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Galaxies, stars and planets

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This free course is a general introduction to galaxies, stars and planets, including scale of the universe from the very large to the very small; orbits and gravity; the Solar System; the Sun and other stars; galaxies and the composition of astronomical objects.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the scale of items within the Universe
  • appreciate the wide variety of objects contained in the Universe
  • understand the relative sizes of the planets within the Solar System
  • calculate how long it takes for light to reach the Earth from the Sun.

By: The Open University

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Galaxies, stars and planets


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For millennia, people have speculated about our place in the cosmos, with many traditions placing humans literally in a central position. Only in the last few centuries have observations and experiments gradually led us to the humbling conclusion that our position in the wider Universe is unremarkable. This course will describe our position in the cosmos, zooming out into our solar system and to larger scales, and also zooming the other way into microscopic scales. Throughout the journey, the course introduces some of the processes that are seen when viewing the Universe at these sizes.

This course is an adapted extract from the Open University course Learn about galaxies, stars and planets which you can study just for interest [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , or study for credit.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course S177 Learn about galaxies, stars and planets.

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