Translation:You can read about this city in an encyclopedia.
Does anyone know why "прочитать" is used here. Back in college, I was told that "читать" is the imperfective, "почитать" the perfective of having completed reading, and "прочитать" is to VERY thoroughly and completely read something. so, shouldn't the sentence have used the verb "читать"?
I'm afraid they misinformed you. "Почитать" is a perfective verb that means "to read for a while". "Прочитать" is also a perfective verb that means to complete reading. We use perfective in this sentence because we are focusing on the result of reading (learning new facts about the city) not the process.
I don't see a difference in regular, spoken English between "You can read about..." and "You could read about..." except that "could" has the ability to imply present OR past. For example, "Susie, could you read that passage aloud?" is acceptable present tense use of "could", but Duolingo marked it wrong. Am I wrong for using "could" flexibly?
It's entirely contextual, is the issue. While "could" is a possible translation for можете, without context indicating that there are other options it doesn't make sense in the guidelines Duolingo follows. "Could" is used in the present tense to indicate options, whereas "can" is used to indicate ability. "You can read about the city in an encyclopedia" is just informing you that there are entries about the city that you have the ability to access. "You could read about the city in an encyclopedia," however, is implying you have other options readily available to you for learning, such as the person speaking simply telling you, or you watching videos, or detailed histories, a museum....
Duolingo is somewhat limited in how it interprets things. The most straightforward is often the "correct" answer.
Is "on the encyclopedia" wrong? I was marked wrong for writing "on" instead of "in".