Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA
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.
"How Galileo found out about the moon not being perfect and having mountains and valleys, because as a kid your always told to try to find the face in the moon and come to find out it's just an illusion that these mountains and valleys make."
"Newton's laws of motion, because I have always been interested in physics."
"Learning about how the moon affects the tides was interesting because I always knew that they did, but I didn't know how (because the oceans are deeper on Earth's bulges)."
"How planets do not move around the sun in circles, but rather ellipses. It seems like a lesser-known fact that planets behave like this."
"Telescopes, because I'm excited to look into one someday and look at the stars."
"Tthat if there is no outside force, such as gravity, pushing on an object, the motion of that object will not be changed. But while gravity is in play, the motion of the object will be changed."
"Learning about the telescope powers. I never would have guessed that magnification would be the least important but now it makes sense to me."
"Keplers law's, because of how they all tied together and made more sense once knowing how they all worked."
"Observations through telescopes, because I've never experienced viewing planets through a powerful telescope. I think I have been missing out."
"How scientists never cease to seek out the truth. They don't stop with someone else's explanation of a phenomenon, they try to justify it or disprove it to test its accuracy."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"How gravity works."
"The umbras and preumbras and just putting yourself into perspective. I'm having a little trouble switching between seeing from the sun, Earth, the moon, etc."
"Kepler's laws, I just need more clarification."
"Retrograde and prograde was confusing, because I couldn't really find a good explanation in the book of which direction the planets move in."
"Kepler's laws explain 'how' but not 'why' planets move... Then how did he figure them out?"
"I didn't find anything confusing."
"I found the different aspects of the telescope to be confusing. I am not familiar with using telescopes."
"I think all of the contributions and timelines of astronomers is confusing, but I think I just need to go back and re-read some of the information to make stronger connections!"
"I was a little confused about the Newton's cannon thing because of why it would come back around to the top again."
"Nothing really. It was basically a big history lesson."
When a planet is undergoing retrograde motion, over several nights it moves __________ with respect to the background stars.
east to west. ****************************  west to east. **************  (Either of the above choices is possible.) *****  (Unsure/lost/guessing/help!) **** 
When a planet is undergoing prograde motion, over several nights it moves __________ with respect to the background stars.
east to west. *************  west to east. **************************  (Either of the above choices is possible.) ****  (Unsure/lost/guessing/help!) ******** 
Categorize each of Kepler's laws.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Kepler's first law: describes the shape of a planet's orbit. [78%]
Kepler's second law: describes the motion of a planet along its orbit. [84%]
Kepler's third law: describes the motion of a planet along its orbit. [75%]
Categorize each of Newton's laws.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Newton's first law: relates forces with changes in motion. [74%]
Newton's second law: relates forces with changes in motion. [57%]
Newton's third law: describes a property of forces. [67%]
The __________ powers of a telescope depends on the: (Only correct responses shown.)
light-gathering power: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [61%]
resolving power: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [65%]
magnifying power: both the focal lengths of the primary lens/mirror and eyepiece: [39%]
The least important feature to consider when purchasing an optical telescope is the __________ of its images.
brightness. ******  resolution. ****  magnification. **************************************  (Two of the above choices.) *  (Unsure/lost/guessing/help!) ** 
Briefly explain your answer for the least important feature to consider when purchasing an optical telescope.
"Magnification can be bettered by acquiring a better eyepiece, but the brightness and the resolution depend on the main lens."
"Light-gathering properties and resolving power are fundamental properties of a telescope, wile magnifying power can be changed simply by changing the eyepiece."
"If the image isn't clear and well-lit to begin with, it wouldn't be worth it to magnify. They are all important, but I believe that magnification is least because you wouldn't be able to see anything without brightness and resolution."
"Magnification doesn't make things clearer, it just makes it bigger. If you have good resolution and good light then the image will already be clear so you wont necessarily need good magnification."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Newton's law fascinates me because just thinking about how an object won't move unless it is forced by something else. It will also remain stationary if there is no force exerted on it. This is the same rule for things on Earth. So what confuses me is that does this rule apply to everything. Is EVERYTHING moving in space? Are there things out there that aren't moving at all?" (Because everything is subject to each others' gravitational pull, then yes, everything is moving and having their motion affected by those gravitational forces.)
"Is it true that a large asteroid may pass close enough to Earth for us to see next month?" (Yes, according to NASA, asteroid 2013 TX68 will do so on March 5.)
"How do the online reading assignments and in-class group activities affect our grade? Will they be reflected in the online summary?" (The online reading assignments and the in-class group activities are each worth one whole letter grade; those points will be included in the total course points posted online after each midterm.)
"Can you discuss prograde and retrograde motions more please?"
"Is there another way to study than reading the textbook and your online blogs from home?" (Yes, you can go over the worksheet question packets, as many of these questions are similar to those that show up on the quizzes. The answers are not published, but you can e-mail me your answers, and I can "grade" them for you. Just don't wait until the last-minute to do so.)
"Are we going to be using telescopes? When do we get to try out the big telescope?" (Yes. Tonight!)