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

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2014
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.
"I found how these astronomers figured out all these complicated things out, yet they didn't have any of the technology that we have today."

"I think telescopes are really cool, I've always had a fascination for stars and I used to have a telescope and I am interested in learning more about them."

"I liked the GIF animation from Under The Tuscan Sun and how it was an analogy for the change of perspective in parallax."

"I really enjoy history so I found this weeks reading very interesting. I particularly liked learning more about Galileo and the pope's order for him to face the Inquisition. He was inspiring in that he made discoveries off of observation and was brave enough to believe what he saw instead of what everyone else believed at the time. It was even more inspiring that he stood by that in the face of condemnation. I like scientists with hearts and not just brains. What he did took moral fiber and I respect that."

"I thought the most interesting part of the textbook reading and of the presentation previews was Kepler's laws and Newton's ;aws and the other info about the other astronomers who were the first to discover things about space. I wasn't very familiar with Kepler's laws yet but they made sense to me and provided an explanation for things that I had previously wondered about. I also was very interested in Newton's laws and those were easy for me to grasp because I'm already familiar with them from previous classes. Learning about their laws makes it easier for me to differentiate between them and the other astronomers we are supposed to remember."

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I found Kepler's laws a little confusing, with some clarification I think I would be fine. What confuses me is how did he come to these conclusions and how did he do so with such rudimentary instruments? Obviously we can see with satellites how planets move now because we have objects in space, but how did astronomers do it before?"

"It's a little difficult to keep straight which astronomer is responsible for a given idea (because there's lots of different astronomers and lots of different ideas). But I'm sure with time and review it will become easier."

"The light gathering information of the telescope is kind of confusing to me still. It is just the wording of the book."

"I found Newton's second law of motion hard to understand and do not get how he got there."

When a planet is undergoing retrograde motion, over several nights it moves __________ with respect to the background stars.
east to west.   *************************** [27]
west to east.  *********** [11]
(Either of the above choices is possible.)   ***** [5]
(Unsure/lost/guessing/help!)  *** [3]

When a planet is undergoing prograde motion, over several nights it moves __________ with respect to the background stars.
east to west.   ************* [13]
west to east.  *************************** [27]
(Either of the above choices is possible.)   *** [3]
(Unsure/lost/guessing/help!)  *** [3]

The __________ powers of a telescope depends on the: (Only correct responses shown.)
light-gathering power: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [72%]
resolving power: diameter of the primary lens/mirror [57%]
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.   ****** [6]
resolution.  * [1]
magnification.   ******************************* [31]
(Two of the above choices.)  * [1]
(Unsure/lost/guessing/help!)  ******* [7]

Briefly explain your answer for the least important feature to consider when purchasing an optical telescope.
"I'm not sure what the least important feature would be. They all seem pretty important to me."

"Images are limited by their resolution, the lower resolution available, the lower quality of image, that is why that is important. Brightness is also important because if the picture is too dark then you won't be able to see anything. Magnification won't matter if those other two features are poor in quality."

"Because it is more important to be able to capture the light than to zoom in on the object."

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"What's the policy on missing class again?" (Don't miss too many, as there are no make-up points, but you can miss a few in-class activities and quizzes without having them adversely affect your grade.)

"I'm having a hard time with reading the lectures before class. This week I just didn't get to it but last week I spent a lot of time on it and didn't understand a lot until you explained it in class. Should I be worried?" (That sounds pretty typical, but at least you knew what you didn't understand before coming to class, and were prepared to learn what you needed to learn.)

"My only question is about the donut on a string--I was wondering which law it was; that was the only thing I couldn't figure out."

"Will we get a chance to use the Bowen Observatory upstairs? (Yes, tonight!)

"By the way, I'm on Team Edward from Twilight. Just wanted to throw that out there." (*smh*)

"Are the post-lecture reading assignment and pre-lecture reading assignment supposed to be the same? I did both because I didn't wanna be marked down for missing an assignment." (They are the same, they're just posted twice for redundancy.)

"Sorry that I tend to draw a lot in class...I noticed that I forgot to change/add a few things on that drawing of you and Grumpy Cat, but I still hope you liked it!"

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