You can improve your knowledge of all things above the stratosphere, and the tiny specs of mystery that make up the puzzle, by studying online astronomy courses. Here are the seven best online astronomy courses available in 2017. The list begins with a series of free online astronomy courses, and then finishes up with options you can enjoy for an affordable fee.

Astronomy can be an interesting hobby or an engaged study. You don’t even have to own a high-priced telescope to be an enthusiastic stargazer. However, knowing what you’re looking at when you gaze into the awe-inspiring universe is helpful.

1: Introduction to Cosmology

Courses.com offers hundreds of free online learning alternatives. The course list includes dozens of free online astronomy courses. A great place to begin is with Introduction to Cosmology.

The course steps beyond a limited discussion of only astronomy and addresses some real-time environmental questions as they relate to our cosmos. Courses.com offers this course in conjunction with UC Irvine.

  • The course will give you a solid overview of modern scientific cosmology.
  • You’ll learn about how the makeup of the cosmos will have a profound effect on certain types of renewable energy resources.
  • This astronomy course studies the Milky Way galaxy and investigates the premise behind black holes, dark matter, and the big bang theory.

2: Hands-On Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets

Hands-On Astronomy is the second in the list of free online astronomy courses. This course concentrates primarily on the physical items that make up our visible galaxy. Offered through the MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) program, it comes with a solid reputation for expert instruction.

This free course will offer you exposure to the use of small telescopes. You’ll appreciate how they are helpful in formal research and learn how to enjoy a telescope as a hobby.

  • You will learn the concepts and techniques used for visual observation of the stars and planets.
  • The Hands-On Astronomy course will require you to coordinate with an observatory in your area so that you can record your study of moons, planets, satellites, and the stars.
  • After you have completed this MIT OpenCourseWare study, you will be able to pinpoint individual planets, stars, and constellations with confidence.

3: Galaxies, Stars, and Planets

This is a wonderful free class on Galaxies, stars, and planets offered by the Open University. The Open University offers a number of courses under the Open Learn free curriculum. Galaxies, Stars, and Planets is a foundation course that studies these important components of your universe.

  • The class will teach you how to appreciate the relative size and difference between planets.
  • You’ll develop an understanding of how all the different objects in our solar system work in conjunction with one another.
  • Each student will choose a fictional trip to anything in our solar system and learn how to calculate how long it will take to get there.

the mariner satellite in outer space

4: Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics

Continuing with free online astronomy courses offered by acclaimed universities, Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics is an Open Yale Course. The Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics course is taught by the Academic Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Astronomy at Yale.

  • This class focuses on three aspects of astronomy that are very popular today – Extra-solar planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy.
  • You will go beyond exploring what is known in the field of astronomy and discuss the perplexities of how our knowledge of the universe is constantly changing.
  • This is a recorded class, available for open independent study that was taught twice per week, 50 minutes each. You’ll feel like you’re physically sitting in a Yale classroom while learning about the vastness of your universe.

5: Astronomy – State of the Art

Udemy is one of the most popular online learning platforms. They offer a free course, Astronomy – State of the Art. Many of the classes can be taken at a reduced cost using discount offers, but this is a free class in 2017. All you need to be successful in this class is an interest in Astronomy.

  • You’ll receive 7 hours of instructional video, 13 expert articles, plus 15 supplemental resources. Course registration in all Udemy opportunities includes full lifetime access.
  • Professor Chris Impey will guide students through an exploration of innovative astronomy research.
  • When you have completed this astronomy course, you will understand how the technological advances in telescopes are transforming humankind’s view of the universe.

6: Origins – Formation of the Universe, Solar System Earth, and Life

This is the first course in the list of online astronomy courses that has a small tuition fee. It is offered by the online educational website Coursera. Many of the opportunities offered by Coursera have a tuition fee, usually around $100.

There are also a number of free courses available. All that is required to view all available programs is to sign up for a free account. Origins – Formation of the Universe will require a tuition fee, but you will generate a certificate of completion when you’re finished.

  • This course follows the origin of all living things. It begins with basic big bang theory, expanding to the development of different parts of the solar system.
  • You will learn why without some of the fundamental concepts of physics there would be no solar system and therefore no life on earth.
  • The question of what situations would be necessary to sustain life on planets in the solar system other than earth is explored.

7: Online Astronomy Course

You shouldn’t be fooled by the simplicity of the title. This is a detailed examination of astronomy principles offered by the University of North Dakota. The class, Online Astronomy Course, has a tuition fee of $289.42.

However, it will generate three transferable college credit hours. It uses an independent study format, allowing you to take up to nine months to complete the curriculum.

  • This is an open enrollment course, which allows you to register at any time. It focuses on independent study to give you a solid foundation in basic astronomy for future astrophysics classes.
  • This is one of the most detailed classes for studying the concepts of stellar evolution. Lectures and study materials will help you understand how the universe has evolved to its present state.
  • Once you have a grasp of how the universe came into being, this course will take you deeper into theories and ideologies about where the universe is headed.

Bottom Line

These are seven of the best online astronomy courses available for 2017. Five are free and require only that you register for an account at the entity offering the course. Two, have nominal tuition fees, but both of those offer certificates of completion or official college credits.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in astronomy, these online astronomy courses are a great place to start. For those who simply view astronomy as a hobby, they are also a super place to expand your knowledge. Try one or all of them now and expand your vision of the stars.

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