The Science of the Solar System

Provided by:
10/10 stars
based on  336 reviews
Provided by:
Cost FREE , Add a Verified Certificate for $49
Start Date Upcoming

Course Details

Cost

FREE,
Add a Verified Certificate for $49

Upcoming Schedule

  • Upcoming

Course Provider

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
4719 reviews

Course Description

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.
The Science of the Solar System course image
Reviews 10/10 stars
336 Reviews for The Science of the Solar System

Ratings details

  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars
  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars
  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars

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.

Sort By
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 3 months ago
I put "medium" for Course Difficulty, but that will depend on your scientific background and commitment to the class. I had to work hard, as I do not have any previous scientific knowledge,and this was my first class in planetary sciences. Si, I should have put "hard" iso "medium". Easy, Medium or Hard, really it's quite irrelevant in this case. This course is absolutely superb. Prof. Mike Brown's enthusiasm for the subject is contagious. Before you kow it you are hooked, and there is no return. If you are a total beginner, do not hesitate to ask questions. There will always be someone more knowledgeable to rescue you. We had a fabulous group of people in this class, so helpful. Mike Brown is also very present in the discussions and very close to the participants at all time. The feeling is like having a friend explaining this space "stuff" in a very accessible way for the newcomers to the field. So, really, what are you waiting for:... I put "medium" for Course Difficulty, but that will depend on your scientific background and commitment to the class. I had to work hard, as I do not have any previous scientific knowledge,and this was my first class in planetary sciences. Si, I should have put "hard" iso "medium". Easy, Medium or Hard, really it's quite irrelevant in this case. This course is absolutely superb. Prof. Mike Brown's enthusiasm for the subject is contagious. Before you kow it you are hooked, and there is no return. If you are a total beginner, do not hesitate to ask questions. There will always be someone more knowledgeable to rescue you. We had a fabulous group of people in this class, so helpful. Mike Brown is also very present in the discussions and very close to the participants at all time. The feeling is like having a friend explaining this space "stuff" in a very accessible way for the newcomers to the field. So, really, what are you waiting for: Enroll Now, You won't regret it!
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
ShloEmi Ohayon profile image
ShloEmi Ohayon profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 12 reviews
  • 10 completed
4 years, 1 month ago
Prof. Brown is an excellent and funny teacher. The HW were not easy, but I learnt a lot from it. If you want to learn how real astro-science is done - take the course. Keep in mind that there are a lot of maybe and unsure results (this is real science), so it's very technical in its base. Bottom line - it was a fun, educational, informative course.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Edward Bobinchak profile image
Edward Bobinchak profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 4 reviews
  • 4 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Mike Brown is a great lecturer! Good sense of how to communicate the big ideas without getting mired in the details. Good with "chalk talk" graphics. And a dry sense of humor to keep up your interest. I am likely to take the course again next year to get a better grasp on how we know that we know about the solar system and to learn what is new in this rapidly expanding field.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 3 months ago
The course is extremely fun, professor Mike Brown has a knack of making things very, very interesting. It was a fascinating journey into a field into which I just had a vague notion of the details and discovered some of the intricacies and subtleties that makes it all the more enjoyable. I found myself craving the lectures and talks by professor Brown and the invited guests. English is not my native language and it was clear, easy, well paced and well documented. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend the course to everyone interested in science.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 3 months ago
This course was my first MOOC and i'm pretty sure it has spoiled MOOCs for me. Prof. Brown is a fantastic teacher and his humorous, heartwarming style of teaching is just perfect. The homework was not easy, but on the other hand the student is forced to collect extra information and to think about it really hard. All in all this was a great journey and i'm so happy that i have been a part of it. Thank you Prof. Brown and all the amazing people who helped you providing this class!
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Heather Hedlund profile image
Heather Hedlund profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I have a degree in Chemical Engineering from Caltech, so I was confident that I would have enough background to be able to follow along with most of the science. I've never taken any classes (in college or online) in the area of planetary science, so this was my first exposure. I thought most of the lectures were fascinating, and I learned a lot about planets and other bodies in our solar system. The homework questions were challenging, but reasonable. I loved all the pictures from satellite and telescope images. I also discovered some websites through this course that I'll definitely revisit. This course also showed me how little I know about geology and how fascinating it is, so I will be looking for some geology MOOCs to take in my future. I definitely thought my time was well spent.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Angela Peterson profile image
Angela Peterson profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 3 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Wow! I signed up for this course on a whim and I'm addicted. I had no prior experience with MOOCs. Prof. Brown explains things so well and makes them interesting & understandable, even for the scientifically challenged. My challenge with the class was that the quizzes required more insight than I remembered. I will likely take it again.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 3 months ago
This was an excellent course. I'm in my early-mid 60's and took the course just to see what I could learn. As it turned out, quite a bit. Mike Brown, the Guest Lecturers and Teaching Assistants did a wonderful job of presenting the material in a humorous, humble and insightful way that was easy to pick up. I did get hung up a bit in the math, but it's been a long time since I had to go through that; no matter. If you're adept at "higher" math, you're fine; if not, don't worry about it (I didn't) because there is so much else to absorb to get the teaching points. If in the future you get an opportunity to take a similar course from Mike Brown et al, do it.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 3 months ago
Fantastic course. Especially good in showing how we know what we know, what we believe and what we guess. Conveys the enthusiasm and importance of the work exceptionally well. I found the course very easy to follow at a superficial level, but on a few occasions tried to work the math details and that seemed clear also (although a bit difficult) The ability to give lectures that work at different levels is quite rare in my experience. Makes me think that this could be used as a section in a high school course to illustrate scientific thinking along with fun facts about the solar system.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Charles King profile image
Charles King profile image
7/10 starsCompleted
  • 6 reviews
  • 4 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
It's definitely helpful to have some background in astronomy, but this need not be formal in any way. A basic understanding of high-school physics and maths is all that's needed. The course is an excellent source of material for those who want to go beyond the more basic astronomy courses. It teaches not only the state of current knowledge, but how that knowledge was gained, which as Mike Brown points out in the last lecture is far more important. The only downside is that there's only so much that can be packed into 9 weeks, so many topics could not be covered in the depth they deserved. But it provides a good foundation for further exploration of the subject. Definitely worth taking for anyone who wants to find out more about what's happening with Curiosity, Cassini, etc. The one real problem with the course is that the quizzes are a bit of a mess, with some obvious errors, and still need a lot of work. But the real value lies in t... It's definitely helpful to have some background in astronomy, but this need not be formal in any way. A basic understanding of high-school physics and maths is all that's needed. The course is an excellent source of material for those who want to go beyond the more basic astronomy courses. It teaches not only the state of current knowledge, but how that knowledge was gained, which as Mike Brown points out in the last lecture is far more important. The only downside is that there's only so much that can be packed into 9 weeks, so many topics could not be covered in the depth they deserved. But it provides a good foundation for further exploration of the subject. Definitely worth taking for anyone who wants to find out more about what's happening with Curiosity, Cassini, etc. The one real problem with the course is that the quizzes are a bit of a mess, with some obvious errors, and still need a lot of work. But the real value lies in the material covered in the lectures.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Christophe delrive profile image
Christophe delrive profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
During this course, we learnt a lot of things about the solar system. Mike Brown and his teams have succeeded to share their enthousiasm about this subject and about science. Not a basic course with old fashioned knowledge but a good level class using the latest data. Great course. If you are curious and eager to understand more of our "backyard", go to this course.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 3 months ago
I had some prior experience from other MOOCs. This course was one of the best in content. I learned a lot in quite a short time. It was very intense, but I could never wait to start the next lecture.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Uri Abraham profile image
Uri Abraham profile image
8/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I had little interest in our solar system until I have enrolled to this course given by Professor Mike Brown. The lectures were fascinating and presented really well. Very well balanced in terms of difficulty and content. Definitely recommended to people who would like to learn more about our solar system and other similar systems Great course !
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Paul Meyer profile image
Paul Meyer profile image
9/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Though I have no hard planetary sciences background, I've previously taken an Astrobiology Course from University of Edinburgh, so there was some overlap about the search for life on other planets and the science involved in making such determinations about what to look for, by breaking down the history of life on earth and comparing that to similar processes on other planets. This course goes into much greater depth on the subject and on how science takes apart the elements of the solar system, to explain how they were formed from the time of large body formation. Historical and very recent scientific evidence is compared and contrasted to tell a story of the solar system that forms the probable and improbable explanations for how the planets, and small body objects came into being, demonstrating the great variety of physical characteristics and makeup that they have. I really liked the instructor, his enthusiasm for the subject mat... Though I have no hard planetary sciences background, I've previously taken an Astrobiology Course from University of Edinburgh, so there was some overlap about the search for life on other planets and the science involved in making such determinations about what to look for, by breaking down the history of life on earth and comparing that to similar processes on other planets. This course goes into much greater depth on the subject and on how science takes apart the elements of the solar system, to explain how they were formed from the time of large body formation. Historical and very recent scientific evidence is compared and contrasted to tell a story of the solar system that forms the probable and improbable explanations for how the planets, and small body objects came into being, demonstrating the great variety of physical characteristics and makeup that they have. I really liked the instructor, his enthusiasm for the subject matter, his simplified explanation of complex processes, and his realistic skepticism about conclusions drawn from scientific observations in the solar system. The guest lecturers and TA presentations were also great. I really liked the detailed images and website resources shared for self exploration of Mars and its fascinating geological features that tell us so much about the history of Mars. I thought the in depth focus was a bit much at some level when having to perform complex physics calculations, but the conclusions that were drawn from those calculations made up for it in providing big picture explanation of the complex processes involved in planet formation and determining how the puzzle of the solar system fits together. The Homework was not frequent enough, being only every couple of weeks, so would have liked it to be weekly to better understand more of the material presented. I wish the homework was not quite so difficult also, and that you had a little more time to complete, but did recognized that it was a lot more about really understanding the concepts than about just memorization of facts. I haven't taken the Final yet but imagine that it is going to be quite challenging if the homework quizzes are any indication. I really do recommend the class to anyone interested in the real observational science that goes on in the continual discoveries being made within our own solar system, as well exo-planets beyond.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Lauren Gonzalez profile image
Lauren Gonzalez profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Thoughtful, informative, very interesting. Great companion to Mike's book, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. Great book, great course.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Jorge Calderón profile image
Jorge Calderón profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I took some astronomy related courses before this and they were good, but this one turned out to be fantastic! I don't think you can find another with this level of enjoyment and benefit. It doesn't involve too much math or physics but it gives you a good understanding about how things work in the solar system. If you really like astronomy and have the compelling need to know more about our solar system then this is the course for you. I strongly recommend it. Mike Brown's passion for his work is really contagious and the way he explains the science involved in the course makes it very easy for you to understand. You better go for this course! Thank you Mike!
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Jane Collamer profile image
Jane Collamer profile image
9/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Dr. Mike Brown is a personable, knowledgeable professor who can teach difficult concepts to novices. I had previous experience in the subject, but it has been a long time since I read an Astonomy-related articles. The main reason I took this course was to catch up on all the missions currently working and the findings we have discovered about our solar system. I was astounded at all that has been uncovered and concluded from the missions! This is one of the best MOOCs I have taken so far (out of 7). The quizzes make you think; in other words, you really work for every point, but you definitely feel you've earned the points! I recommend this to anyone interested in astronomy. Dr. Brown is a great professor; even if you may not be interested in astronomy, just try it, because it is worth watching his videos.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Joanne Kennedy profile image
Joanne Kennedy profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years ago
Excellent course presented extremely well by Prof Mike Brown whose enthusiasm captures you and carries you along for the whole course. I struggled with some of the math, not haven taken physics but carried on and learnt so much. I have had an interest in astronomy for many years but never took it much further than buying a telescope and star atlas and looking up at the night sky from time to time. Since discovering Coursera and FutureLearn and EDx, I have taken other Astronomical courses and this is the hardest so far, but with the best presenter. Highly recommend.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
D Boomgarden profile image
D Boomgarden profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
The last formal class I had in Physics/Astronomy was in 1984. I knew going into this class it would be tough for me to get through the advanced math, but in reality Professor Brown limited the complicated math so that even I could understand! He teaches with such enthusiasm and charisma that you feel as though you know him personally by the end of the class. I would HIGHLY suggest taking this course. You will be amazed and astounded by the information and the sense of humor Professor Mike Brown uses to present the materials. If I could give it 10 stars I would!
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 3 months ago
This was my first "classroom" experience in 38 years. Green in the beginning as it didn't sink in to take tests over within the alloted time if I wasn't satisfied with my results (who would have thought?). I can't get enough of this subject matter and have been following spaceflight and space sciences since the 60's. I want to thank Mike Brown (and everyone involved) for making this available and providing such a wonderful course.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Simon Watts profile image
Simon Watts profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I attended this to get trustworthy update to knowledge I already had from a degree many years ago, New Scientist and so on I was not interested in the exams - purely to listen. And that I did and was amazed by the details. Very good fun
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Sara Garcia profile image
Sara Garcia profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I have taken several online and distance learning courses in Astronomy and this is the best one I've ever done. It covers the subject in much more detail than similar courses and is very well taught and structured. The lecturer is very enthusiastic about the subject and an excellent speaker. I really recommend this course.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 3 months ago
I had a little bit of experience with the subject but I learn more than what I expected. Highly recommended, the course presented by Mike Brown is very enjoyable.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Pete Weston profile image
Pete Weston profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I have a general background interest in this area, and have been immensely impressed by the quality of this course. This is by far the most impressive of the MOOCs I have taken so far, with the visual materials and standard of presntation both being superb.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Kari U profile image
Kari U profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
I had taken a few other classes before this one, and I learned stuff, and they were ok. But after the first week of videos of this one, man, I decided this is how more classes should do it. Not only were the videos excellent, but Mike Brown was both professional and friendly (sometimes funny!) and was clearly passionate about the topic. I thought it would be neat to brush up on a few things, and instead I found myself re-watching videos and taking notes and really wanting to soak in all the information. I believe a lot of that passion came from Mike Brown. Take this class!
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
John Hipsky profile image
John Hipsky profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Excellent and timely information. Homework at times required you to extrapolate the correct answer. This could take a lot of time and research but that was OK for me. The math was presented quickly but the review capability overcame that drawback. The drawn illustrations need to be larger and there needs to be a better way of knowing where the instructor is pointing when he references a chart. However, the review capability came to the rescue again. All in all, a really great and informative course. I recommend it for all "planeteers". Excellent
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Michelle Christides profile image
Michelle Christides profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Lifelong amateur astronomer, wanted to major in Astronomy at U of Michigan and my advisor told me (1963) -- "NASA doesn't hire women." After becoming Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in W. Civilization, I can truly say there is no more rewarding field of knowledge than Astronomy and the search for Intelligent Life. Mike Brown and his grad students have put together the best (understandable and comprehensive) all-round explanation of science applied to our solar system and taken it farther out into the galaxy in a fascinating think-for-yourself-and-apply-what-you've-learned way to the contemporary space missions. Thank you, CalTech! Coursera is a force on this planet to regenerate life and civilization. Think about it: around our planet anybody who can get to a computer and internet connection can get a world- class education and work to change the world.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
G. Wheeler profile image
G. Wheeler profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Challenging and interesting class. Dr. Brown is a great at communicating complex ideas in a clear manner. The class is fast paced and requires a bit of work if you don't have the math and physics background. You will learn a lot in those 9 weeks--its been a journey and one that I hated to see end. Dr. Brown is inspiring and even though I am not getting credit for this course, he still inspired me to want to work hard and understand this material. I would definitely take another class from Dr. Brown, and if Science of the Solar System is taught again with different topics, then I'll sign up for sure.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
K Arm profile image
K Arm profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
Mike Brown and his TAs did a great job with this online course and I learned so much about Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, the Kuiper Belt, the Asteroid Belt and other fascinating things about our Solar System. The course was semi- difficult, so I do recommend taking notes and paying attention. Mike is an awesome teacher, very engaging, funny and passionate. Don't get him started on Pluto!
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag
Dan Brown profile image
Dan Brown profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
This course is enjoyable to watch. Other than a small amount of mathematics, viewing the lectures is similar to reading a well-written general introduction to planetary science. The level is similar to popular science books written by Isaac Asimov or George Gamow, updated by half a century of discovery. I only watched the lectures, I did none of the homework and none of the tests. The lectures were easy to understand with high-school level of physics (gravity, orbital mechanics) and chemistry (simple reactions of small molecules). In addition, it helps if you have picked up somewhere along the way some feeling for photon (light) wavelength vs. energy and for material state vs. temperature. The topic areas are well chosen. In addition to discussing relatively settled science, the course presents open scientific questions, along with a mention of planetary exploration missions now in progress. Having watched the course, I will have a m... This course is enjoyable to watch. Other than a small amount of mathematics, viewing the lectures is similar to reading a well-written general introduction to planetary science. The level is similar to popular science books written by Isaac Asimov or George Gamow, updated by half a century of discovery. I only watched the lectures, I did none of the homework and none of the tests. The lectures were easy to understand with high-school level of physics (gravity, orbital mechanics) and chemistry (simple reactions of small molecules). In addition, it helps if you have picked up somewhere along the way some feeling for photon (light) wavelength vs. energy and for material state vs. temperature. The topic areas are well chosen. In addition to discussing relatively settled science, the course presents open scientific questions, along with a mention of planetary exploration missions now in progress. Having watched the course, I will have a much easier time understanding the results of those missions as they appear during the coming years.
Was this review helpful? Yes0
 Flag

Rating Details


  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars
  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars
  • 5 stars
  • 4 stars
  • 3 stars
  • 2 stars
  • 1 stars

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.