Online reading assignment: history of astronomy, telescope powers (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2012
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
Section 70160 (North county campus)

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on reviewing the history of astronomy, Kepler's and Newton's laws, and telescope powers.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"Kepler's laws only describe the 'how' whereas Newton's describe the 'why' of planet movement. Normally I wouldn't think of the difference between how and why planets move the way they do."

"It took so many astronomers making breakthroughs to get modern astronomy where it is."

"The two most well known facts about Galileo being false. I always thought that Galileo was the one who invented the telescope and who was also the first person to look at the sky with a telescope. I also thought he was condemned for believing the earth revolved around the sun, but that was not true either."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I will need more time with the planets, horizons, and familiarizing myself with which planet is visible and when." (The planet-finding in-class activity from spring semester 2012 and fall semester 2011 are available if you need more practice.)

"Even though we went over it in class, I still found retrograde to still be confusing. The textbook didn't exactly tell you how it worked, just the fact it performs illusions with the planets."

"I found it difficult to keep straight which astronomers did what! I mean there were seven of them."

"The parts of the telescope...do we need to memorize all of them and their particular functions?"
Briefly explain your answer for the most important feature [brightness/resolution/magnification] to consider when purchasing an optical telescope.
"Telescopes are made to magnify."

"Resolution, because you need to make sure the resolving power is powerful enough to see things with more detail."

"Brightness--without the image being bright the magnification doesn't matter."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Thank you, for being patient and always willing to help your students. I know astronomy isn't my strongest topic but you make me want to learn and understand at least the basics of my surroundings..."

"Can you describe the lectures more slowly and thoroughly? I am having trouble following along in the class." (The presentations posted on my blog include all slides, and most of my comments. I will skim over certain slides, or give more explanation on certain slides depending on student responses from the online reading assignments. If you need further clarification or explanation, then come to posted office hours or make an appointment; ask questions just before/after lecture or via e-mail.)

"How can I do better on the next quiz? :(" (Go through last semester's quiz and discussion. You can e-mail me about the questions on the archived quiz or other topics up until 10:00 PM the night before the quiz, and I will attempt to respond to you sometime later that night (or very early that morning).)

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