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.
"Determining the differences between theory, hypothesis, and law."
"I hadn't really heard about Kepler before reading this chapter. I really had no idea how influential he was. What a cool guy!"
"That Galileo was originally friends with a cardinal from the Catholic Church interesting. This is because you hear the fictional story of him only being persecuted by the Church, but they in fact originally had decent relations."
"Galileo's struggle to speak about his findings. I found it fascinating that religious authorities really did not like their view of the Universe being challenged, and the pope actually asked Galileo to stop debating. It's just interesting how much progress is likely hindered due to authority figures not liking a change in how we perceive something."
"I always thought Galileo was the first to invent a telescope. I was wrong. Very wrong."
"That the magnification of telescopes isn't the most important thing about them. I definitely thought that was what you wanted when looking for telescopes."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I find retrograde movement a bit difficult to envision, but I do understand why it is so."
"I'm a little overwhelmed by Kepler's three laws and the terminology involved. I am slightly confused by how the average distance from the sun and planet is equal to the semi-major axis of its orbit. The definition for semi-major axis is half of the longest diameter of an ellipse, so I guess I'm confused how that equals the average distance from the sun."
"I think Kepler's three laws of planetary Motion is going to be confusing to differentiate between Newton's. I think it will be hard to remember them and there order. I feel like I am going to get them mixed up."
"Newton's cannon was a little bit confusing to me, because it was hard for me to understand how Earth's gravity would keep it orbiting the planet."
"The telescope stuff was surprisingly confusing. I think it is because I can't see or picture how these parts of the telescope work (like the focal length?). Also, what is the difference between 'Describes the shape of a planet's orbit' and 'Describes the motion of a planet along its orbit?'"
"I found the terminology about the telescopes kind of boring and a tad confusing because there are so many terms that mean similar things."
"I found the telescope section confusing, but interesting. I didn't really know anything about telescopes... like at all, so that made it confusing for me."
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. [79%]
Kepler's second law: describes the motion of a planet along its orbit. [79%]
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. [88%]
Newton's second law: relates forces with changes in motion. [58%]
Newton's third law: describes a property of forces. [67%]
The __________ power of a telescope depends on the: (Only correct responses shown.)
light-gathering: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [63%]
resolving: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [46%]
magnifying: both the focal lengths of the primary lens/mirror and eyepiece: [42%]
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.
"The brightness helps us see what we are trying to look at and the resolution helps make it extra clear for us, which are both important, therefore making magnification the least important."
"According to the textbook, higher magnifying power doesn't mean it will show you more detail, because the amount of detail one can see is limited by a combination of factors. These factors include the seeing conditions and the telescope's resolving power and optical quality."
"Magnification is the least consideration due to the fact that you can only magnify an image so much because resolution of the scope limits how much detail one can actually see."
"Making something bigger doesn't actually make it clearer."
"I have no idea and would like to inform myself about it soon!"
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"I could not find retrograde and prograde motion in the book, if you could explain these two that would be helpful."
"This class is still awesome!!!!"
"I need to go over this telescope stuff."
"Can we go over telescope terminology in more detail in class? It was a little confusing."
"Do you have a telescope at home that you use a lot? What do you like to look at the most?"
"Will we use a telescope at any point in the course?" (We'll get to visit the telescope shelf for this Thursday's class, and also Thursday night.)
"If I were to purchase a somewhat cheap but somewhat good quality telescope, what kind would you recommend?" (Try out any borrowed or used telescope, and see if that's enough telescope for you before spending much money on one. If you don't really wind up using a telescope very often, a better investment might be a decent set of binoculars, as that would have more uses than just observing the night sky.)
"Did you wake up to see the eclipse last week?" (I was totally woke during the total lunar eclipse. Were you?)