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Astronomy 101 - Basic Astronomy Course



Hawaii, Mauna Kea Observatory
Michele Falzone/ Photodisc/ Getty Images
Webster’s Dictionary defines Astronomy as “the study of objects and matter outside the earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties.” Truthfully, though, you could say that astronomy is the study of everything, because everything is a part of the Universe.

There are many fields within Astronomy. Cosmologists study the Universe as a whole, including its beginnings. Astrometrists measure great distances. Planetologists study planets within our own Solar System as well as those orbiting distant stars. Radio Astronomers use radio-telescopes to study the Universe. There are also Mathematical Astronomers who use numbers, calculations and statistics to explain the universe.

Astronomy is not a “stand-alone” science. It combines areas from a number of other fields, including mathematics, chemistry, geology, biology and physics. In fact, physics is such an integral part of the field that many astronomers are also known as Astrophysicists.

Why should we study the Universe? As we said earlier, everything is part of the Universe, and that includes us. That's right. You are part of the Universe, everything is. We live on a planet, Earth. The Earth circles the Sun, which is a star called Sol, and just like all the other stars it is part of Outer Space. Hopefully, as you learn more about the subject, you’ll appreciate just how much astronomy has affected and continues to affect your life.

How to Take This Course:

The suggested time for completing this course is ten weeks, one week per lesson. You can, of course, move through the material at a faster or slower pace, it is all up to you.

  • Read through each lesson.
  • Follow the links within the lesson to find more in-depth information
  • Study the related definitions.
  • Complete the associated assignment.
  • Ask questions or make comments in the forum. (Please utilize this feature. Class interaction is a big part of what it is all about.)
  • Optional: Read some of the Related Resources articles.
  • Move on to the next lesson at your own pace.
  • Once you have completed all ten lessons, take the final quiz and receive your certificate.

Astronomy is the oldest science, so let’s take a quick look at its history.

First Lesson > Astronomy History from Ancient Astronomers through the Renaissance > Lesson 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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