathematical evidence and procedures in such a way that it all seems to run together. There is no indication that the speaker could not figure all of this out if he wanted to, but he sees nothing interesting about it.

2   The arrangement of the “proofs” and “figures” in line 2 into columns contrasts with —

A   the arrangement of the charts and diagrams
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B   the arrangement of the numbers to be added or divided
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C   the arrangement of the seating in the lecture hall
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D   the arrangement of stars in the sky
Correct!

Explanation: The astronomer is lecturing about stars, but his presentation of the information is dramatically different from the experience of actually viewing the stars in the night sky. Stars can be imagined to form constellations, but they are not arranged in columns.

3   In what way are lines 1–4 similar? Why does the poet do this?

Correct!

B    All four lines are about hearing.
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C    All four lines are what the speaker sees.
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D   All four lines are complete sentences.
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Explanation: The first four lines establish the context of the action described in the last four lines. “When” everything in the first four lines has happened, then the speaker describes the result.

The repetition of the first words in several lines of poetry is called anaphora. Anaphora means that the beginnings are the same; if the whole line is repeated, it is not an example of anaphora.

Lincoln’s “we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground” is an example of anaphora.

4   The poem’s setting is significant because it helps to contrast —

A    city with country
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B    indoors with outdoors
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C    earth with sky
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D    past with future
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Explanation: The first half of the poem is not only about the lecture, but it is also about being inside the lecture hall. The second part is about being outside in the “mystical moist night-air.”

5   The tone of the first 5 lines is different from the tone of lines 6, 7, 8, and 9. Which words best describe this change in the speaker’s attitude toward his topic?

A    From dissatisfied to disappointed
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B    From comfortable to anxious
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C    From annoyed to peaceful
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D    From interested to bored
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Explanation: The poem starts with a description of the lecture. The speaker uses crammed-together lists of mathematical explanations. This way of presenting the lecturer’s material makes clear that the speaker feels this material is annoying. In the final lines of the poem, the speaker uses words like “mystical,” “perfect,” “gliding,” and “silence” to indicate a peaceful tone.

6   In line 6, the word “unaccountable” (which means “unable to be explained”) indicates that —

A    the speaker is confused by all the mathematic explanations
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B    the speaker doesn’t know exactly why he feels “tired and sick”
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C    the speaker wants to be able to explain astronomical concepts
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D    the speaker thinks the lecturer is not explaining things clearly
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Explanation: The sentence is arranged in an unusual order. The more natural order (but not necessarily better order) would be “Soon I unaccountably became tired and sick.” The word “unaccountable” describes his uncertainty about why he became tired and sick.

It may seem strange that the speaker is confused about the reason for feeling tired and sick when the tone of the preceding lines makes clear that the lecture is bothering him. The reason for his confusion might be that he is not “reasoning” out his feelings in terms of cause and effect. He is simply feeling his feelings and following them where they lead. In this case, they lead him outside into the night air.

Use “A Shared Vision to Dazzle Urbanites With the Night Sky” to answer the following questions.

7   In the first paragraph, when the author says that the proposed projects “hope” to do something and refers to the “night eyes” of the city, he is —

A    giving positive descriptions to negative things
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B    giving part of a description to represent the whole
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C    giving descriptions that sound like the thing being described
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D    giving human characteristics to nonhuman things
Correct!

Explanation: A project is not able to actually “hope” for something; only people interested in the project can have hope for it. Also a city does not have eyes, but the people in the city have eyes. The author is using a literary device called anthropomorphism to describe the projects and the behavior of the people in the city.

8   In the second paragraph, the author says that Kendall and Aglert want to “turn out the lights” in order to “illuminate the night sky.” What is strange about this explanation?

A    These two actions seem to be opposites.
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B    These two actions seem to be impossible.
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C    These two actions seem to be exaggerated.
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D    These two actions seem to be the same thing.
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Explanation: How can you illuminate something by “turning out the lights”? The two actions described are opposites. In this case, however, turning out the lights will illuminate the sky and allow the light from the stars to be seen. The author is using a paradox to describe the strange relationship between the lights of the city and the lights of the stars.

9   When the author states in paragraph 8 that “there is a growing concern among astronomers and environmentalists that the permanent twilight of urban areas is making star gazing . . . a bygone pastime,” he implies that —

A    if people no longer “star gaze,” they will be more productive
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B    if people no long “star gaze,” they will have lost something valuable
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C    if people no long “star gaze,” they will endanger the quality of the air
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D    if people no long “star gaze,” they will move on to more modern pastimes
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Explanation: The word “concern” tells us that the “astronomers and environmentalists” are worried about this. This sentence implies that something valuable will be lost if people no longer “star gaze.”

10   Which phrase or sentence contains a comparison that the author uses to suggest Jason Kendall’s enthusiasm?

A    “How can you appreciate something you have never seen?” (paragraph 3)
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B    Mr. Kendall wants Dyckman Fields darkened. (paragraph 5)
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C    With the passion of a street evangelist (paragraph 14)
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D    A systems administrator for Canto Fitzgerald who holds master’s degrees in astronomy and . . . theater (paragraph 15)
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Explanation: The author uses an implied simile comparing Kendall to a street evangelist. He could have written “with a passion like the passion of a street evangelist.”

11   In paragraph 15, the author uses quotes such as “Hey, how ya doing?” and “You wanna see Saturn?” to convey the tone of Jason Kendall’s “pitch.” Which word best describes the tone of Kendall’s comments?

A    Ironic
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B    Witty
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C    Happy
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D    Informal
Correct!

Explanation: Although Kendall may indeed be happy and even at times witty, the quotations in this question are evidence of his informal tone. Nothing in the article indicates that what he is saying is ironic.

12   In addition to describing the two projects, much of the article is devoted to a description of —

A    Jason Kendall’s current activities in getting people interested in astronomy
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B    Jason Kendall’s childhood interest in astronomy
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C    Jason Kendall’s ideas for teaching astronomy in schools
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D    Jason Kendall’s work as an advocate for greener industry
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Explanation: Kendall’s project involves turning off the lights in Dyckman Fields, but he is currently (at the time this article was written) getting people interested in astronomy by letting them look through a telescope he has set up on the street.

Use “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” and “A Shared Vision to Dazzle Urbanites With the Night Sky” to answer the following questions.

13   What is the most important difference between the poem and the story?

A    The poem mentions only stars, while most of the references to celestial bodies in the article are planets.
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B    The poem focuses on the contrast between learning about nature and appreciating nature by experiencing it, while the article focuses almost entirely on getting people to appreciate nature by experiencing it.
Correct!

C    The poem is about appreciating nature alone, while the article is about appreciating nature with a “small crowd.”
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D    The poem describes a person who gets “tired and sick,” while the article describes a person who has “the passion of a street evangelist.”
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Explanation: Even though the article is longer than the poem and deals with two separate projects, the poem can be divided more easily into two separate parts. From the start, the poem describes the lecture as “learning about nature.” The second part of the poem is a description of the speaker appreciating nature by experiencing it.

The article has several sections, but all of it is concerned with getting people to appreciate nature by experiencing it. There is no mention of contrasting this with “learning about nature” from lectures or books.

“When I Heard the Learn’d
Astronomer,”
lines 4–6

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer,
where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

“A Shared Vision to Dazzle
Urbanites With the Night Sky,”
paragraphs 18–19

He swiveled the telescope, peered into it, then sighed loudly as a car’s headlights obliterated his field of vision.
“Ugh, glare bomb!” Mr. Kendall said.

What is the main difference in the attitude of the poem’s speaker and the article’s author toward the obstruction to their appreciation of nature?

A   In the poem, the speaker is emotionally sick, while in the article Kendall is physically sick.
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B   In the poem, the speaker is bothered by something that is completely legal, while in the article Kendall is bothered by something that is completely illegal.
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C   In the poem, the speaker has a choice (he can leave, and his appreciation will no longer be obstructed), while in the article, Kendall has no choice: he cannot control the glare from passing cars.
Correct!

D    In the poem, the lecturer is not trying to obstruct the speaker’s appreciation, while in the article the car is intentionally trying to spoil Kendall’s appreciation.
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Explanation: The poem is a “two scene” drama. The first scene is the lecture that obstructs the speaker’s appreciation; the second scene is the night air where the speaker can have an appreciation that is “silent” and “mystical.” All he has to do to escape the obstruction is make the choice to leave.

In the article, Kendall has his telescope set up to avoid glare of car headlights but cannot avoid them entirely. He has no choice but to put up with the occasional “glare bombs.”

15   What are the two attitudes toward nature expressed by these quotations?

“When I Heard the Learn’d
Astronomer,”
lines 7–9

. . . I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

“A Shared Vision to Dazzle
Urbanites With the Night Sky,”
paragraph 15

“Hey, how ya doing?” Mr. Kendall said theatrically on a recent night as couples, dog walkers and teenagers strolled past. “You wanna see Saturn? It’s just starting to peek through the trees.”

A   Dissatisfaction and pride
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B   Indifference and playfulness
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C   Grief and anger
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D   Reverence and curiosity
Correct!

Explanation: The attitude toward nature in the lines from the poem are almost religious in their spirituality and contemplation, especially because of the word “mystical.” The quotation from the article, on the other hand, treats nature as something amazing but accessible.

16    How are the themes of “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” and “A Shared Vision to Dazzle Urbanites With the Night Sky” similar?

Support your answer with evidence from both selections. Use your notes to write your response. When you’re finished, check your understanding to see a sample response and explanation.