Astronomical History: From Babylonians to the Copernican Revolution

Ref: C3741504

The Sumerians and Babylonians investigated the night sky when astronomy and astrology were inextricably linked. A study of how extensive records were kept by individual countries in an effort to establish if predictions emanated from recorded events and later how science was destined to play a vital role.

Course aim

Introduce how early civilisations tracked planets and stars and attempted to establish orbits and vast distances involved. Beyond what efforts were made to understand the complexity of the constellations and their meaning.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • The course is open to everyone with the sheer enthusiasm to learn how the ancients unravelled the mysteries of the heavens

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

  • Explain how astronomy and astrology gradually parted company
  • Describe the composition of our Solar System and its link to the stars
  • Study one 'Guest Stars' or comet event and evaluate the knowledge acquired
  • Discuss the role of Copernicus in challenging long held beliefs of Earth's role in the Universe

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • You will be expected to carry out a range of activities in your own time
  • The written results are purely for the student and tutor to compare notes and discuss progress being made in learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress
  • There will be a number of tasks appropriate to your course such as written work, creating art or craft, video, photography or small projects. Some of these may be marked to help you progress

What else do I need to know?

  • Through library sources and Internet it is suggested taking advantage of reading of historical astronomy evenets

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Students would benefit from purchasing and bring to class a planisphere (for +51deg north0 and acccustomise themselves how to move around the sky and location of major constellations

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

Astronomical History: From Babylonians to the Copernican Revolution Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online 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 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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