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In the night sky: Orion
In the night sky: Orion

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Week 1: Beginning the journey


An image of the night sky.
Figure 1 The night sky

Travel back in time and space to just before the Sun was born then move forward into the future to watch a star die. Exciting enough? Stick with us, and explore places you could never imagine, as you travel to Orion, explore the night sky and study the birth, life and death of stars.

The course

In Week 1, you’ll discover the constellation of Orion, find it in the sky and find out how the constellations can be used for navigation.

In Week 2, you will learn about the lifecycle of different types of star, their birth and what happens when they die. Find out about nuclear fusion that happens inside a star and how their mass, luminosity and temperature are related to their lifecycle.

In Week 3, you will investigate what the night sky can reveal about how it all began. You’ll be able to join our team investigating the night sky via the Pirate telescope, The Open University’s observatory in Mallorca – weather permitting!

In Week 4, you will consider how planets and planetary systems formed and find out about our place in the Universe. You’ll also find out about exoplanets and consider whether other stars have planets like ours.


A glossary [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   has been provided for this course. We encourage you to look at it now and refer to it through the next four weeks.

We would love to know what you think of the course and how you plan to use it. We’re really interested in hearing from you, whether you plan to study every week or dip in and out. Your feedback is anonymous but will have massive value to us in improving what we deliver. Take our Open University start-of-course survey.