The Science of the Solar System

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10/10 stars
based on  341 reviews
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Course Details

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FREE,
Add a Verified Certificate for $49

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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
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.
The Science of the Solar System course image
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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Walter Martinez profile image
Walter Martinez profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
This is a great course. This course doesn't tell you the known facts about planets, comets and the solar system. It explains you how they were able to figure it out how the solar system was formed, how planets were formed and their expected inner-cores, asteroids and comets. Mike has a great ability to explain complicated topics in an easy way. He makes physic and chemistry concepts easy to understand. The exams are focused in understanding the concepts. I really enjoyed this class and I recommend it very much.
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Fernando Sá profile image
Fernando Sá profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I am a teacher of physics for students with age about sixteen, seventeen years and i can use some of the lectures to give certain details about my teaching program. Very interessant. Hope to see you soon
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William Thygerson profile image
William Thygerson profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It fills in the gaps left by my college courses and tv science shows, and answers many questions about how astronomers, physicists, and chemists come up with their conclusions. The main instructor, Mike Brown, is very engaging, uses humor effectively, and keeps the course interesting. The lectures are short, 8-20 minutes for the most part, so they are easy to fit into any schedule. It is very up-to-date, covering the latest discoveries, space missions, and methodologies, and provides a fascinating insight into how scientists think about various problems. The best part, though, is that it is easily understandable by laymen, yet has enough technical depth to make it of interest to those with extensive technical backgrounds. Equations used to prove various hypotheses are shown, but the concepts are explained clearly enough that the equations aren't necessary, and can be ignored. Highly recommended.
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C D profile image
C D profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I've never taken a MOOC before, as I don't have a lot of free time generally speaking. I took it on a whim and boy am I glad I did. There was so much material to cover and yet I never felt unable to maintain the course pace. The homework assignments were tough, but well appreciated as they brought out subtle points that I hadn't picked up initially. I think taking your own notes will make the course much more enjoyable.
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Shimon Barsini profile image
Shimon Barsini profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Mike Brown is a wonderful instructor.  The video lectures are excellent, clearly a lot of work went into them.  I didn't do any of the homework or take the tests because I was just taking this course for fun and to learn something about where I live in the universe.  I watched all the videos, sometimes more than once to get some complex points repeated.  I only wish the course was longer, I will miss it.
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Shawn Dvorak profile image
Shawn Dvorak profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
The quizzes were challenging and required careful thought. Overall the videos were informative and included a lot of visual data that helped explain the concepts.
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Daniel Folha profile image
Daniel Folha profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I have a strong background on physics, maths and astronomy, not only from academic training but also by professional activity, including teaching at the university level. Are you looking for an opportunity to learn not only about the current understanding of the Solar System and its objects but also how scientists got there? Then this course is for you. The course definitely is worth more than the sum of its parts. Caltech Professor Mike Brown's excellent lecturing skills make it relatively easy to follow the course material. Those without a background on maths and physics may have a harder time but can still grasp the big ideias.
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Jennifer Beach profile image
Jennifer Beach profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
more in-lecture quizzes would be helpful. otherwise, the course was well- paced, thorough, and included lots of additional readings and resources. exceeded my expectations.
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Meap Derp profile image
Meap Derp profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Outstanding. If you have any interest in the solar system at all, this course will be fascinating. Challenging, but not head-bangingly hard.
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Professor Piddlesnitch profile image
Professor Piddlesnitch profile image
9/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I loved the videos, and the drawings and visual representations really helped me a lot in understanding the concepts. The in-video quizzes were awesome as well, and although I had a little difficulty with the homework, I aced all the quizzes (shame they weren't graded).
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
Great class.  It was challenging, but I learned a lot. Don't kept the math scare you!
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Sérgio Cordeiro profile image
Sérgio Cordeiro profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
A great course by a brilliant teacher. Professor Brown provided a coverage of all relevant aspects in contemporary planetary research. The learner is faced to not only Physical concepts but also to Chemistry-, Geology- and Biology- related ones and this makes the course challenging. The Math is kept at only a high-school level though. Professor Brown also did a good job in presenting the essential history of important discoveries, the questions that the scientists are posing now and what the future could reveal. Calendar time was well managed. Grading structure was OK, with no peer assignments or similar annoyances. Both embedded quizzes and homework were well tailored and insightful. I recommend this course to everyone with an interest in learning what is the current understanding about our planetary system.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
Have completed several courses in AstroPhysics before this one. SciSolSys was, well presented course with some 'tongue twisting problems for the quizzies' pretty easy if you reviewed the lectures and notes to achieve a certificate. It was harder and more indepth than some courses, could have been some more Math
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Colleen McAllister profile image
Colleen McAllister profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
This is a great course, but not for the mathematically challenged. Unlike many free courses, this is at the level of any college course offered. Mike Brown is an engaging teacher, knowledgeable and excited about the subject. I thought I was quite knowledgeable myself until I took this course. The main thing I learned was what I did not know. I intend to retake this course when next offered. Highly recommended.
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David Frankis profile image
David Frankis profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
This is an excellent course. It provides an overview of planetary science, on a thematic basis. By looking at the history of water on Mars, the interiors of giant planets, the small bodies of the solar system, and the search for life, Prof Mike Brown covers a very wide and diverse array of issues. He supports factual information with the underlying maths and physics, in a way that makes the course meaty and stimulating for the advanced learner while keeping it accessible for the beginner and the math-averse. The course doubled as one of the modules for Caltech students, and MOOC students were able to try the Caltech homework (not trying it didn't affect course credit) as well as follow a blog by the Caltech students. Prof Brown and the Caltech TAs engaged with MOOC students in the forum, further enriching the experience. Highly recommended.
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Trudy Fraas profile image
Trudy Fraas profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I have not focused on math and science since high school. This course reminded me how much I loved science. This course is entirely fascinating even without a strong technical background. The professor is engaging. I cannot recommend this course too highly. I did not do the homework but may take this again next year and make a greater time commitment.
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P. Lin profile image
P. Lin profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
This is a great course for getting a solid treatment of the subject of solar system physics that is not watered down as most MOOCs are. Prof. Brown is a well-known leader in the field who discovered a number of dwarf planets including Eris, which resulted in the demotion of Pluto from its previous planet status, and his enthusiasm in the subject is infectious. Be prepared to work hard if you intend to complete the assignments and exam. For me it took about 8 hours a week but it was well worth the time and very enjoyable.
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Daniel Danciu profile image
Daniel Danciu profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I guess nobody is surprised to find that this CalTech course is rated 5 stars. The information in the course is well-presented, fairly easy to follow and the enthusiasm of Prof. Brown makes the course very engaging. I feel like I have a decent understanding now of how the solar system formed, how it works, what the structure and properties of the other planets (particularly Mars and Jupiter) are.
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Max Weiner profile image
Max Weiner profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I have a strong math and science background, so probably previous learned stuff helped. I learned a lot, it was a GREAT course. What's great is you can make it what you want. If you want to dig in more there are all sorts of articles posted as well as harder problems. When discussing new ideas about the subject the professor cites original scientific papers (as well as illustrating key data sets) giving one the gist of how science works.
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ed profile image
ed profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 2 reviews
  • 0 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I have taken two other MOOC courses on planets, from Princeton and Edinburgh. Both were good, but not in the same league with Mike Brown's course. Brown's course excels in explaining both what planetary scientists have learned and how they learned it. The technical level is modest, but appropriate for college students with some experience in science and math, though even students without calculus and physics should be able to understand most of the content. This is one of the very best courses I have taken in any format. I am essentially auditing the course, since I started late and didn't catch up on the lectures soon enough to take most of the exams.
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sergio martínez profile image
sergio martínez profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
excellent course this is a very good course related to astronomy and in particular with the solar system. the development of the class is quite entertaining and there supplementary material available that helps the understanding of the course. is highly recommended to take this course for those who are interested in this exciting topic.
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JeanLuc P profile image
JeanLuc P profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I discovered this course well after it had started, but really enjoyed it and so I enjoyed catching up. Dr. Mike Brown does an excellent job at explaining course concepts, and is charismatic and even entertaining in his lectures as well. I would strongly recommend this course. My only suggestion would be a more mathematical approach, but I understand that many people wish to learn these things without it.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

9/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 10 months ago
Offered online through the Coursera website. Lots of good detailed information. Material does occasionally require some advanced math and basic understanding of chemistry, biology and geology. Lots of material presented clearly and at a good pace. Lectures were very well laid out. Overall a great experience.
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Philipp Salzgeber profile image
Philipp Salzgeber profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I have some university education on the topic, but this has been a long time ago so I reall enjoyed learning so much new stuff about the solar system. Highly recommended for anyone interested in astronomy.
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Student profile image

Student

8/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 10 months ago
Amateur astronomy enthusiast, enjoys space science. Really loved the course, recommended. Science level surprisingly high, and there's a lot of material to cover. Main lecturer is excellent, guest lecturers a bit uneven.
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Clinton Leaker profile image
Clinton Leaker profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Outstanding course. It is peppered with a little bit of math, but not much (except for week 4 only). The math is primarily elementary algebra, so don't be intimidated. The course showers you with lots of interesting information, as well as, beautiful photos. The professor is not boring in the least bit. It is a very good course for those who have a curiosity in Astronomy but lack the background/history in astronomical studies.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
Mike Brown is terrific. Complex material, but Mike tried to bring much of it down to earth, so to speak. I have had a life long layman's interest in cosmology and this course has been very helpful in connecting what were isolated 'dots' of knowledge. Mike talks really fast. Some of the material is complex with too much detail to retain my interest. However, I understand there is a wide audience here with varying degrees in background. All in all a great job. I really enjoyed the program. THANK YOU!!
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
This was a really great course. I did not take the course for college credit. There were some lectures that were a little (okay, a lot) over my head, but the instructor gave fair warning when the math/physics were going to get serious. And he still made the content interesting and relevant. Most of the lectures were not math/physics heavy and were presented in an easy-to- understand manner.
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João Romário profile image
João Romário profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I teach astronomy for kids and teenagers, having completed a postgraduate course and lots of short courses on astronomy. This course was the sixth one related to the subject I took on Coursera and I must say it was the best one, head to head with Duke University's "Introduction to Astronomy", by Ronen Plesser. Professor Brown knows how to stimulate curiosity, challenging our intelligence and offering us relevant data and discussions. Highly recommended!
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Marlena Siwiak profile image
Marlena Siwiak profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Apart from "Introduction to Astronomy" by Duke University and "Calculus: Single Variable", one of the best Coursera courses I took so far (out of a dozen). Contains: \- Entertaining lectures with a lot of new and interesting information (not covered in any astronomy courses on Coursera I took so far), plus details on how the stuff was discovered, so one could decide his own how credible the hypotheses are. \- The right level of details for a person like me i.e. unprofessional enthusiast. \- Information presented in a well- organized, accessible fashion. \- Homeworks not too easy, with emphasis on rational thinking rather than learning formulas by heart. \- Excellent lecturer with good sense of humor. Highly recommended!
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  • 5 stars
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  • 3 stars
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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.