An introduction to astronomy

Ref: C2337182

This course will take you on a journey starting with the Earth and explaining the essential building blocks needed for life to exist. Next you will explore the solar system and the Milky Way, moving on to look at the observable universe and current views about what the universe is made of. Einstein's theory of relativity and the Big Bang will also be part of our study. You will learn about the night sky and how to make sense of it as well common types of telescopes, and may have the chance to use a special telescope to look at the Sun. It may also be possible to visit a local observatory subject to availability.

Course aim

To provide you with a broad, introductory understanding of astronomy and the universe.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The course will cover the following topics: Naked eye astronomy; astronomy and solar astronomy through a telescope; common objects in space including nebulae, star clusters and galaxies; famous astronomers; types of galaxies; measurements of distances in space; the birth, life and death of the universe

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. describe the building blocks needed for life 2. find their way around the night sky through learning about constellations and how to find different stars using simple techniques 3. understand the the universe as seen by modern scientists 4. demonstrate how to use a telescope 5. identify the measurements of space - the Astronomical Unit, the Light Year and the Parsec.

How will I know I'm making progress?

There will be various quizzes and assignments throughout the course to assess your learning as well as plenty of opportunity for questions and discussions

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

Please bring a notebook and pen along with a folder to keep course handouts in.

Reading and information sources

None. The tutor will suggest texts, books, journals and websites as appropriate as the course progresses

What could the course lead to?

Hopefully this course will lead you on to at least begin to know your way around the night sky using the most easily identifiable stars and constellations. Perhaps you will become an enthusiast and join a local astronomy club and ultimately own a telescope so that you can enjoy this amazing hobby.

Download full course outline

An introduction to astronomy Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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