Learn about the science behind the current exploration of the solar system in this free class. Use principles from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology to understand the latest from Mars, comprehend the outer solar system, ponder planets outside our solar system, and search for habitability in our neighborhood and beyond. This course is generally taught at an advanced level assuming a prior knowledge of undergraduate math and physics, but the majority of the concepts and lectures can be understood without these prerequisites. The quizzes and final exam are designed to make you think critically about the material you have learned rather than to simply make you memorize facts. The class is expected to be challenging but rewarding.
Unit 1: Water on Mars (week 1)
Unit 1: Water on Mars (week 2)
Unit 1: Water on Mars (week 3)
Unit 2: The insides of giant planets (week 1)
Unit 2: The insides of giant planets (week 2)
Unit 3: Big questions from small bodies (week 1)
Unit 3: Big questions from small bodies (week 2)
Unit 4: Life in the solar system (week 1)
Unit 4: Life in the solar system and beyond (week 2)
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.
Keith Okancompleted this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
This was my first astronomy course and I enjoyed it immensely. Prof. Brown gives the class depth and warmth. There is even some humorous moments. Although I didn't do well on the quizzes, I found the lectures very interesting. I had a difficult time waiting for the next set of videos to be released! I would highly recommend this course for anyone, even the beginner. There are some points that you may not understand, but there is lots of information that you will. In the end this course will at the very least spark interest in the night sky above. Thank you to Prof. Brown and his guest lecturers for putting this course together.
Mike is a great teacher, and his lectures were excellent. His enthusiasm for the material shows. The chance to learn from someone at this level is fantastic.
He finally has convinced me that it was necessary to reclassify Pluto.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to navigate the homework, especially without a book, and just your notes from the videos. I have never been the best note taker. It would have really helped if there had been an online book, or even a PDF with the important math & formulas, plus text to reinforce the lectures and the important concepts. Perhaps future students could build a Wiki to go with the class.
A fantastic run through of the current state of scientific knowledge of the solar system. Don't expect the homework to be easy, even if the course is free it is a course from Cal Tech, one of the top schools on the planet and the questions are designed to make you think rather than just parrot a fact from the lectures in reply. Prof Brown even gave us the question sets he gave the on campus students to play with for fun.
Prof is very engaged in the forums and there was loads to learnt on there as well.
This class was like a good book. You turn the first page, and there is no return. Mike Brown made accessible to all a quite difficult subject. I have no scientific background, but yet managed to stick with it to the end. It was one of those memorable classes where the chemistry between participants and Prof was at the very top. I can't wait to attend this class again next year, just for the fun.
What are you waiting for? Sign now, you will not regret it. Have fun!
A very satisfying class. The lectures were accompanied but non required readings which went into lots more detail. Professor was quick to respond to online discussions and worked hard to make the quizzes challenging but fair. Of the four online classes I have taken this is the best so far. I learned much about our solar system and how it formed. A solid high school level of math and the sciences is reccomended.
If you are interested in the solar system and exoplanets, you will find this course fascinating. Mike Brown works at the front lines of planetary science, and is an engaging speaker who cares deeply about the subject. The video lectures are carefully edited and the pacing is excellent.
I found the lectures interesting and very enjoyable with very detailed explanation of various astronomical concepts. However, watch out for the homework (quizzes). They are challenging, not just asking you to provide an answer but to think about the question, often requiring you to think about the question and identify which one among several answers is not correct.
This is a great course, the density of information can seem too heavy sometimes, but definitely worth finishing! There is a lot to learn about planets and other bodies in our Solar System, so I would recommend it to everybody who is interested in that subject. Mike Brown is an excellent lecturer, and this course is definitely worth checking out.
This class has to be the BEST class I have ever taken- MOOC or otherwise! Instructor was engaging and really presented a great deal of difficult information in a manner that was easy to follow and learn. I would highly recommend this class to everyone- whether or not you are math inclined. I can't say enough good things about it!
This is a very interesting course and Mike Brown is AWESOME. He explains everything clearly and really makes you think. The homework and courses are very well paced. I didn't know much about the solar system before and I found myself wishing the course would go on and on. Thanks, Mike!
Sue Geecompleted this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
Fast paced and in depth the course reveals a lot about Mars, Jupiter, small bodies in the solar system and planets around other stars. The focus is on how to study them - i.e. the science needed to understand them.
Nice course, supported by scientfic papers and observations. Mike is fun, easy to follow. It will take you from Mars to the fringes of the solar System, focusing at the end on the posibilities of life on another planets.