Astronomy and Space Course  (illustrated throughout).


Each module comes with full tutoring and a certificate on completion. 


1.   Getting Started.

Seeing the sky with the naked eye.
Planispheres and charts.
How to go about observing.
Overview of binoculars and telescopes.
Identifying familiar objects in the sky.
Brief overview of the rest of the course.
Recommended websites.
Recommended TV programmes.
Recommended reading:  books and magazines.
Societies and observatories.
Question and answer session.


2.   Constellations.

How to recognise them.
Who devised them?
Changes with time.
Names of the stars.
Star magnitudes and spectral types.
The sky through the year:  star patterns, star names, the Ecliptic and the Zodiac.
Some background stories.
Compass points in the sky – the celestial sphere.
Going abroad – the sky in Turkey, the USA, the Southern sky.


3.  Ancient Astronomy 

Astronomy in prehistory.
The celestial sphere, movements of Sun and Moon  (recap).
Pyramids and standing stones.
The 20th century Sighthill stone circle.


4.   The Moon.

Origin of the Moon.
The motions of the Moon.
Lunar phases.
The face of the Moon.
Eclipses, star and planet occultations.
Lunar probes.

5.  Man on the Moon.

Before Apollo.
The Apollo programme.
The Moon landings.
What we’ve found out.
The future – exploration and development.


6.  The Sun and the Earth.

The visible changes:  the day, the week, the month, the seasons, the year.
Atmospheric refraction.
The calendar.
Interactions with the Earth:  the tides, the ozone layer, aurora, noctilucent clouds, the green flash, sun-dogs etc..
The Earth from space.
Profile of the Sun – face and interior.
Safe observing.
Solar cycle.
The photosphere, chromosphere and corona.
Solar flares.
Probes to the Sun.


7.  Mercury.

Observing the planets.
Profile of Mercury.
Orbit and rotation.
Surface conditions.
Internal structure.
Missions to Mercury – past and future.


8.  Venus.

Profile of Venus.
Orbit and rotation.
Atmosphere of Venus.
Surface conditions.
Internal structure.
Missions to Venus – past and future.


9.  The Earth as a Planet.

The origin of the Earth.
Earth’s orbit and rotation.
Plate tectonics and continental drift.
The Earth from space.
The land.
The atmosphere.
The oceans.
Life on Earth.


10.  Mars and its Moons.

Profile of Mars.
Orbit and rotation.
Atmosphere of Mars.
Surface conditions.
Internal structure.
Moons of Mars.
Missions to Mars and its moons.


11.  Manned Mars Missions.

History of proposed Mars missions.
Current proposals for Mars missions.
Human settlement.


12.  Asteroids and Meteorites.

Profiles - the Asteroid Belt and Near Earth Objects.
Impacts on Earth.
Missions to the asteroids  (manned and unmanned);  protecting the Earth.


13.  Jupiter and its Moons.

Profiles:  Jupiter and its moons.
Orbits and rotations.
Atmosphere and visible surface.
Internal structure.
The major moons.
Missions to the Jupiter system.


14.  Saturn and its Moons.

Profiles:  Saturn and its moons.
Orbits and rotations.
Atmosphere and visible surface.
Internal structure.
The major moons.
Missions to the Saturn system.


15.  Uranus, Neptune and their Moons.

Profiles:  Uranus, Neptune and moons.
Orbits and rotations.
Atmosphere and visible surface.
Internal structure.
The major moons.
Voyager mission to the Uranus and Neptune systems.


16.  Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

Where is the Kuiper Belt?
How it was discovered.
Why is it out there? – Its origins.
Kuiper Belt objects.
Probes through the Kuiper Belt.


17.  Comets and Meteors.

Comets in history and now.
Meteor showers.
Missions to the comets  (manned and unmanned);  protecting the Earth from impacts.


18.  The Milky Way.

The structure of the Galaxy.
Star clusters.
Talking about the neighbours:  the Local Group of galaxies.
The future of the Galaxy.


19.  Nebulae and Stars.

Types and populations of stars.
Births, lives and deaths of stars.
Planets of other stars.
The search for life elsewhere.


20.  Galaxies.

Types of galaxies  (with hand-out).
Beyond the Local Group.
Origin and evolution of the Universe.


21.  Cosmology

Models of the Universe:  Big Bang, Steady State, Oscillating Universe, how the big bang became accepted.
Large-scale structure of the Universe.
The earliest stars and galaxies;  the rôle of dark matter.
Evolution of galactic clusters and galaxies.
Dark energy and the long-term future.


22.  Planets of Other Stars.

Early theories and searches.
Advancing discovery:  the IRAS satellite and protoplanetary discs, the new detection methods, the Kepler survey and others – over 1000 exoplanets now discovered.
The search for earthlike worlds.


23.  The Search for Life in Space.

Life in the Solar system.
The discovery of other solar systems.
The origin of life.
Detecting life in other solar systems.
The Drake equation and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.


24.  History of Spaceflight.

Rocket launchers.
Artificial satellites.
Russian and American spaceflight.
Space stations.


25.  The UK in Space.

Early theories.
The first British space programme – Black Knight, Blue Streak, Black Arrow.
Britain’s participation in space exploration.
Britain’s participation in space applications.
The first British astronauts.


26.  Man and the Planets.

Settlements in space.
The resources of the Solar System.
Space and human survival.


27.  Man and the Stars.

Interstellar travel.
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence and technology.
Our future in the Galaxy.


28.  Science Fiction.

Science and science fiction.
Science fiction spaceships.
The future of spaceflight.
Extraterrestrials and other intelligences.


For further information or to book modules please contact me via the feedback tab.




copyrighted by Duncan Lunan 2013

sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement