The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 stars
based on  351 reviews
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FREE,
Add a Verified Certificate for $49

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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
4838 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
351 Reviews for The Science of the Solar System

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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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Jorge Calderón profile image
Jorge Calderón profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month 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!
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Jane Collamer profile image
Jane Collamer profile image
9/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month 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.
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Joanne Kennedy profile image
Joanne Kennedy profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 10 months 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.
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D Boomgarden profile image
D Boomgarden profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month 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!
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
6 years, 1 month 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.
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Simon Watts profile image
Simon Watts profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month 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
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Sara Garcia profile image
Sara Garcia profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month 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.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
6 years, 1 month 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.
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Pete Weston profile image
Pete Weston profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month 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.
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Kari U profile image
Kari U profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month 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!
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John Hipsky profile image
John Hipsky profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month 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
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Michelle Christides profile image
Michelle Christides profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month 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.
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G. Wheeler profile image
G. Wheeler profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month 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.
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K Arm profile image
K Arm profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month 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!
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Dan Brown profile image
Dan Brown profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
6 years, 1 month 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.
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David Webbe-Wood profile image
David Webbe-Wood profile image
9/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
A very interesting course which I am enjoying taking. Well presented by the lecturers. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in the solar system
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Meg Ann Webster Noah profile image
Meg Ann Webster Noah profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
Mike Brown and his TAs have produced an excellent set of lectures about the solar system. These videos are exceptionally vetted with references to peer reviewed journals. The course continuity and content is amazing. My favorite parts were about the explorations of Mars - current, past, and planned. I will be using this information as a hobby to learn more about Mars. Please take this superb class and expand your knowledge of our solar system and its implications to other star systems.
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Bob Wake profile image
Bob Wake profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 3 reviews
  • 2 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
Excellent course. Mike Brown is a great lecturer. The material is very well done for a first time offering. I am an astronomy buff and frankly didn't expect much from this course. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised. Good solid material, quite in depth with math at the algebra / baby calculus level. Very good discussion forums with a wide variety of people. I've taken about 20 MOOCs and this one ranks at the very top for educational value and sheer enjoyment. I really had no dislikes about this course. I will sign up for any future courses from Mike Brown - he's that engaging.
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Maximilian Taillandier profile image
Maximilian Taillandier profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
Before I took this course I didn't know much about how the solar system works and how one can simply apply easy physics to understand the fundamentals of how planets evolve. I learned a lot about Mars, it's past and present (Curiosity rover). In the last part of this course prof Brown talked about the eventuality of life in the solar system / universe; it was the most thrilling aspect of this course, because if we detect signs of activity (out there) it would simply revolutionize our thinking. I strongly recommend everyone to take this course, you will learn a lot; mainly because the prof (Mike Brown) is really good, and also because this topic is fascinating
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Olivier NiceDayToYou profile image
Olivier NiceDayToYou profile image
9/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
No prior experience with subject but scientific background. Great course, loads of materials. Significant workload (lectures are longer than average) to get a good understanding of the topic. Fact that course is running in parallel at CalTech brings additional interesting potential. Professor Brown is excellent.
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Dennis Horne profile image
Dennis Horne profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 24 reviews
  • 23 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
This course is run as a parallel flipped class at Caltech. The Mooc participants get all the video lectures, but not required to do all the 'Caltech' exercises, if you did those, the workload would be > 15hrs. Having said that, the content is quite extensive, about double the video time for a typical Coursera MOOC All you need is a general scientific awareness as opposed to deep knowledge. Some exposure to high school differential maths will help with the parts of the course that delve into orbital dynamics. The course took 4 topics, Mars, Jupiter, Small (non-planetary) bodies and extra terrestrial life. It not only discussed these in some depth, but explained the background science used to make the discoveries. Some of the material was cutting edge, quoting papers published this year. The lecture delivery was excellent, Prof Brown has an enthusiastic style which prompted this quote from a Student in the forums : "taking a class with... This course is run as a parallel flipped class at Caltech. The Mooc participants get all the video lectures, but not required to do all the 'Caltech' exercises, if you did those, the workload would be > 15hrs. Having said that, the content is quite extensive, about double the video time for a typical Coursera MOOC All you need is a general scientific awareness as opposed to deep knowledge. Some exposure to high school differential maths will help with the parts of the course that delve into orbital dynamics. The course took 4 topics, Mars, Jupiter, Small (non-planetary) bodies and extra terrestrial life. It not only discussed these in some depth, but explained the background science used to make the discoveries. Some of the material was cutting edge, quoting papers published this year. The lecture delivery was excellent, Prof Brown has an enthusiastic style which prompted this quote from a Student in the forums : "taking a class with Mike Brown is like taking your very first guitar lessons with Eric Clapton as a teacher"
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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.