5 Sources for Free Astronomy Education Online

Free online courses in astronomy are offered by real schools. Learn which astronomy courses are available, what topics they cover and which ones lead to real college credit.

Free Online Course Info

Free online courses in astronomy are generally available as non-credit options. These courses don't require registration, and students can learn through audio and video lectures, text lectures, podcasts and downloads. Some of these courses include lecture notes or exams.

Extrasolar Planets: Physics and Detection Techniques at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This undergraduate-level course focuses on the fundamentals of planetary atmospheres and interiors as they relate to extrasolar planets. Students can view selected lecture notes, which are available as PDFs. Some assignments can also be accessed.

Hands-On Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This undergraduate course was originally offered in 2002, and students can learn about telescopes, visual observation techniques and electronic imaging. Lecture notes are available and include observing tips, optics information and color imaging.

Solar System Audio Podcasts at NASA

NASA offers audio podcasts that are available on iTunes and on NASA's website. There are also video podcasts available for viewing. Subjects include wind and radiation on Mars, lunar reconnaissance and the Martian atmosphere. Users can also subscribe to podcasts if they wish.

Universe Audio Podcasts at NASA

Subjects of these podcasts from NASA include asteroid studies, space telescopes and NASA missions. There are also video podcasts about high energy x-rays, black holes and the search for a high-energy universe.

Galaxies, Stars and Planets at The Open University

This 8-hour course unit is a series of lectures covering the scale of the universe, objects that can be found in the universe and planet sizes. The unit ends with questions that students can use to test their knowledge of the subjects covered, in addition to an answer key.

Astronomy at University of California - Berkeley

This non-credit course was originally offered in fall of 2011 and can be viewed online or downloaded. It includes several of the course's original 29 lectures that last about one hour each. The course focuses on modern astronomy, the galaxy, the universe and the evolution of the stars.

Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics at Yale University

This course focuses on extrasolar planets, black holes and dark energy. Students can view lectures or download lecture transcripts and access class notes in PDF format. Lecture topics include planetary orbits, tests of relativity and Hubble's Law. In this free course, students can download one of the exams and view answers for both exams included in the original course.

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