Astrophysics for beginners - an online course

Want to know your black holes from your Big Bang? Learn the basics of astrophysics with an award-winning astronomy author & experienced tutor

Your jargon and maths free introduction to astrophysics

This online beginners course is the perfect way to discover the wonders of our universe and all the mysteries we’re yet to unravel. All explained in simple, everyday language with no maths or complex jargon.

You’ll start close to home and venture ever further out until you reach the very edge of the observable universe. Your journey will take in black holes, dark matter, alien planets, other universes and more.

What have previous students said?

"Totally engrossing"

"You certainly have a knack of explaining really complex things in an accessible and understandable way!"

"Really well thought out and crystal clear. It’s a truly exhilarating series of classes!"

"Colin is an amazing teacher - fabulous visual aids and he explains everything so clearly"

What will I learn?

The Sun - part of Astrophysics for Beginners online course

Part 1 – The Solar System

Key topic: solar physics, planetary science and solar system formation

Discover the inner workings of the Sun and the immense power of space weather. You’ll also find out where the solar system came from, why it looks the way it does, and where it ends and the rest of space begins.

[image: a coronal mass ejection from the Sun (NASA/SDO)

The Crab Nebula - part of Astrophysics for Beginners online course

Part 2 – Our Local Galactic Neighbourhood

Key topics: exoplanets & life cycle of stars

Explore the night sky, tour the nearest star factory to Earth and learn about cataclysmic supernovas. Plus discover the thousands of planets beyond our solar system and whether any of them could be home to life.

[image: the Crab Nebula as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope]

The Milky Way - part of Astrophysics for Beginners online course

Part 3 – The Milky Way

Key topics: black holes, dark matter & SETI

How big is our city of stars? How many inhabitants does it have? We’ll investigate the Milky Way’s size, age and shape as well as the super-massive black hole that lurks at its heart. There is also chance to discuss the dark matter that continues to puzzle astronomers.

[image: artist’s impression of the Milky Way – NASA]

Colliding galaxies - part of Astrophysics for Beginners online course

Part 4 – The Local Group 

Key topic: measuring cosmic distances

Our Milky Way has neighbours of its own including the Andromeda galaxy. Look ahead to its future collision with our galaxy, as well as the bigger structure of this part of the universe. We’ll also look at how we measure distances across the vast chasm of space.

[image: colliding galaxies courtesy of NASA]


The Cosmic Microwave Background - part of Astrophysics for Beginners online course

Part 5 – The Universe

Key topics: the Big Bang, the multiverse, dark energy

The Big Bang, the formation of the first stars and galaxies and dark energy are all covered. We’ll even contemplate the possibility of other universes and other versions of you.

[image: the Cosmic Microwave Background – WMAP]

About me


I’m a multi-award-winning astronomy author and speaker. My nineteen books have sold more than 400,000 copies worldwide and been translated into 21 languages. Plus I’ve written over 200 popular science articles for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist, The Wall Street Journal and BBC Science Focus. I also write the monthly Absolute Beginners column for Astronomy Now magazine.

As well as writing a book with the astronaut Tim Peake, I’ve won The Margaret Mallett Award for Children’s Non-Fiction and the AAS Solar Physics Popular Media award. A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, I’ve appeared on BBC News, Sky News and Radio 5Live. I’m also lucky enough to have had the asteroid (15347) Colinstuart named after me.

When is the next course?

I’m busy changing this from a course based on live webinars to an on-demand course that you can access anytime and work through at your own pace. It should be ready to go later this summer.

Want to be the first to hear when it goes live and receive a 10% discount? Just fill out the form below.

Next Astrophysics Course

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