• 50 Awesome Open Courseware Classes on Space & Astronomy

    Mar 17th, 2009

    Whether you want an introduction to astronomy or are experienced in aeronautical engineering but want to learn more about the physics of the galaxy, you can find helpful study materials, lectures and not-for-credit assignments online through open courseware. Schools like MIT and the University of California offer these resources for mastering the mystery of black holes, learning about the history of astronomy, and more.

    Stars and Galaxies

    These courses and lectures will teach you about quasars, active galaxies, star structure and more.

    1. Introduction to Astronomy: Here you’ll learn all about the basics of astronomy, including the galaxy, universe, solar system, stars and more. [MIT]
    2. The Solar System: Learn all about planetary formation, cratering, orbits and more in this course. [MIT]
    3. Introduction to Active Galaxies: Learn about optical and broadband spectra, Seyfert galaxies, Quasars and more. [The Open University]
    4. The evolving universe: Discover what happened to the universe after the Big Bang in terms of structure, inflation, the quark-lepton era, and more. [The Open University]
    5. Comparing Stars: Discover what stars are made of and how they develop and die in this course. [The Open University].
    6. Big Bang: Study this important theory in the creation of our galaxy and planet. [The Open University]
    7. Elementary Astronomy: Topics covered in this course include binary stars, the formation of the solar system, comets, the moon, variable stars, and more. [College of Eastern Utah]
    8. Gene Smith’s Astronomy Tutorial: Supernovae, Neutron Stars and Pulsars: Learn all about supernovae structure in this course. [University of California – San Diego]
    9. The Moon: Here you will learn all about the moon’s rotation and orbit, missions to the moon, the moon’s atmosphere, and more. [The Open University]
    10. The Sun: Lessons in this unit include Beyond visible light, Observing the Sun, Angular size, Inside the sun, and others. [The Open University]
    11. Starbursts and Colliding Galaxies: View images and animations about galaxies and quasars here. [University of California – San Diego]


    Learn all about cratering, exoplanets, global warming and planet compilation in this section.

    1. Hands-On Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets: Learn how to keep an observing notebook in this astronomy course, which also teaches the basics of using telescopes. [MIT]
    2. Basics of Impact Cratering and Geological, Geophysical, Geochemical Environmental Studies of Some Impact Craters of the Earth: Study impact cratering to uncover the mysteries of some of Earth’s 170 identified craters. [MIT]
    3. Extrasolar Planets: Physics and Detection Techniques: Apply fundamental physics processes and principles to the study of exoplanets in this course. [MIT]
    4. Global Warming: Try to uncover the root causes for global warming and atmospheric change in this course. [The Open University]
    5. Jupiter and its Moons: Lessons in this course include Rotation and orbit, Missions to Jupiter, The interior, The atmosphere, Satellites, and others. [The Open University]
    6. The Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Learn about the presence of water on Mars in this lecture. [UC Berkeley]
    7. Introduction to Planets: View images of planets and get a brief history of the solar system here. [Wikiversity]
    8. Weather on Other Planets: Discover what the weather and atmospheric conditions are like on Mercury, Mars, Venus, Neptune and other planets. [Suite 101]


    These physics courses can help you better understand the science behind space.

    1. Experimental Physics I and II: This junior lab course can help you experiment with physics properties and laws. [MIT]
    2. Modern Astrophysics: Apply Newtonian, statistical, and quantum mechanics physics "to fundamental processes that occur in celestial objects" in this course. [MIT]
    3. Physics I: Classical Mechanics: Watch videos and review lectures to learn about Newtonian Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics, and Kinetic Gas Theory. [MIT]
    4. Atmospheric and Ocean Circulations: Learn all about the physics that controls ocean circulations. [MIT]
    5. Maths for science: Space, physics and astronomy students can take this refresher mathematics course to review scales of measurement, chance and probability, statistics, and other principles. [The Open University]
    6. Motion under gravity: Learn all the basics of gravity in this course, which also introduces students to gravitational energy and energy conservation. [The Open University]
    7. The restless universe: This course applies physics principles to the evolution of the universe. [The Open University]
    8. Introductory Physics: Review the fundamentals of introductory physics here. [UC Berkeley]
    9. Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity and Astrophysics: The study of black holes is used as a microcosm for understanding astrophysics and relativity. [MIT]
    10. General Relativity and Black Holes: Learn about The Equivalence Principle, The Theory of Special Relativity and more from this course. [University of California – San Diego]

    Technology and Engineering

    Learn about the technology and engineering systems that augment the study of astronomy and missions into space.

    1. Space Systems Engineering: Learn how to design ground and space telescopes in this course. [MIT]
    2. Introduction to Aerospace Engineering and Design: This introductory class will teach you all about the basics of aerospace engineering. [MIT]
    3. Aerodynamics: Learn about wing and body performance in this aerodynamics class. [MIT]
    4. Cognitive Robotics: Design your own robot project in this course. [MIT]
    5. Space Systems Engineering: Here you will learn about designing and maintaining space stations, satellites and more. [MIT]
    6. Space System Architecture and Design: Discover how to design and build a functioning space system [MIT]
    7. Engineering Apollo: The Moon Project as a Complex System: Study the Apollo project from an engineering view point. [MIT]
    8. Satellite Engineering: Learn all about "subsystem design in engineering spacecraft" in this course. [MIT]
    9. Rocket Propulsion: Topics covered in this course include thermochemistry, launch and oribtal systems, interpanetary flight systems, and more. [MIT]
    10. Space Propulsion: Here you will learn about all the systems and physics involved with space propulsion. [MIT]
    11. Telescopes and spectrographs: Learn how telescopes and spectrographs are designed and utilized in astronomy. [The Open University]
    12. Receivers, Anetannas and Signals: Those interested in technical communication systems should review this course, which covers topics like astronomy. [MIT]

    History and Society

    Here you can learn about Galileo and the history of astronomy.

    1. Toward the Scientific Revolution: In this course, you will learn how science, mathematics and astronomy were explored during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. [MIT]
    2. Learning from the Past: Drama, Science Performance: Understand how science and drama evolved in western Europe during the 17th century. [MIT]
    3. Space Policy Seminar: This course takes a look at the administrative, managerial and policy-driven side of space exploration. Learn about national security policy, commercial space policy and more. [MIT]
    4. The History of Astronomy: Learn about the important people who impacted the study of the universe here. [Cornell]


    For more study resources related to space and astronomy, review these courses.

    1. Europa and elsewhere: By studying the potential for life on the icy satellite Europa, students explore extraterrestrial life elsewhere. [The Open University]
    2. Modern Navigation: Study "the concepts and applications of navigation techniques using celestial bodies and satellite positioning systems" in this course. [MIT]
    3. A Brief History of Astronomy: Get an overview of the history of astronomy, from Pythagoras to Aristotle to Eratosthenes to Galileo to Isaac Newton. [University of California – San Diego]
    4. The Galileo Project: This project explains important scientific principles and systems, including the Ptolemaic System, Atomism, and other overviews about telescopes, tides, the planets and more. [Rice]
    5. Facts About Meteors: Get an introductory look at meteors here. [Suite 101] .
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