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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Confronting The Big Questions: Highlights of Modern Astronomy by University of Rochester

474 ratings

About the Course

An introduction to modern astronomy's most important questions. The four sections of the course are Planets and Life in The Universe; The Life of Stars; Galaxies and Their Environments; The History of The Universe....

Top reviews


Jul 31, 2017

Excellent course. Very clear lectures that cover a lot of ground in not a lot of time. Fantastic overview of most of what we know about astronomy and how we know it. Best class I've taken on Coursera.


Apr 11, 2018

The is the first time I have rated a course with 5 stars, but this one is worth it. I audited and did not take the exams, but I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and I learned a lot.

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1 - 25 of 146 Reviews for Confronting The Big Questions: Highlights of Modern Astronomy

By Antonia T B

Jun 22, 2018

This course is fascinating. The teacher is great. But the Quizzes are IMPOSSIBLE to pass. They require a simulator that does not work and all the questions have multiple answers and are extremely difficult. Also, there are A LOT of questions in every Quiz: 25. I am extremely sad, but I think I'm going to have to drop this course. It's the first time that I will have to do something like this, but I cannot lose my time repeating for ever an extremely difficult and impossible quiz in a course that it's not intended for professional physicians. I have notified Coursera several times about the extreme difficulty of the Quiz but nobody did anything. If in the future this Quiz is updated and made for learners, then I will happily continue the course. I've read in the Forum that many learners have had the same problems, but nobody arranged the Quizzes. Such a pity. The teacher is great and the lectures are fascinating. But already the 1st Quiz is impossible to pass (even if you take thousands of notes, like I did).

By Sabine L

Apr 2, 2017

Again a course that comes with very simple (and not always good prepared) video lectures but for recieving a grade an enormous math knowledge is necessary, with no further help given

By Ben L

Dec 5, 2019

End-of-week quiz contains materials not covered in the course videos, and is significantly more difficult

By LaVonia A S

Jan 10, 2016

Too much time required. The first Quiz had almost nothing covered in the video lectures. I saved all transcripts and was unable to answer the questions. The Sim's... I have never seen anything like that and again - it most certainly wasn't covered in the lectures. Disappointed in this course. It took 3 hours for each segment of the first week... not 3 to 4 as was stated. Leaving this course.

By Tony D

Mar 4, 2018

The course material is very interesting, the lecturer is dynamic and communicates the information well. But I was unable to get any of the simulators to work on a standard browser, so could not possibly pass the quizzes, since the simulators are required to calculate many of the answers. Regrettably, had to drop course.

By Alexander B

Oct 6, 2016

Very interesting course, isn't too geeky and mathematical, unlike many other astronomy courses. The only thing bothering me was the inability to learn the correct answers and explanations to quiz questions. Some of those were rather mindboggling.

By Aman G

Apr 20, 2020

Must take course for astronomy geeks. Excellent professor. I surely would have given it 5 stars if it were not for the quizzes. The quizzes are too long,tedious and perplexing. Otherwise the course is fantastic.

By Natalia S

Mar 10, 2017

This course is the worst i have taken on coursera. They just want to mention everything in very short time. Quiz is much harder than material on video.

By keith k

Jul 29, 2020

I rated this course a 2 because the lectures are very good. It is unfortunate that the tests are not good.

Many of the questions on the tests are ambiguous and at best, plainly more difficult than needed.

Several of the questions are not covered in the same detail as the lectures. Without a TA or somehow to provide guidance the exercise becomes frustrating. Small details can be instructive, but not in the case of these tests. I spent a lot of time with various interesting simulators only to come up short on the test. This was not instructive. If this were a university course I would be camped in the professors office...and not happy.

By comparison, I recommend Chris Impey's U of Arizona 11 week astronomy course. In order to pass the tests an understanding of the material is required, and the tests are instructive and useful. More tests, but only 8 - 10 questions each.

I will watch the remaining lectures, but I will scrap the tests. Fortunately I have no reason to obtain a certificate. Overall, I am disappointed. I don't mind tests, but they should be fair and instructive.

(That said, I really enjoy Adam Frank's books).

By Cees K

May 12, 2020

Hey Coursera,

A bit more on the course and why I did not proceed.

The course material is excellent, challenging and well presented by the lecturer.

I made an extensive summary in order to be well prepared for the first quiz.

In the quiz I got three simulators that were difficult to start (Flash problems) and without any explanation or exercise before - I could not answer the questions properly.

Next to the simulators there were quite some questions that I could not answer with the knowledge I got during the course.

I ended with a very frustrating 44% - this killed my positive feeling knowing that I had to read (but what?) and get knowledge somewhere else before trying the quiz again.

I decided to stop - I want to learn exciting facts about the universe instead of moving (and being blocked!) from one frustrating quiz to another.

Hope this helps for developing and enhancing your nice course portfolio.

Best regards - Cees Kok (Netherlands)

By E R L

Jun 24, 2018

Can't complete the first quiz because I can't download the simulators. - hence can't complete the course.

By Maria S

May 26, 2020

It is impossible to get 100% on a modern computer for the first two quizzes because they rely on obsolete technology.

By Ann M H

Jul 19, 2017

Professor Frank is super down-to-earth (ha) and easy-going, so the difficult concepts seem less intimidating. I like how the videos are cut into short, topical sections, and the information on the green screen next to him helps with understanding. The weekly lecture note PowerPoint slides are even more detailed.

I had a basic understanding of astronomy coming in, and this course struck a good balance between reviewing info I already knew, and introducing me to some more challenging concepts.

The quizzes were pretty difficult for me, and I had to take 3/4 twice to get a passing score. You really have to take what you learned, think about it deeply, then apply it. It wasn't just regurgitating information, which was good, it also meant I was scouring my notes and Google for a long time. They aren't kidding when they say the quizzes take 50 minutes!

If you can finish this course in four weeks, I applaud you. I admit I wasn't very diligent, but it's a lot of information to digest each week. I took closer to 10 weeks, but they were well-spent months! I learned a lot, and could subsequently "wow" my friends. Very well-done course! Thank you!

By Hafeiz A

Jan 21, 2018

An excellent introduction to the big concepts of Astronomy

By Michael B

May 6, 2020

it is an interesting subject but the content is now quite old and I think could do with updating. I found it difficult sometimes to pay attention to Adam and the way he presents. He seemed to feel rushed in his presentation and this lead to a lack of flow and him stumbling over is words. I would love to see it updated.

By jeffrey m

Jun 2, 2017

too rudimentary discussion/presentation and frequent mention of undefined terms. More explanation would help with natural history of stars before and after main sequence, more detailed discussion of AGN, more discussion of particle interaction

By Leonid S

Jun 1, 2021

Course is abandoned. You can't complete quiz without simulators, which are FLASH-based, packed into .zip alongside with old trash and can't be run in modern browser.

By bernardhung

Oct 23, 2016

Prof Adam has done superbly well in engaging viewers into the subject, the structure of the course is obviously well thought out, so that viewers will be able to comprehend step by step into the deeper mystery of the modem Astronomy has to offer without going into the maths.

After the course, I have the dismay feeling that the course has ended and human being is so minute compared to the vast mega parsec of the Universe.

Bravo !!

By Ayan P

Jan 31, 2016

Now this course might seem small but it is not, the test are really challenging and the knowledge of video lectures aren't enough, you have to dig deep and study from other sources too. The simulations in the test and exercises are cool and fun way to learn. I will highly recommend anyone who is interested in cosmology to take this course but be prepared the ocean is not that calm as it seems.

Happy learning.

By Jana K

Mar 18, 2018

I enjoyed every single session within this course. The topics, the materials, the small tests after each topic and as well the quizzes. Professor Frank explained everything in a clear and understandable way, I did learn a lot about our universe. Of course, studying is needed for passing this course, but I am here to learn afterall and I appreciate the quizzes which made me think and thus test my knowledge

By Deleted A

Jan 3, 2016

Wish I had more professors like mr Frank. His speech being concise and pleasant, it is truly enjoyable to listen to and watch the lectures ; also the 'touch the surface' attitude on various topics boosts your curiosity to look further on and search for answers on your own. This being my first enrollment on Coursera, I cannot but expect the best, as these first lectures have really set the tone.

By Sai K R

Jan 24, 2016

Great introduction to Astronomy! I learnt a lot about the current state and the unsolved challenges in this field. I liked that I could play with various simulators and develop detailed understanding.

As a beginner in Astronomy, I had a little difficulty finishing the first and last week's quizzes. Apart from that, I was able to easily follow the content in the course.

By ankush b

Jun 15, 2020

One of the best courses I've taken on CourSera.Dr.Adam Frank wonderfully took us to the trip of universe and in a very friendly manner taught us the concept of modern astronomy.Quizes were all good and tested the skills inculcated.I recommend this course to all those who have a fascination towards astronomy but are currently pursuing career in some other field.

By Adhyantha C

Aug 15, 2021

This was an excellent course that gave me deep insights into modern astronomy. Professor Adam Frank was amazing and he explained everything very clearly. I really enjoyed it! The one issue that I faced was in the weekly quizzes with the simulators. However, when I went directly to the website of the simulator, I could download it. It was an amazing experience!

By Lynn N

Mar 23, 2017

So far a very easy to understand and enjoyable course. As someone coming from High school with some research and knowledge in Astronomy this was a great way to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and get a more technical sense of Astronomy. The prof makes this incredibly enjoyable. Lectures are paced well and the 'homework'/practice work is easy enough.