The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 stars
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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
4735 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.
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Reviews 10/10 stars
339 Reviews for The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 8 months ago
Very interesting subject, excellent instructor, all the material has been explained plainly but using also the minimum math to make you understand the reasons why. I recommend this course.
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Tiziano Colombo profile image
Tiziano Colombo profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 8 months ago
Excellent course. I learned a lot about solar system. Prof Mike Brown was so engaging students with a plain language telling new findings about the matter.
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10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Excellent on all counts, but Dr. Brown is just plain great. The material was clearly presented and quizzes were just right to reinforce the lectures....wish all MOOC courses were half as good as this. I'll be going back to this course over the next few iterations to follow progress in this fascinating subject.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
Last studied solar system in 1960. Amazing progress since then of course. In the course of taking this course, the course was dynamically updated to incorporate findings, results of experiments and observations. Very impressive. .
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
This was a fascinating class that was very well presented. The format, instructor and material were all excellent. If you have any interest in the Solar System, I highly recommend this class.
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Stibnite profile image
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
Very interesting course on the solar system. Certainly in sufficient detail for space enthusiasts and scientist in general. Teacher is clear and guest lecturers are pertinent
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 10 months ago
I can't find words to thank Mike Brown, Caltech and coursera for this amazing experience. It's the best course I've taken in my life, including my late 90s university years. I've realized how outdated and primitive my knowledge of the solar system was, how far the science has advanced, how exciting modern science life can be, and, eventually, I know now who is be best lecturer in the world :) I'm inspired to learn more about Earth history now, and I'll definitely be returning to the lessons of this course for deeper understanding of some of the details I might have skipped now. I strongly recommending this course to anyone interested in the world around us.
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10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 10 months ago
I feel honoured that I have been given access to this Caltech class for free. Mike Brown is a great teacher, and also a great author -- I have read his Pluto-killing book as a little light relief. Because ,as others have said, this is a very hard course. However it was well worth doing . I look up at the night sky now with completely different eyes. The complexity of the subject was made as accessible as possible because of Prof Brown's clear lecturing style. My one criticism is the style of the Cousera discussion group. On a platform like Future learn, the discussions seem to flow naturally at the end of each lecture. Maybe there were too few people on this particular course for the discussion group to add much or havr much inyrtaction. Having said that, there was a mentor who replying regularly and answering questions.
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8/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 10 months ago
This may be the most interesting course I have taken so far in Coursera. The scope, the depth and the clarity in which each subject was developped and elaborated were magnificent.. The geology content was perhaps a little more complex to follow and understand. My sincere congratulation to Mike Brown
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8/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 11 months ago
Explains some of the science behind discoveries over the last few decades; needs some updating now. Good video lectures although the anecdotal style of delivery sometimes makes them hard to follow. Good resources section. The discussion forum never really got going.
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Thomas Harkins profile image
Thomas Harkins profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 1 month ago
Loved this course mostly because of Mike Brown. He descriptions are very clear and have enough technical information to challenge and encourage one to delve deeper into the subject. Not easy by any means, but very satisfying to participate in.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
As promised, this has been an interesting and challenging course! I learned a lot and I learned that I have a lot yet to learn! I'm not going to lie, this course is not easy. It is, however, doable, even for a novice in space science like myself. Prof. Brown is simply amazing. He has a knack for explaining extremely complicated content in an approachable way. He included a bit of humor throughout the lectures and assignments too, which I loved. This is one of the first MOOC courses I have taken, and Prof. Brown has inspired me to take more. He has also inspired in me an even greater love and appreciation for our planet, our solar system, and the universe beyond.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
This is a superb course. Mike Brown's teaching style is first class. He is engaging, friendly, unpretentious, honest and straightforward throughout. His enthusiasm is contagious and it helped to motivate me to complete the quizzes. Some of the questions were a bit tricky but it was great fun figuring out the correct answers by going back over the material. I really do appreciate the effort put into the course by the Caltech team. Oh, and related to this, I have now read MB's book 'How I Killed Pluto...'. This is a great book and really should be compulsory reading for anyone involved or interested in the intriguing world of Scientific research.
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4/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
I seem to be i a minority regarding other reviews here but for me the contents was much much to sketchily. When there were interesting details that started to be a little complex (for example age determination from isotope ratios) I had the impression that Prof. Brown went over it too fast, maybe not to loose students that dont want these detaillation. However overall I dont feel the course was lost time as I got at least kind of a 'whole size picture' of the solar system I also feel the presentation can be done much better: Just scribbling in oldfashioned overhead-projector style isn't using the possibilities of the format. Moreover I extremly often needed to go back some sec to find the cursor as Prof. Brown often just proceeds with 'here we see' but I dont see where he now starts writing/drawing. Several lectures were marked to be revisited for updates (from New Horizon and Juno data) it would be much better to be informed by ma... I seem to be i a minority regarding other reviews here but for me the contents was much much to sketchily. When there were interesting details that started to be a little complex (for example age determination from isotope ratios) I had the impression that Prof. Brown went over it too fast, maybe not to loose students that dont want these detaillation. However overall I dont feel the course was lost time as I got at least kind of a 'whole size picture' of the solar system I also feel the presentation can be done much better: Just scribbling in oldfashioned overhead-projector style isn't using the possibilities of the format. Moreover I extremly often needed to go back some sec to find the cursor as Prof. Brown often just proceeds with 'here we see' but I dont see where he now starts writing/drawing. Several lectures were marked to be revisited for updates (from New Horizon and Juno data) it would be much better to be informed by mail when there are updates....
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Isabel G. profile image
Isabel G. profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
Everything was awesome. The content was delightful, I really enjoyed learning many things, and my point of view about the spacecrafts and meteorites changed a lot (now, I am able to understand the importance of them, and why for scientists is exciting!) It also made me reflect a lot. On the other hand, I liked that you don't need to memorize the facts, rather, you need to understand them. Finally, Professor Brown rocks!!
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10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 5 months ago
This is the best MOOC I have tried so far. The content is incredibly well structured - a focus on four main topics (Mars, Giant planets, small bodies, and life) for two or three weeks each allowed going into depth on each of the topics, while remaining accessible to newcomers (I, for example, had not done physics since high school). I loved the presentation style - Mike Brown is an excellent instructor, and I prefer the simple style of the lectures, where he talks and draws on the whiteboard, to the often overloaded style of other MOOCs. Sometimes, the lecture is interrupted by short questions on the current topic, which really helped my understanding of the issue at hand. The occasional guest lecturers were also all engaging and clearly experts in their fields. In short, a fantastic course which I would recommend to everyone with an interest in astronomy.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
3 years, 5 months ago
To be blunt, I'm a novice with only a non-parallel undergraduate degree acquired almost 40 years ago. Mike Brown's course forced me to extend myself and do a little research to get a better grasp of his great lecture modules. The quizzes were difficult forcing me to revisit the lectures often (sometimes, over and over again). It was worth it. I highly recommend the course.
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Dan Yudilevich profile image
Dan Yudilevich profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I took this course for some academic credit, but it turned out to be a great course. The course gives a pretty wide survey of topics relating to space research, introducing them in a very interesting fashion. But the beauty of the course to me was that it incorporated tools in many fields - physics, chemistry, geology, biology etc. - and showed how they're utilized in space research. And of course Mike Brown has done a great job in choosing topics, and presenting them in a clear but meaningful fashion.
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Patricio Moreno profile image
Patricio Moreno profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
Excellent course. The instructor is an expert in the field and also a very good professor. Many of the studies that he shows on the classes were done by him and his team at Caltech, that brings the real work in astronomy, the real science, closer to us. The evaluations are hard, but this encourages to pay more attention to the classes and study to get a real understanding of the topics.
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10/10 starsCompleted
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  • 1 completed
3 years, 7 months ago
This has been, by far, the best online course I have taken. The lectures go into detail on the scientific principles behind the planets and the solar system as a whole. You will have the opportunity to look at actual data from several space missions to Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, etc and understand the forces that determined whether Mars has water or life in the past. The instructor is interesting, funny and passionate about the topic. The tests are challenging enough to make you study, but not so hard that you'll give up in frustration. Highly recommended!
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Monika profile image
Monika profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
3 years, 8 months ago
I am new to the course, have only gone through 4 weeks' worth of lectures as of today but I am hoping very much that I'll complete it. I don't need to but I kind of feel obliged to because the amount of preparation that has gone into this course is immense. It is free, it is about reaching as many people as possible around the world with little notes of encouragements when the Maths and Physics get heavy. It is incredible that all this information and the quality of lectures are available for free. The updates are continuous, reviews are encouraged. Prof Brown is very famous and successful as a scientist but perhaps he found his true forte in teaching.
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10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 8 months ago
Mike Brown does a fantastic job of explaining the scientific adventure of understanding the solar system, its composition and history, talking about the details about searching for exoplanets and finally about how we can hope getting hints about life somewhere else in the Milky Way. The pace is definitely ambitious, references to research literature are provided along the way, and there are some very good guest lectures. Among the best lessons I'll carry home are the exposition of the scientific reasoning behind, (in)validating hypotheses along - or rather not when evidence is not sufficient. The part on small bodies of the solar system by itself is worth registering by itself, so little known for the general public and yet so much to learn from it. And Mike Brown's enthusiasm is so evident that you can't escape learning. Overall, great course, great topic and lecturer, it has been quite a feat.
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10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 10 months ago
Very profound coverage of the subjects for hobbyists like myself. Mike Brown is Inspiring, funny, informative, I would take another course with him as instructor anytime. Only minus: sometimes technical problems with the audio (background noise).
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 11 months ago
Course content was challenging. Some math. I was able to learn how to do, and did do, some basic planetary science computations. E.g. I now have code that calculates the expected equilibrium temperature of a planets surface. Handy to have. Instructor was very knowledgeable in the field. Lectures held my interest. I watched the lectures at 3/4 speed to take notes. Frequent pauses. Provider Coursera software works very well.
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Raquel Stoltz profile image
Raquel Stoltz profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 11 months ago
First, thank you very much for your hard work and dedication! Definitely, this was the most enjoyable course about our solar system I have taken. Mike brown and his colleagues shared their knowledge about us and or existence in the universe with so much passion, love and in a very didactic way! I got very emotional at the end listening Mike´s words... Because of you I planned my next vacation all related to astronomy! I will visit the telescopes in Chile, the meteorite museum, spend the night camping at the desert to observe the sky and use all the tools and websites you guys provided to us to make my trip unforgettable! Please, continue with the hard work, I am addictive to the amusement our universe brings to my life! Thank you again!
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years ago
best i've taken - so far very much liked instructor style & approach would sign up for anything he teaches very timely - will need to be updated with in a few years especially after 2020 mars mission
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 3 months ago
The main instructor, Mike Brown, did a great job. It would have been helpful to have had college physics for some of the discussions, but I still got a lot out of those discussions without that course. I would recommend this course to anyone.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 3 months ago
professor mike brown of Caltech is with no doubt the best online instructor iv'e encountered. It is not easy to compress that much knowledge into only 9 weeks of video lectures, yet Professor brown does an amaizing job in my opinion' while keeping it interesting, funny and refreshing. The course features various guest lecturers which is also nice to watch. At a certain point mike takes us (the viewers) to a 'field trip' to one of the worlds' most prestigous places for astrofisicists - THE SUBARO TELESCOPE. BEST VIDEO FIELD TRIP EVER. The course's content was fascenating and left me with hunger for more.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 6 months ago
Outstanding lectures from Mike Brown, he has such a good style teaching. His videos are actually exciting, does not feel like school but entertainment.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 7 months ago
Mike Brown is a fantastic instructor. He addresses a myriad of issues, does an excellent job of covering the subject. Most importantly he jumps into the middle of discussions and fully participates in the forums. Its kind of like being in the classroom. The subject is not easy and their is some math involved. But you can get by if you ensure that you do well in the not math questions of the homework. You will come away from this course with a great appreciation for astronomy, and the science behind it. You will also understand why CalTech is a great university!!
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