Astronomy: Our Place Among the Stars

Ref: C3739733

This course aims to place our planet Earth and its Sun within the context of the Spectacular Milky Way Galaxy We will also discuss the extraordinary discoveries of planets around these stars.

Additional information about this course

This course has been cancelled. Waiting for Rabena Sharif to submit AAF to cancel.

Course aim

To study the properties of stars in The Galaxy, how they were born and their evolution. Students will also be able to record the huge variety of 'suns' using robotic telescopes.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

• Introduction to the theories and history of research into Solar System formation and the recent discovery of disks around stars which contain planets • We will then discuss our knowledge of the Sun and how it affects Earth’s climate, its final fate and how its lifetime compares with other stars. • Next we look at the varying colours and brightness of stars, some within star clusters, and how this indicates their temperature, age and size. • In the light of the properties of stars we will consider implications for habitable zones where planets may support life. • Students will be shown techniques for backyard observing.

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 lifetime of our Sun, its fate and how it affects Earth’s climate. 2. Select and observe two stars to establish their properties and how their ‘lifestyle’ may differ. 3. Discuss where planets of other stars may form and the prospects for life throughout the Galaxy.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Weekly discussion and debate. Issue of recap sheets weekly with supporting discussions. Weekly mini project exercises with feedback comments from the tutor on the notes you supplied with further guidance as necessary.

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

Planisphere (for 51deg North) will be a useful purchase and experiment before the course with dialling up changes in the sky throughout the seasons. This can also be purchased within a Stargazer Pack with supporting wall maps at an approximate cost of £10 (Philips) Also if you have an astronomical app try setting the sky visible for the start of the course.

Reading and information sources

Other than experimenting with a Planisphere or Astronomical App watching TV programmes such as 'The Sky at Night' and Horizon are not essential but may be useful.

What could the course lead to?

The tutor provides up to 10 different courses on astronomy as well as one day workshops to enable you to progress to more detailed study of this fascinating subject. Free astronomical bulletins about future courses can also be e-mailed by joining the tutor's mailing list.

Download full course outline

Astronomy: Our Place Among the Stars Course Outline

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


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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