Wednesday, September 2, 2009

10 Places to Get a Free Astronomy Education Online

Old Shanghai Observatory Star Theater

Something special and new for you this this time round. Karen Schweitzer will be doing a guest post. Karen is the guide to Business School. Karen also writes reviews of Online Colleges for There is some great stuff here, I have reviewed all the links Karen has provided and have actually printed some of the study materials down to read and incorporate in future posts, take it away Karen.

Whether you are a beginning astronomer or a professional who is interested in learning more about a specific topic, there are plenty of places to get a free astronomy education online. Here are ten courses, podcasts, encyclopedias, and other education resources to explore:

Introduction to Astronomy- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers this free course to introduce self-learners to astronomy. The course includes readings, study materials, assignments, and quizzes with an answer key.

Elementary Astronomy- This free online course from the College of Eastern Utah focuses on the formation and existence of the sun, moon, planets, stars, and comets. The course includes 38 pages of informative handouts with illustrations.

Astronomy 101- The Guide to Astronomy offers this free online course to self-learners who are interested in learning the basics of astronomy. The 10-lesson course includes an assignment, links to more in-depth information, a final quiz, and forums where students can ask questions. A certificate is awarded to those who finish the course.

Hands-On Astronomy- This free online astronomy course from MIT focuses on observing stars and planets. The course teaches students how to use small telescopes with lecture notes and other self-study materials.

Old Shanghai Observatory Star Theater

The Solar System- This free online course, also from MIT, provides an introduction to the solar system. Students learn about the formation and life of the solar system through assignments, fact sheets, and other course materials.

Essential Radio Astronomy- This advanced-level astronomy course was designed for students who already have some knowledge of astronomy. The text-based course includes problems sets and exams with solutions.

Weekly Astronomy Podcast- Astronomy magazine's free weekly podcast is an excellent educational resource for astronomy enthusiasts. Episodes include astronomy news, information on upcoming sky events, and much more.

Astronomy Network- The Astronomy Network is a social network for astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts. The site is a great place to learn more about astronomy online through discussions, blog posts, and videos.

World Of Astronomy- World of Astronomy is a comprehensive online encyclopedia of astronomy topics. Visitors can learn more about galactic astronomy, observational astronomy, the solar system, stars, and much more.

Ask An Astronomer- Volunteers at Cornell University's Astronomy Department offer this free public service to people around the world who are interested in astronomy. You can browse previously asked questions or submit your own question to be answered by one of the graduate students at Cornell.

Thank you Karen, with all the information out there it's nice to have an expert do the research on where to get stuff. I'll leave you now with an animation of the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an China, built in 652 it was used to hold sutras and figurines that were brought back from India by Xuanzang


Dr. Lauren said...

Those are great resources for students or anyone just interested in learning more about the universe. Thanks Bob

Stephanie B said...

Cool. Thank you!

Cashmere said...

Thanks for sharing Bob! Will be useful for newbies and clueless people like me.. ;D

Tammy said...

I'm going to have to show this to my 15 year old daughter. She's very interested in astronomy. Thank you for the info! :o)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Dr. Lauren, right, a good combination of beginner and advanced courses, Karen did a great job.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

No problem Stephanie.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Cashmere, for sure, one stop astronomy info shopping for newbies.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

That's cool Tammy, I'm sure she'll get a lot out of them, thanks for stopping by.\m/\m/

kRiZ cPEc said...

thanks for the list and the animation Bob.

Anne Vis said...

Thanks for the info, Bob! I just signed up for another astrology class, so it would be great to also know more about the astronomy behind it ... :-)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Karen. When I start studying I'll come back for these links. :)

Beautiful animation, Bob.

Mike said...

Wow, thanks Karen and Bob for a great post with lots of interesting courses. I just ordered my Galileoscope (in conjunction with my employer's up coming Customer Service week event, which is themed to Astronomy and Space). The scope would be a good candidate for use with the MIT Hands on Astronomy course - build the scope and then have some fun observing.

Bob Johnson said...

Thank you for dropping by kRiZ.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anne, good timing for you, good luck with your class.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Ruth.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Mike, Karen did a great job with the links, there is even a guide on how to use telescopes, perfect for you Galileoscope.\m/\m/

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Bob this is just wonderful. You truly are a teacher and have so many talents and gifts to share.

I know I say it every time I come here but you never cease to amaze me, teach me, and intrigue with beauty!

I had some real technical issues going on for a while with my PC and my blog and apologize for being away for so long!

I hope I am finally back in my correct orbit!

Thank you for this wonderful share and gift of information!!

FishHawk said...

Which school would be the best one for me to go to so that I will not miss when the stars are aligned for me to become rich and famous (not to mention really, really good looking)?

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Jackie, thanks alot, but Karen was the one who approached me with the idea, hey but I said great idea,lol. Glad you're back in your correct orbit, thanks for dropping by and have a great week.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

lol FishHawk, good question, let me look into it for you,and me,lol.\m/\m/

Susanne49 said...

The first photo is spectacular, Bob!!!!

We stopped traveling one week ago and are settled down now in Melbourne FL. I will have time again to visit your blog more often and on a regular base :)

betchai said...

wow, you have provided a lot great deal of information for resources, and again, love your stunning animation.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Susanne,you folks had quite the adventure, lots of great images and stories were told.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks betchai, hope you can use some of the resources Karen provided.\m/\m/

Astro-Nuts said...

Thanks Bob and Karen for great info. Of course, people can always keep visiting Bob's blog and others (like mine) to learn different things too. I am still in learning mode when it comes to astronomy.

Actually, I would dare say that any astronomer on the planet is still learning. Or rather, should be. Anyway, shameless plug for myself and Bob, but the rest of the links are really good.

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Colin, always room for growth no matter what field you are interested in.

Swubird said...


Wow, what a great post. I took astronomy way back when I was in college. It was a great course. My instructor was a radio astronomer. I forget his name now, but about ten years after he was my instructor I saw him on a PBS special. I couldn't believe it.

Super post. Well done.

Happy trails.

PJ said...

wow, great informational guest post bob, thank you. and i also want to thank karen for providing us with this information!

have a great day!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, cool, I remember you telling me about seeing your instructor on TV.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks PJ, yes Karen did a great job, some great links.\m/\m/

AngelBaby said...

Wow, this is great. I just want you to know that I showed your site to my grandchildren and they loved it. I will have to send them some of these links. Thanks for sharing this.

Have a wonderful day!

Love and Blessings,

Anonymous said...

Wonderful there is so much to review there has to be something for every type of future astronomer...

Dorothy from grammology

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks AngelBaby, I'm sure the grandkids will enjoy, have a great weekend.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Dorothy, yes Karen did a great job, perfect for future astronomers.\m/\m/

notedscholar said...

I realize you had to stop at 10, but I would add as a useful self-teaching resource Dr. Chiu's webpage on outer space:


Bob Johnson said...

Lol NS, I especially love the how to build a UFO part.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Great post, Bob. I'll have to check some of these free courses out.

Lovely photos too!!! You always get my looking to the skies. :D

Hugs, Jj

Barbara Rae said...

I love your blog. Simply fascinating.
I tried to contact you via your e-mail and it came back to me. You have 48 hrs to contact me. I chose you as a winner for the "Earth" DVD!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey JJ, thanks a lot, that is the whole idea, get people looking at the sky to see it beauty.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Woo Hoo, that's great news Babara Rae, I will contact you, glad you like my blog too.\m/\m/

Max Coutinho said...

Hey Bob,

First, I'd like to thank Karen for having offered us such a great list (I am much interested in the MIT's online course, and so I will check it out).

Second, I'd like to thank you for such a fantastic post, Bob! I like the way your structured it (mixing the photos from Shangai Star observatory)...thanks for this delight :D!

The greater Pagoda is beautiful!!
Do you know what I like most about Asians (apart from their Zen philosophy, of course)? Their gardens. They have gorgeous gardens (dear Lord)!

I'm off to check that link then...

Have a superb week ahead, my friend!


Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks Max, Karen did a great job, both MIT courses I'm looking at now. I thought the Observatory images fit nicely, a good example of the average new person to astronomy learning, lots of questions were asked that day.

Totally agree with you about the gardens, they have the best, so original and beautiful.

Their eastern religions, very interesting, every temple I visited I got images of them praying to all different types of Buddhas, and the incense, I even got to take some home from the Jade Temple, the home of the famous jade reclining Buddha, saw monks in training with their orange outfits, very , very interesting, and how Buddhism came from India 2,000 years ago and how it fit nicely with their Taoism.\m/\m/

Anna said...

Hey Bob I like your different post, and you know what's good about it, I don't have to bookmark any of them, I will just bookmark your post. And now let me go and check it out....Good night! Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Anna, thanks for the bookmark and have a good night.\m/\m/

Max Coutinho said...


I can't live without incense lol. You will love that incense that you brought - trust me.

Did you know that I was once (upon a time) a Buddhist? I was one for a while, but then I quit because I couldn't live without praising God and serving Him (and, as you know, Buddhism rejects the idea of an intervening God).

I love hearing you talking about the stuff you learned there :D!


Marvin the Martian said...

Dude, your blog is the ONLY place we need.

Priyank said...

The list is good, but there is only one place I get my education and current news from: You. ;-)

Lynda Lehmann said...

Excellent list of resources, Bob! I'll have to print it up for future reference and try to remember where I saved it, lol....

I love the pagoda GIF!

I hope everything is going great for you. I think of you when I see the night sky, although I have'nt been able to use my scope yet, as we have just moved in and are still overwhelmed with projects.

Slept in moonlight for a whole week, as so much comes in the sliding glass door upstairs! It was awesome and stunning!

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