The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 stars
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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
4764 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
341 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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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
I think this was a great course. Good balance of general information, physics and chemistry making it of interest to those with little science background but also worth the time of someone looking to understand in more depth, what we know about the solar system and how we know that. Mike Brown was a very good instructor.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Take this class. I can't recommend it enough. Mike Brown is an excellent teacher. The quizzes are challenging but appropriate. I have taken many online courses and this is the best class by far. The content was suberbly and thoroughly presented. The mechanics of taking the class was hassle free.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I have taken several Coursera courses, some have been presented by good professors, some have been presented by mediocre parrots, and one or two have been presented by truly outstanding professors. We all know to which group Professor Mike Brown belongs. He has taken an immensely complex and vitally important subject and presented it in a clear, precise and fascinating way so that even a relative inexperienced person can understand and become enthused.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Course is well done. Not much math which I found a bit disappointing but those who dislike math will find this to be to their liking. The solar System is studied in a lot of detail.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
A pure joy to have had the opportunity to take this class from Mike Brown-smart, clever, articulate, and funny. Big thumbs up to him and CalTech for making it available through Coursera. Thank you! Anne
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Stuart Greenhouse profile image
Stuart Greenhouse profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Pretty much the gold standard for how great an MOOC can be. Engaged forums, brilliant teacher, fascinating subject matter. Not as hard as Ronan Plesser's Intro to Astronomy, but still pretty demanding in that the quiz questions will make you review pretty solidly the week's lectures.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
I have taken multiple MOOC courses and this one is the best. The subject was presented with an integrated overview of multiple aspects of planetary science including historic, current, and future perspectives. Professor Mike Brown is an outstanding instructor. His explanations are clear and concise and delivered with humor. I was never bored , even when he delved into complicated scientific calculations. As a non-scientist lifelong learner, I was stimulated to new learning and the Coursera format supported the learning process very well. The course was challenging, especially the homework (quiz) assignments.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Great course. Great videos. I learned so much. And also, most importantly, I realize why the solar system is interesting as compared to all that far away stuff.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I'm a science light-weight and enrolled in this course out of curiosity, but stayed for the amazing experience. I've taken quite a few courses through Coursera, but this one was by far the best in terms of learning experience and a deepening understanding of science in general, and astronomy specifically,
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Absolutely worth the time and effort for the course. Professor Brown is a fabulous instructor and the other instructors too. I learned many things about the solar system which have given me a better understanding of many subjects. Many thanks to Professor Brown and the other instructors for a great solar system ride.
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John Wildridge profile image
John Wildridge profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
A fantastic course! I'm an amateur astronomer and have studied on a few MOOCs previously. This was by far the most comprehensive. My old A Level in maths came in useful after blowing the cobwebs away and is this course is not for the beginner. That said, the lectures are beautifully written, engaging and thought provoking. Each homework is pitched (IMHO) at the right difficulty to make me think, but not to discourage me from returning week after week. I would highly recommend this course to anyone with a reasonable grasp of maths, an interest in science and astronomy wanting to learn for either pleasure or professional gain.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Best MOOC to date. Innovative conversational presentation style. Extraordinarily thought through material selection. Challenging,instructive exams. Very active comment threads. Very intelligent class. Just superb!
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
An excellent introduction to the current issues in understanding our solar system: how it formed, what it's made of, how it is structured, why Pluto isn't a planet anymore, the search for life, and so on. I sometimes found myself wishing there were more technical / mathematical detail, but taken on its own as a sort of super-deep documentary programme, it's absolutely great. The instructor is very engaging and (it is worth mentioning) quite active in the forums, answering questions and so on.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Full course , fascinating explanations clear and compelling , I learned a lot , especially the interest in things closer but no less intriguing. The material presented is much and leads you to a full immersion of nine weeks in astronomy of the solar system .
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Sonja Duijvesteijn profile image
Sonja Duijvesteijn profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 2 reviews
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
The contents of the course are exactly as described in the overview, going through the solar system in a non linear way. For me this order worked really well, rather than going to the planets one by one the different order allowed us to take a deeper dive into the subject every week. It's not so much about learning the hard facts, although there are plenty of those as well, but mostly about how did we/the scientists get to those facts. And what do we not know yet, and what do we suspect but can't proof yet. I especially liked that there was a lot of skepticism in the course about certain discoveries as well, because it taught me to not belief everything that's published but to look at the underlying study. And it taught what to look for in those studies and what that means. Another thing I loved, although highly personal, is the dislike of the instructor of lame acronyms for space missions. It's those little things that make ... The contents of the course are exactly as described in the overview, going through the solar system in a non linear way. For me this order worked really well, rather than going to the planets one by one the different order allowed us to take a deeper dive into the subject every week. It's not so much about learning the hard facts, although there are plenty of those as well, but mostly about how did we/the scientists get to those facts. And what do we not know yet, and what do we suspect but can't proof yet. I especially liked that there was a lot of skepticism in the course about certain discoveries as well, because it taught me to not belief everything that's published but to look at the underlying study. And it taught what to look for in those studies and what that means. Another thing I loved, although highly personal, is the dislike of the instructor of lame acronyms for space missions. It's those little things that make the course not just educationally great but fun to follow as well.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
I am a retired ex-engineer and found this MOOC just excellent. It did exactly what it said in its introduction but to an unexpectedly detailed level. As the content was so encompassing and convincing I didn't feel the need to partake in the forums.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Great course. By the end of it you certainly will have increased your knowledge about our Solar System. The Home Works are not easy, but if you are doing the course because you love it, you can do them fine. Prof. Brown is great as a lecturer and his videos are far away from being boring. A stimulating kind of course. A must to to every one that desires to know better about our HOME.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
All were awesome. Great scientific yet understandable course. Professor Mike Brown has a knack for explaining complex astronomical concepts in easy-to-understand ways.
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8/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Excellent course accessible to anyone with some knowledge of physics and math. The material is interesting and very well explained even though it has to be simplified somewhat for a broad audience. I only watched the lectures and got more than what I expected from this source alone. Of the dozen or so MOOCs I have taken, this is certainly among the top 3.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Great class, awesome instructor! Highly recommended! I was somewhat new to this course. It did go in-depth and was also broken down so that anyone could get the gist of it.
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Jakob Isaksson profile image
Jakob Isaksson profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
It's a great course for everyone interested in astronomy! Prof Brown is an excellent lecturer and manage to guide you through even the parts with more difficult mathematical/physics, even if you have only minor skills
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John Wilkins profile image
John Wilkins profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
A pleasantly challenging course covering the less 'glamorous' areas of the science of the solar system, and other solar systems, delivered by the very friendl and modest Prof. Mike Brown, who is quick to acknowledge that there are parts of the subject for which we do not yet have sufficient information to make definitive conclusions, and asks, in occasional 'polls', what we, the students, based on our knowledge so far, think may be the most likely option (from 4 or 5 offered). All in all, stimulating, and a greta lot of fun to do.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Wonderful course ! A great intro to the solar system. Mr. Brown is an excellent professor, and fun to listen to. I have had other astronomy courses and this one is by far the most interesting one I have taken. Course covers different areas and puts them together bit by bit. This is a great course to take! John P
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Excellent instructor with great amount of useful information. If he was to hold another course, I would gladly join it. The course itself is divided in 4 parts, each lasting 2 or 3 weeks and overall length is 9 weeks.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Excellent course. Lectures included details of raw data and their interpretation in a straight forward manner. While a science background helps it will still interest a general student.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
This course, led by an outstanding teacher, is not just a roller coaster ride through the science of the solar system; it's a training ground in the kind of discipline on which all good science depends. Employing a dry sense of humour throughout, Prof. Brown instils respect for the scientific method in his students; the kind of respect that makes him a good astronomer and can help us all to distinguish fact from fiction in our investigations of the world. The word 'maybe' takes on a life of its own during the course, escaping the lips of its progenitor and infecting the lively discussions that the course engenders in the forums. Some of the details require a knowledge of physics and chemistry but this course can be approached at many levels and offers insights to those with little scientific training as well as those who may be well versed in the subject. Planetary science is a very exciting field right now as missions such ... This course, led by an outstanding teacher, is not just a roller coaster ride through the science of the solar system; it's a training ground in the kind of discipline on which all good science depends. Employing a dry sense of humour throughout, Prof. Brown instils respect for the scientific method in his students; the kind of respect that makes him a good astronomer and can help us all to distinguish fact from fiction in our investigations of the world. The word 'maybe' takes on a life of its own during the course, escaping the lips of its progenitor and infecting the lively discussions that the course engenders in the forums. Some of the details require a knowledge of physics and chemistry but this course can be approached at many levels and offers insights to those with little scientific training as well as those who may be well versed in the subject. Planetary science is a very exciting field right now as missions such as Galileo reveal our solar system in a detail never previously seen and we begin to discover and explore systems elsewhere in the galaxy using ever more powerful instruments. As a result, our ideas about the evolution of the solar system and of life itself are changing very fast and the course approaches some long standing questions about our very existence and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Well taught, I learned many new things, downloaded the videos and plan to review them to solidify my understanding.It accommodates different levels of preparation by including the homework given Caltech students which is much more mathematically challenging.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
This is the best online course that I have ever taken. Dr. Brown does an excellent job of presenting the material in such a way as to keep the interest of the student. The presented material is not just limited to the solar system (as if that were really a limit) but includes other objects in the galaxy. There were some minor technical glitches that I am sure will be taken care of although I kinda liked Mike's green hair:)
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Rhiannon Feiryred profile image
Rhiannon Feiryred profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I will keep doing this course till Mike Brown gives me a job! His teaching is superlative. I completed this course a year ago and am repeating it as revision for my planetary science module next week. I feel a strong urge to watch all the videos again before next Friday!
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Mike Brown has done an amazing thing with this course. He tells a fascinating story about solar system science organized into components that are deeply interrelated. But even more importantly, he empowers students (of all types) to try and understand the processes scientists use to learn about the solar system. This is done with such respect that even if you are uneasy when equations are occasionally introduced, you feel encouraged to struggle a bit to get the concept. And that is so much fun.
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