Your jargon and maths free introduction to astrophysics
Next course: 8 February – 15 March 2022
This six week online beginners course is an excellent 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.
We’ll start close to home and venture ever further out until we reach the very edge of the observable universe. Our journey will take in black holes, dark matter, alien planets, other universes and more.
Week 1 – The Inner Solar System
Key topic: solar physics and planetary science
Exploring the Sun and the four planets that orbit closest to it. Also a chance to examine our own Moon and the two moons of Mars, as well as journeying through the asteroid belt.
[image: a coronal mass ejection from the Sun (NASA/SDO)
Week 2 – The Outer Solar System
Key topic: solar system formation
A tour of the realm of the gas giants and their moons, and a look at the demotion of Pluto to one of five dwarf planets. Plus a trip to the comets of the Oort cloud and the debate over where our solar system came from and where it ends.
[image: Pluto as seen by NASA’s New Horizons probe)
Week 3 – 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]
Week 4 – 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]
Week 5 – 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]
Week 6 – The Universe
Key topics: the Big Bang, the multiverse, dark energy
The Big Bang, the formation of the first stars and galaxies and the 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]
All sessions are recorded and the recordings are available to watch until the following week’s class
Book your tickets for next the course: 8 February – 15 March 2022
Tuesdays 19:00 – 21:00 GMT
(You can also buy tickets for individual weeks)