Introduction to Astronomy

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9/10 stars
based on  30 reviews
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FREE

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Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4715 reviews

Course Description

An introduction to astronomy through a broad survey of what we know about the universe and how we know it.
Reviews 9/10 stars
30 Reviews for Introduction to Astronomy

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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Timon profile image
Timon profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 10 reviews
  • 10 completed
6 years, 2 months ago
This has to be one of the best MOOCs I have taken so far. Professor Ronen is an amazing instructor and the way he and his team interact with students in the forums is mind-boggling. They changed parts of the course on feedback while we were still taking it and responded not only to creative discussions on the discussion board, but also to problems one might have with the homework assignments.
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Julian profile image
Julian profile image

Julian

10/10 starsCompleted
5 months, 3 weeks ago
I absolutely loved this course! I wanted to watch it again, only to discover - to my chagrin - that Coursera inactivated it , and is basically hiding it. I contacted their customer support, but they were totally unhelpful, brushing me off with: "We migrated website to a new platform on 2016, and some courses that were offered then, such as Introduction to Astronomy, did not make the final cut". Anyone knows where I can get hold of a copy? I tried YouTube, the Duke U. website, web searches - all to no avail.
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Manuel E. Grullon profile image
Manuel E. Grullon profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 0 reviews
  • 0 completed
2 years, 1 month ago
I have no words to describe what this course have mean to me . The way the teacher uses his knowledge to teach us abut the universe is just perfect. I thougth Im was so good at maths , but in this course i have learnd that i was no lucky with maths teachers. I take this course the first time it was on deck, and the material on maths they suggest for the people that was going to take the course was just perfect. This course have a really big impact in my life, words cant explain that. I could take it again . it wa wonderfull
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
3 years, 2 months ago
It so interesting that I have followed it over the course of years. I wasn't able to keep up with the pace, as I had too little prior knowledge of physics and too little time, but I have downloaded all the videos and the homeworks and am still working on it 4 years after I initially tried it.
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Kristina Šekrst profile image
Kristina Šekrst profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 102 reviews
  • 102 completed
4 years, 3 months ago
Beware, this is not an introduction in the right sense of the word. It takes a lot of your time, but it's worth every second. In this course you'll even get an introduction to relativity and string theory from professor Plesser who's a string theorist himself! This was the first astronomical course I have taken, and it changed my life for the best, since I couldn't get away from astrophysics. Teaching style is great, and professor actively participated in the forums. It was a fun ride!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 3 months ago
I have attempted 6 courses in astronomy on Coursera since completing this course and Ronin's was, by far, the best of all. He is interesting and captivating, even through the physics and calculus! Please, please have him teach another course!
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 4 months ago
A great course, unique one for the MOOC platforms because providing so deep and elaborated materials. The homeworks are not simply some quizzes related to the lectures topics but a whole experience in solving real examples that not only help you revise the lectures info, but also expand your knowledge applying it to real things. It was tough and I couldn't make on time (actually I am still struggling through the 6th week though the course ended a month ago) but it is a unique course with so many tempting features that can help you deepen your knowledge, with wonderful TA-s and inspiring professor. Highly recommended for those who are not afraid to be challenged.
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Julien Dubois profile image
Julien Dubois profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 2 reviews
  • 0 completed
4 years, 6 months ago
A truly amazing course! My best online course experience so far. Mr. Plessen is passionated and structures this introductory course in a very interesting way, going through a history-based and incrementally more complex understanding of how much we can observe of the universe, what we can theorize about it, and how we match our models with our observations.
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Pranav M profile image
Pranav M profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 6 months ago
I was an astronomy enthusiast long back, and read a lot of stuff what was missing was the underlying physics and math. This course was perfect for me. I'm not very good at geometry so the first week's positional astronomy pushed me to the limit. The next two weeks are relatively easy after that its really great. The video lectures are first rate. And the programming assignments are tailor made to get a better understanding of the underlying physics with the help of math. The assignments are indeed time consuming but worth it. Couldn't take part in the discussion forums myself. But they are very good. There's nothing more you can ask for, from this course. The best online course I took. It consumes a lot of time. But totally worth it.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 2 months ago
Background of basic Astronomy, this was the most difficult and challenging course I've attempted. We were warned by Ronan at the beginning it would be hard..............it was, heavy on Math, no calculus, excellent well managed forums, superb TA's, the comradeship in the forums was friendly and encouraging guiding you through the quizzes. Time well spent, learnt a lot, made some good friends. Would I go through it again (sleepless nights, many discouraging moments countered by 'light bulb moments' ..........Resounding YES
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Marlena Siwiak profile image
Marlena Siwiak profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
5 years, 2 months ago
Great, but demanding. Make sure that you have enough time to complete it. Lectures are long, but very interesting, so you never want to skip. The material covers almost every aspect of astronomy (not very deeply of course) and provides a good opportunity to review some basic physics knowledge. No former background is needed, because everything is explained on the fly, however, some mathematical/physical enthusiasm is required to complete homework assignments. Apart from "Calculus:Single Variable" and "The Science of the Solar System", one of the best Coursera courses I took so far (out of a dozen). Highly recommended!
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Robert Davis profile image
Robert Davis profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 16 reviews
  • 16 completed
5 years, 2 months ago
I took this class in its first iteration. One of the most challenging and rewarding classes on Coursera. Ronin Plessor's enthusiasm really draws you in. The material is what you would expect for a traditional astronomy class. Lots of math. If the course is still structured the way it was when I took it, I suggest not giving up in week 2/3 where most of the math jumps in. Stick with it! There are great things to come in the following weeks. (and the math gets easier) This class ranks as one of my favorites of any online classes I have taken.
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C Manydeeds profile image
C Manydeeds profile image
1/10 starsDropped
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 7 months ago
Prior to taking the course, I took physics and math courses as part of my BS. I have an interest in the topic and taking up stargazing again. I am not trying to earn credits or a degree with this course. I took this course for fun. This was my first Coursera experience. Sadly, the experience was largely negative, and I dropped the course. Compared to other college level courses, I found this course lacking is several areas. First, the instructor has very poor public speaking skills. It is difficult to learn a subject when the speaker punctuates their discussion with "ummm" or "awww" frequently. Second, in many of the courses I have taken, the lectures and the coursework had a direct relation. This course lectures do not have any relation to the course work. An example is the discussion on orbits where the lecturer spends most of a20 minute video discussion on outdated "earth-centric" universe, with less than 3 minutes to discuss the ... Prior to taking the course, I took physics and math courses as part of my BS. I have an interest in the topic and taking up stargazing again. I am not trying to earn credits or a degree with this course. I took this course for fun. This was my first Coursera experience. Sadly, the experience was largely negative, and I dropped the course. Compared to other college level courses, I found this course lacking is several areas. First, the instructor has very poor public speaking skills. It is difficult to learn a subject when the speaker punctuates their discussion with "ummm" or "awww" frequently. Second, in many of the courses I have taken, the lectures and the coursework had a direct relation. This course lectures do not have any relation to the course work. An example is the discussion on orbits where the lecturer spends most of a20 minute video discussion on outdated "earth-centric" universe, with less than 3 minutes to discuss the actual formula the home work will require. Third, the home work was originally forecast has requiring 3-6 hours of work per week, but the actual time was significantly greater, between 10-20 hours per week. Finally, I do not feel I really was getting anything out of this experience, other than to just read the lecture transcripts for the formulas to do the homework. I expected the course to discuss astronomy, but it was really "applied mathematics to astronomic problems" I disliked the method of teaching, with poor presentation. I disliked the home work that had no relation to the lecture. I disliked the overly burdensome time requirement for "fun" lecture. I cannot recommend this course due to the lack of teaching, and misguided attempt to discuss astronomy.
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Martha profile image
Martha profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 5 months ago
Previously I had no formal academic work in astronomy, although I have been an amateur astronomer for over 10 years. I did take some physics in college - over 50 years ago. This class was more rigorous than I expected and I learned much more than I expected. I found the quantitative aspects amazing. Ronen Plesser and the TA's were always helpful and got me through the problem sets, which were used to expand on the subjects covered in the lectures. I feel like I knocked a couple of pounds of rust out of my brain! This was my first on- line course, so I can't compare it to others.
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ShloEmi Ohayon profile image
ShloEmi Ohayon profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 12 reviews
  • 10 completed
5 years, 4 months ago
Outstanding course in a nutshell. It's not an easy course, so embrace yourself for a journey, but what a wonderful one. Prof. Ronen Plesser is a talented teacher. I highly recommend this course, but - only if you have the time for it.
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Homer Thompson profile image
Homer Thompson profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 9 reviews
  • 7 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Ronen's Intro to Astronomy is probably the best MOOC I have ever taken. I was skeptical when I signed up because it's algebra based, but it definitely wasn't the kiddie intro I was initially expecting. Instead it's an unbelievably fascinating look into our universe just filled with mind-blowing discoveries, and current ones. Current as in this year or this month. Though the mathematical level is pretty low, there is a ton of information in this course. And it's not rote memorization (if it was I would have hated this class and rated it an F-); Ronen gives very clear and convincing explanations, though he talks fast so you might need to pause every once in a while to catch up! Just so much cool stuff in this course, and it really gets amazing after a few weeks in when you start learning about the formation of the solar system, then the main sequence, but the supernova, special relativity, and black hole sections are the real sweet spo... Ronen's Intro to Astronomy is probably the best MOOC I have ever taken. I was skeptical when I signed up because it's algebra based, but it definitely wasn't the kiddie intro I was initially expecting. Instead it's an unbelievably fascinating look into our universe just filled with mind-blowing discoveries, and current ones. Current as in this year or this month. Though the mathematical level is pretty low, there is a ton of information in this course. And it's not rote memorization (if it was I would have hated this class and rated it an F-); Ronen gives very clear and convincing explanations, though he talks fast so you might need to pause every once in a while to catch up! Just so much cool stuff in this course, and it really gets amazing after a few weeks in when you start learning about the formation of the solar system, then the main sequence, but the supernova, special relativity, and black hole sections are the real sweet spot of the course. Ronen is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had the privilege to take a class from, and he and Justin are very active on the board helping people and answering tons of interesting off-topic questions too. The demonstrations he does are really cool, like making a slow-motion video of how a sound wave propagates, or another one showing how perceived gravity drops to zero in free-fall. The simulations (such as the orbit of a binary star system) are really cool too. It's a tough course even if you have more than the prereqs, but anything worth doing should be difficult. I can't recommend this course enough for anyone reading right now and considering taking the December 2013 offering. Even better, the material is spread over an extra couple of weeks this time around versus when I took it, so it should make the physics review section more manageable for people who might not have seen mechanics and E&M; in a while. But you come away from this course feeling not like you know a bunch of facts, but that you understand why so many of these facts are true. It's a lot of fun.
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Andrea profile image
Andrea profile image
4/10 starsCompleted
  • 6 reviews
  • 5 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
This course had great information, but violated it's primary guidelines. The time commitment was supposed to be 5-7 hrs/wk, but some weeks had almost 5 hours of lecture. Just studying the lectures took the allotted time. The problem sets were very time consuming, also. It bothered me to not be able to complete the workload as I was very much interested in doing so. The forums had a lot of ignorance - not being critical, just that there were very uninformed people trying to guide others on problem sets. There wasn't good feedback to promote learning either. The professor tried to cover too much material and at too great a depth. I hope this class will be offered again, but with the approach of being an overview as it was apparently originally intended.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
6 years, 2 months ago
I had very little knowledge of astronomy before this class, but now I feel I know a lot and will major in the subject in college. Dr. Plesser is a great teacher and I hope this course is offered again soon. There was a fair amount of math in the homework assignments, but this just made me understand the material even more thoroughly.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
6 years, 2 months ago
1\. Professor: Outstanding! One of the best professors I've had! 2\. Content: One learns not only Astronomy, but also a bit of celestial mechanics, quantum mechanics, relativity and particle physics. Starts with elementary positional astronomy and goes up to black holes and dark matter. All explained in an efficient manner. 3\. Video and Slides: Very well designed. Some of the videos use computer animation. Some experiments are performed by the professor himself. 4\. Miscelanea: Links to various resources such as simulation softwares are provided. 5\. Grading: Based on homeworks involving both qualitative and quantitative questions. One can try the homework up to 100 times, until the content is fully assimilated.
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andykp profile image
andykp profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 4 reviews
  • 4 completed
6 years, 4 months ago
great instructor, relaxed lecture style, lots of content is covered so you need a decent background in general topics in physics problem sets are challenging but luckily the forum were great help
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Marcelo Albuquerque profile image
Marcelo Albuquerque profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 4 months ago
Best online course Ive taken so far. Lectures focus on concepts and are very didatic and fun! \----------------------------------------------------
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Brock Sides profile image
Brock Sides profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 10 reviews
  • 8 completed
6 years, 5 months ago
In spite of its title, this class seems like more than just an introduction. The material starts with the local solar system, and makes its way out in space to the furthest reaches of the known universe, and in time back to the first fraction of a second after the big bang. The video lectures are first rate, and the instructor is enthusiastic about the material. But the homework is difficult and time-consuming. Unless you have a solid background in algebra and classical mechanics, you're not going to be able to do it. I gave up on doing the homework after four weeks because of the time commitment. But there's no reason to feel guilty about just "auditing" a class. I thoroughly enjoyed just watching the lectures, and when we got to neutron stars, black holes, galaxies, and the expansion of the universe, every single lecture was mind-blowing!
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Franz Huber profile image
Franz Huber profile image
4/10 starsDropped
  • 6 reviews
  • 3 completed
6 years, 5 months ago
Well, I did expect some Math and Physics but this was way too much. Astronomy is definitely an interesting topic and Ronen Plesser seems like a very good professor. However, I gave up after the thid week because I was finally too frustrated. Especially the weekly problem sets were just boring and - in my opinion - only solvable with a lot of googling. I expected something different from an introductory course.
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emediquei profile image
emediquei profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 5 reviews
  • 5 completed
6 years, 6 months ago
This course covers a lot of areas from Astronomy, from finding stars in the sky to the big bang. It also covers some physics, which may be a bit difficult. The final week, which treated cosmology, was also very challenging, but I guess there is no way to explain this topic convincingly without using some math. The teacher is very engaging and organized several Google Hangouts with the students.
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Anthony R profile image
Anthony R profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 11 reviews
  • 10 completed
6 years, 6 months ago
A wonderful course. Did not have the maths to complete the exams, so I audited the course. Thoughtful lecturer and good content, ranging from the easy to appreciate to discussions that I had no real idea as to what was being presented, but hung through it with a good deal of interest. The instructor was a game participant in live webcasting, which is always a nice feature of a MOOC course, even though he seemed to be in learn-as-we-go mode! No problem there. He handled it well. A wonderful learning experience. Background in the maths and physics that form the basis of astronomy definitely need to compete for a certificate of completion. However, can be taken just for the enjoyment of learning the material.
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daisykho profile image
daisykho profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 11 reviews
  • 7 completed
6 years, 4 months ago
What a course by the incomparable Dr. Ronen Plesser and his TA Justin. The materials were very hard taking from the word go, taking one through the physics required to understand basic Astronomy. The course required many hours for the homework which was designed to further one's understanding of the subject by working through them. This course had an outstanding discussion forum with many helpful contributors without whom it would have been much harder to complete. Very hard course but well worth the effort. Highly recommended.
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nml profile image
nml profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 12 reviews
  • 12 completed
6 years, 4 months ago
A really good course, but with one problem. Lectures were excellent. They were fun to watch, clear, everything you need to pass this course was on them. Exercises expected from you some knowledge about transforming algebraic equations, but objectively weren't that hard. However there was too many of them, but I would say about it later. Exercises were test, but not a multiple choice. You had to enter correct solution. There was no exam, and only homework mattered in getting certificate. Thresholds were 70% and 90% for distinction. The problem with this course was overload of lectures, and exercises. Especially during week 2, but other weeks also took some time to take. Original deadlines had to quickly be extended by 2 weeks. I think that course would be much better if there would be one or two additional weeks, or maybe even it would be splited in two parts. Fortunately forum was very helpful, and organized and you could easily find... A really good course, but with one problem. Lectures were excellent. They were fun to watch, clear, everything you need to pass this course was on them. Exercises expected from you some knowledge about transforming algebraic equations, but objectively weren't that hard. However there was too many of them, but I would say about it later. Exercises were test, but not a multiple choice. You had to enter correct solution. There was no exam, and only homework mattered in getting certificate. Thresholds were 70% and 90% for distinction. The problem with this course was overload of lectures, and exercises. Especially during week 2, but other weeks also took some time to take. Original deadlines had to quickly be extended by 2 weeks. I think that course would be much better if there would be one or two additional weeks, or maybe even it would be splited in two parts. Fortunately forum was very helpful, and organized and you could easily find help if you got stuck on some question. Course was great, but if I were you I wouldn't take it unless you have some free time to do it.
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Diego Rodríguez profile image
Diego Rodríguez profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 5 months ago
This must be one of the best courses in coursera, and enthusiastic teacher Plesser one of the best teachers. You will learn about planets, stars, galaxies, relativity, cosmology... An essential course if you're curious about the universe. The problem is that this challenging course is hard to follow and it will take you more than 10 hours per week to complete the videos and quizzes.
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Doug profile image
Doug profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 6 reviews
  • 6 completed
6 years, 5 months ago
My favorite MOOC so far, but this is not a course for everyone. The course greatly exceeded my expectations for the quality and amount of material. The instructor and Ronen were very enthusiastic about the material - both but far more into this course than the average I've seen so far in online courses. Both were very active in forums and they did several Google hangouts. To take this course, you should really want to an introduction to Astronomy and the physics behind it. You have to want to really want to learn the science - this is not just a descriptive course. You don't need more than high school science and algebra as a background. But, you have to be able to apply algebra and physics concepts to the problems. You don't just calculate numbers, you have to have the insight to choose the right formulas, etc.
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Martinez profile image
Martinez profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 8 months ago
This is really interesting course. I am only in the first week of the class. The professor really enjoys what he does and it shows. The first week has about 3 hours of video lecture with lots of tools, maps, and video used. The hard part for my is the physics. I'm not a math wiz and I am hoping the graded quizes will not have alot of matmatical questions. We have two quizes to take in the first week, so we'll see how it goes.
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