The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 stars
based on  341 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
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
  • 3 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I have loved this course, even when some of the homework had me tearing my hair out; a sign of a stretching course. Prof Brown and his TAs approach the subject with enthusiasm, passion and a lovely sense of humour (anyone who has a twitter handle of @plutokiller sets out their stall in the humour stakes VERY clearly).
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10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I thoroughly enjoy this course. I do have some background in astronomy, and this course was a good in-depth look at the members of our solar system. There is some basic knowledge in physics required but not too much maths ( if you worry about that). I like the way Prof.Brown explains difficult subjects so you can basically understand them. If you're in for more you may go to the Caltech section. I did like this offer as it tells you what is expected from Caltech students. It comes without saying that this was way way above my level of knowledge and understanding ! I really appreciate all the efforts by Prof.Brown and his team to make his knowledge accessible to all of us, free of charge. A big thanks to all involved in making this course!
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Steve Bosley profile image
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10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Just the best online course I have so far done - amazing content, excellently presented ... not too simple, not too hard. Mike Brown makes this an easy journey with a very engaging and often witty style - I will certainly look out any other courses he produces! I thought I knew a reasonable amount about the subject when I started but I was blown away by the insights that Prof Brown gave into the science behind some truly remarkable discoveries. Water on Mars - who knew ? I now understand the structure of Jupiter and why it must be so. The section on Asteroids was an astonishing demonstration of how modern computing can convincingly show how the early Solar System must have evolved. And finally, I was relieved to hear that there is probably life on earth ! If you are at all interested in the Solar System, you must do this course
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
The organization of the course into three mayor questions is brilliant idea. Mike's method of delivering the material and then leaving you with a cliffhanger will make you want to come back for more. Nexy week in the same science channel at same science hour!! Loved the course.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 2 reviews
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
This course is well researched and engaging. The homework is rigorous and demanding but reasonable to undertake at the level of a Freshman in college. The course encourages one to think and the guidance by the instructor and staff are extremely helpful.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Outstanding course explaining what the current state of understanding is for the formation of the solar system and similar bodies and the underlying science that support the hypotheses. Very engaging and enjoyable but also moderately challenging.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
I would highly recommend this course for anyone who has an interest in the solar system. I looked forward to each lecture for the information and the pleasing, accessible way it was presented. I look forward to taking more courses this way.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
I highly recommend this course. It is well planned and produced. Dr. Brown is an excellent instructor. He struck a good balance between the depth and breadth of topic coverage.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Excellent, very educational course. If you have any interest in astronomy, don't hesitate about taking it. Mike Brown is the best lecturer you could ever imagine.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Very interesting, very inspiring, and challenging without requiring endless calculations. Best course I've encountered on planetary science.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Brilliant course, it is accessible to those without any knowledge of the subject. I found it amazing what we know already about the solar system. There is some maths but this can be skipped it it's not your thing. Mike Brown makes the subject interesting, I found out that alot of what I thought I knew was wrong, and I am now a fan of all this exploration that NASA and the European space agency are making in the solar system when I wasn't bothered before. Just sign up today!
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
I had tried for some years to finish a course via internet, on areas I like. This is the first time, I finished the whole course in time and now waiting for the final homework or quizzes. Have for a teacher someone who shows not only with his work, but with his voice, face, and body, the passion that he have for what he is talking about, is the most appealing thing that can happen for a class, as I had experienced it life before. Mike is a fantastic teacher, and I hope his research continue giving us, more insights and understandings about our solar system and our self. I conclusion, I will recommended to whoever wants to take the class regardless their physics or math level, to do so, it is worth the time and effort. Thank you Mike, and CALTECH for this great opportunity.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
Unfortunately two things slowed it down for me. First my math skills were not up to speed for some of the assignments. 2nd, So much more to be discovered but probably not in my life time. Prof Browns humor, some may have missed it, is often subtle and tongue in cheek, but to me provided an indicator as to how seriously he takes himself, along with the love of the subject. Die! Pluto Die!
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10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I have loved astronomy since I was 6. I have read innumerable technical SciFi books, many set in the solar system. Thus I thought I knew a lot. Then came Prof. Mike Brown and showed me how little I really know and how much more there is to know. He is truly a gifted teacher. And the three lectures from Kevin Hand from JPL are very good too. The lectures are many and long and the homework is hard, make no mistake. Don't fall behind. This class is a necessary tool for those who read astronomy-relted news on the media - an antidote to sensationalism.
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2/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Excellent, excellent, excellent. I enjoyed the format and the review questions and explanations. Instant feedback provided me with what I needed to review further. It took me a while to realize the additional readings section was available and enjoyed that when I was there. How about a recommendation for a good text book. I finally bought a planetary textbook by chance inspection and it was great and real,y helped me review and I dersfand the comments better. I looked at the Caltech homework and wow that is much harder (of course) and I learned a bit by just looking at the questins and seeing how I might proceed on answering the questions too.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
Just finished the course, waiting to do Final Exam. Really enjoyed the course. More technical than expected but could be followed by anyone with high school physics and algebra. More qualitative than quantitative , so not difficult to follow. I like the style of the professor. I didn't give him a 5 star,. I would have given a 5 star had he used slides to illustrate the more quantitative points rather than writing on a white board. But that's a very personal preference.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Mike is great, and makes everything so interesting. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in what we are discovering about our world and the universe today.
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
Dr. Brown (Mike) does the most excellent presentations and lectures one could hope for from any subject or class. The course is not easy, but not so tough that one couldn't finish it with moderate effort; Mike makes it understandable and adds his devilish, and sometimes very subtle sense of humor. Only thing that could be better is if you had the privilege of taking the class in person instead of via the internet. Thanks Mike!!!
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10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 10 months ago
This was a very good course, with very current information, and a very good and inspiring instructor. Top! Good references accompanied each lecture, I tried to check most of them, they were good, and I will keep those as background also for future reference. What I liked especially was the clear impression that prof Brown gave about the uncertainties we face in this area of science.
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Kristina Šekrst profile image
Kristina Šekrst profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 102 reviews
  • 102 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
A great instructor with great lectures, and some guest ones as well. The homework was tricky, but worth it, It's nice to have some calculus background if you'd like to pass the course. To continue, all in all the class is a must-enroll for the mysteries of things that are right in front of our noses - in our Solar system. Professor Brown participated actively in the forums, which increased the overall quality of the course. A strong recommendation.
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10/10 starsTaking Now
4 years, 10 months ago
This is a fun course! Prof Brown has an upbeat delivery style, occasionally sneaking in a joke or jab. More importantly, he explains the physics behind the topic very well without talking down to you. I appreciated being able to hear lectures from a Cal Tech class without having to study for their tests! Prof Brown is extremely knowledgeable about this subject, being an active researcher for many years (decades). He brought his insight into many topics, sharing his opinion (and labeled it as such). He also, on occasion, roped his colleagues into guest lecturing, which was also fun. It felt like I was tagging along. I know this class was a lot of work to put together, and I thank Prof Brown for doing this. I am being nit-picking in my following criticisms (meant to be constructive; I do give this course a 5--well deserved!) As a viewer, it was often difficult to grasp exactly what he was pointing at on the screen ("...now in ... This is a fun course! Prof Brown has an upbeat delivery style, occasionally sneaking in a joke or jab. More importantly, he explains the physics behind the topic very well without talking down to you. I appreciated being able to hear lectures from a Cal Tech class without having to study for their tests! Prof Brown is extremely knowledgeable about this subject, being an active researcher for many years (decades). He brought his insight into many topics, sharing his opinion (and labeled it as such). He also, on occasion, roped his colleagues into guest lecturing, which was also fun. It felt like I was tagging along. I know this class was a lot of work to put together, and I thank Prof Brown for doing this. I am being nit-picking in my following criticisms (meant to be constructive; I do give this course a 5--well deserved!) As a viewer, it was often difficult to grasp exactly what he was pointing at on the screen ("...now in this feature over here...") due to low contrast on the screen; scribbles already there; or maybe incorrect pen settings. Anyhow, the pen often failed to highlight the area of interest. A set of notes or slides would be helpful, as I am a visual learner. Maybe include a set of the pictures or notes ahead of time in a slide packet? The questions were fairly hard, but the instructor was merciful with the hints (ie "Review lecture 3.02, 3:30 on") on certain choices. Overall, they were fair and a good way to cement the material into my memory. Some questions required me to review the material to achieve a better understanding. I also liked the three attempts at the quizzes.
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Gleb Polyakov profile image
Gleb Polyakov profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 5 months ago
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10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 6 months ago
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Michael Florian Schönitzer profile image
Michael Florian Schönitzer profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 7 months ago
Great course. I thought marsian geology was boring – Mike thought me I was wrong. Learned a lot, even on the topic I wich I already knew a lot about, he told things that were new to me. Thanks!
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10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 8 months ago
Great subject. Excellent curriculum. Mike Brown is the best teacher and an interesting person. Fascinating- we want more. I was glued to my computer screen, taking it all in throughout the course- and enjoying every moment. I'd encourage all space science enthusiast to take this (hey, free...) course. Note to CalTech media- for the next course (I just can't wait...) please improve and clean the sound quality and the video image & colors- you are a technical school after all, aren't you?
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Brett Schock profile image
Brett Schock profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 8 months ago
I had dabbled in this area for a while and this was a perfect combination of just enough science to make me feel accomplished and that I was really learning something in depth, while at the same time keeping it "light" enough that I could track. Dr. Brown's skepticism and sometimes cynicism got to me at times, but his knowledge is undeniable as is his passion. Overall he did an excellent job of taking tiny details and extrapolating them into the storybook of the history and function of the solar system and the universe as a whole. The way this course expanded my appreciation for details was as valuable as the ridiculous amount of knowledge about the solar system I was able to absorb by the time I finished the lectures (a couple months late!)
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Charles Clark profile image
Charles Clark profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 6 reviews
  • 6 completed
5 years, 8 months ago
You'll have to work in this course, and it's worth the effort to learn the material. Dr. Brown and his colleagues are engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about planetary science. Want to figure out all the physics of how all this crazy stuff got into orbit around the Sun? Take this course. There is some math, all entirely manageable and necessary to understanding the material.  The math explains and expands on the physics.
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10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 8 months ago
The videos were outstanding and engaging.......challenging yet so thought provoking
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Marguerite McElroy profile image
Marguerite McElroy profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 9 months ago
This was probably the most challenging, exciting and rewarding course I've ever done - and that includes courses taken in standard university settings when much younger. I had some self taught background in astronomy before doing the course, but very little in planetary science. The teaching was extraordinarily good and stimulated me to levels of achievement I would not have dreamt possible. I have my certificate of accomplishment in pride of place.
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10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 9 months ago
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