About this Course
"How do they know that?" Modern astronomy has made some astonishing discoveries - how stars burn and how black holes form; galaxies from the edge of the universe and killer rocks right next door; where the elements come from and how the expanding universe is accelerating. But how do we know all that? The truth is that astronomy would be impossible without technology, and every advance in astronomy is really an advance in technology. But the technology by itself is not enough. We have to apply it critically with a knowledge of physics to unlock the secrets of the Universe. Each week we will cover a different aspect of Astronomical technology, matching each piece of technology to a highlight science result. We will explain how the technology works, how it has allowed us to collect astronomical data, and, with some basic physics, how we interpret the data to make scientific discoveries. The class will consist of video lectures, weekly quizzes, and discussion forums. Each week there will be five videos, totalling approximately 40 minutes. They will be in a regular pattern - a short introduction, an example science story, an explanation of the key technology area, a look at how the technology is used in practice, and finally a look at what the future may hold.
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 8 hours to complete

Suggested: Six weeks of study, requiring roughly 2 hours per week.
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English
Globe

100% online course

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 8 hours to complete

Suggested: Six weeks of study, requiring roughly 2 hours per week.
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Science and Technology

Introducing the themes of the course, and a first look at the science and technology we will study....
Reading
4 videos (Total 30 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video4 videos
W1 Part 2 - Revolutions in Astronomy11m
W1 Part 3 - Why Astronomy is Hard11m
W1 Part 4 - The Horse and Cart3m
Reading2 readings
Welcome to Week 10m
Additional Information for Week 10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 1 quiz20m

2

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Telescopes and Stars

How telescopes work, how we use them to make images in different colours, and how we use those measurements to understand how stars work. ...
Reading
5 videos (Total 29 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video5 videos
W2 Part 2 - The Sun - is every star like it?2m
W2 Part 3 - How Telescopes Work13m
W2 Part 4 - We are Stardust7m
W2 Part 5 - Even Bigger Telescopes?1m
Reading2 readings
Welcome to Week 20m
Additional Information for Week 20m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 2 quiz20m

3

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Space and Black Holes

Hunting for black holes, and why we need to get above the atmosphere to do it....
Reading
6 videos (Total 33 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
W3 Part 2 - Hunting for Black Holes2m
W3 Part 3 - Rockets, Spacecraft, and Orbits13m
W3 Part 4 - Hunting for Black Holes Part II8m
W3 Part 5 - Can Space Missions get Cheaper?1m
W3 Bonus video - A Sense of Scale2m
Reading3 readings
Welcome to Week 30m
Geostationary Orbits10m
Additional Information for Week 30m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 3 quiz20m

4

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Detectors and the First Galaxies

Detectors, how they work, and how we use them to catch the light from the very first galaxies. ...
Reading
6 videos (Total 39 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
W4 Part 2 - Galaxies since the Dawn of Time4m
W4 Part 3a - Light, Matter, and CCDs15m
W4 Part 3b - Infrared Detectors5m
W4 Part 4 - Galaxies since the Dawn of Time Part II7m
W4 Part 5 - Another Revolution in Detector Technology? 1m
Reading2 readings
Welcome to Week 40m
Additional Information for Week 40m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 4 quiz20m

5

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Computers and Killer Rocks

Why computers are crucial in astronomy, and how they are used to find rare objects....
Reading
5 videos (Total 41 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video5 videos
W5 Part 2 - Killer Rocks2m
W5 Part 3 - Computers, Databases, and the Internet16m
W5 Part 4 - Killer Rocks Part II10m
W5 Part 5 - Hitting the Buffers?2m
Reading3 readings
Welcome to Week 510m
Big numbers: Megaparsecs, Petabytes, and all that Jazz10m
Additional Information for Week 510m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 5 quiz20m

6

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Spectroscopy and Dark Energy

How to break up light into its component parts, how that allows us to do astrophysics, and why we believe the Universe is full of a mysterious dark energy....
Reading
5 videos (Total 38 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video5 videos
W6 P2 - The Accelerating Universe and Dark Energy6m
W6 P3 - How Spectrographs Work13m
W6 P4 - Dark Energy Part II8m
W6 P5 - A Perfect Spectrograph? 1m
Reading2 readings
Welcome to Week-60m
Additional Information for Week 60m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 6 quiz20m
4.7
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33%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By ABJul 11th 2017

Explanations are clear and insightful. The concepts discussed are far from simple, but they are exposed in a very natural way. An extended, deeper version or a follow up course would be nice!

By ASJul 10th 2017

Excellent Course!! Amazing Teachers!! You can learn a lot of fundamentals if you are new to the field.Highly recommended for people for starting who just getting into astronomy.

About The University of Edinburgh

Influencing the world since 1583, The University of Edinburgh is consistently ranked as one of the world's top 50 universities. Today, we are an established and global leader in online learning, providing degree-level education to 3,000 online students in addition to 36,000 students on-campus. We also offer a wide range of free online courses in a variety of subjects. To find out more about studying for one of our online degrees, search for ‘Edinburgh online’ or visit www.ed.ac.uk ...

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