Online Astronomy

This is not a new idea and I have certainly written about a lot of online Astronomy resources and activities in the past and the best ones are listed on the Resources page. But I just wanted to take the time to let you know of some new resources that have popped up or some old ones I have just discovered. As always, if you have any I have missed, please let me know about them, as I would love to share these fabulous resources with everyone.

Firstly a reminder that the asteroid is passing by us tonight and if you want to see it live head to Ustream at Clay Centre Observatory at 10am Sat (Melbourne time)

Frustrated that you have to wait for a clear night or even night-time before you can do some real astronomy, as well as the Zooniverse site, Hubble now has it’s own Citizen Science site where you can help analyze real Astronomy data. You just need a computer, the internet and some time. I get a story almost weekly about a citizen having made a discovery, this could be you!

World Science Day (March 7) is coming up and as a part of that the IntoScience group are offering free access to their site to test your skill and knowledge of science. The competition is held over 5-7th March and you can register for free here. There will also be prizes!!!

I spent a little bit of time hunting around for apps over the summer and here is a list of those I can highly recommend;

  • Phases of the Moon App
  • NASA App
  • Cosmic Universe App created by Institute for Computational Cosmology
  • NOVA Elements App (Chemistry but way cool)

NASA also released two free e-Books over Christmas about the Hubble telescope and the new James Webb telescope which are sensational. Amazing resource and lovely to look at – makes me think we are going to miss coffee table books in the future, but I have heard of coffee tables with touch screens in them – maybe coffee table books won’t become extinct after all…(enough philosophy)

Some very cool and educational interactive sites for looking at astronomy (and Science) simulations I came across during my studies over the summer (more about that in a moment). These are also on the Resources page. PhET and NAAP Labs. Explore as there is much more than just these pages.

Not so much online, but plenty of multimedia – the Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize is now open for 2013. Do hop online and see what the past winners and notables have done – great Science Club project as well.

So, what did I get up to over the summer? I spent quite a bit of time exploring and learning about our Universe. From how to find things in the night sky to the evolution of our solar system, from the structure and life cycle of stars to cosmology. There was plenty of Newtonian and Keplarian Physics as well as a week on Relativity (Special and General).

Why? How?

This was a Coursera MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) presented by the wonderful Prof Ronen Plesser and assisted by Justin Johanssen at Duke University. I was one of 3000 people that watched all the lectures and one of 2100 students that passed the course. Not only did I learn a lot more about astronomy and astrophysics at a very rigorous level I was also able to follow and join in the journey of many of my fellow students through the discussion forums. At no point did I feel on the other side of the world from everyone, they were virtually sitting around my table sharing ideas every time I sat down to do my homework.

Nuts and bolts.

Course Name: Introduction to Astronomy

Length: 9 weeks (including a week off for Christmas)

Assessment: 16 Homework assignments (three weeks to complete each assignment, two assignments per week)

Committed time: 8-10 hours per week including watching videos and completing homework

cert_small copy

My Certificate of Completion!

Final word(s): Challenging, engaging, all-encompasing, free, satisfying, community. Not for the faint-hearted, but well worth the journey if you wish to take your astronomy beyond high school science.

Is there more? Professor Plesser will be offering the course again later in the year, our own Professor Rachel Webster will be part of a group offering a Coursera Course on Climate Change in August if you can’t wait that long.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s