Astronomy Courses Online

Category: Astronomy

Humans have gazed in wonder at the heavens since prehistoric times. The complex yet regular movements of stars and planets beg for explanation. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, and today would-be stargazers can find many excellent astronomy courses and information sources online.

The Best Online Astronomy Courses

The study of our solar system, as well as the stars and other wonders that lie beyond our sun, is a subject that appeals to all ages. Here are some of best online astronomy courses, for elementary, high school, college and graduate students.

NASA, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has many astronomy classroom materials for teachers, and short introductory courses for students of every grade level. NASA's site features streaming video, podcasts, spectacular photo galleries, and news about current missions.

The Kids Online Astronomy Academy offers two free courses for students aged 7-11 and 12-18. Each course consists of downloadable packets of study materials. It's recommended that students complete one packet per week, but the courses are entirely self-paced. Students complete a final project and take a test to earn a certificate of completion.
Astronomy Courses Online has a free, ten-week intro to astronomy course. The course is text-based, with links to many other valuable resources. There is also a community forum where students can ask and answer questions about astronomy.

Online University Courses in Astronomy

MIT offers three free astronomy courses as part of the Open CourseWare initiative. Introduction to Astronomy ( gives you an introduction to the solar system, stars, our galaxy, and the universe. Follow-up courses such as "The Solar System" and "Hands-On Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets" are also available. Course materials can be downloaded, and are available in English, Japanese, Portugese, and Spanish.

The United Kingdom's Open University offers five free astronomy courses. All of them can be downloaded and include text and graphic materials. Topics include the Sun, Moon, Comparing Stars, Telescopes and Spectrographs, and the history of astronomy's greatest discoveries.

Indiana University offers tuition-based online courses in astronomy. These correspondence courses are geared towards entry-level undergraduates. Since IU is accredited, credit for completed courses may be transferable. But like all college credits, it's up to the receiving school to determine what credits it will accept.

The Essential Radio Astronomy course is geared for astronomy graduate students. Its text is heavily laden with equations. There's also a final exam and ten sets of problems to test students' learning throughout the course. This course was created by the National Radio Astronomy Laboratory.

Australia's Swinburne University of Technology offers a complete online postgraduate degree program in astronomy. Designed for astronomy educators, working astronomers, and advanced amateur astronomers, Swinburne Astronomy Online focuses on developing students' ability to communicate the often complex concepts they learn to others. Courses vary from six weeks to a full Masters Degree program. Fees are AUD $1400 per unit.

Whatever your level of education or interest, there is an online astronomy program for you. As astronomers are fond of saying, "the sky is not the limit."

Do you have a favorite astronomy learning website? Post your comment or question below...

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