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Are distance learning Astronomy courses any good?


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Ive been considering signing up for a distance learning Astronomy course, are they worth their money or would I be better spending my time and money on equipment and books?

They seem to be around the 2 to £300 mark.

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What do you mean be Astro Distance Learning??

If something like the UCLAN BSc in Astronomy then that is one end of the spectrum. If a simple course to learn what is up there to look at and somewhat basic observing then that is another.

Also these days there are ones that sort of fall between.

If you observe a lot and say you image the Sun then some may want to do a course in Solar physics, structure of the sun, nuclear reactions involved etc.

If it is basic observing then most likely you can do that yourself, although a guide or structure to follow is a good idea.

In the US and Canada there are "observing programs" available which are a good start. They give you something to follow. There is as berst myself and others can see nothing similar in the UK. May be unfair to say but asking for the classic 5 objects to view will get every possible combination of 5 there is. 5 beginner objects are different to "your best 5 objects". Also a beginner may start with a 130mm reflector and so little point someone with a 16" reflector picking what they an see. Throw in that the time of year is relevant - M42, Orion, is great, jus tbelow the horizon at present.

Back to the initial point - what type of course.

If it is for basic observing then can/will you follow a simple guide.

Edited by ronin
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Damn, should learn to read.

Take a look at the Liverpool John Moores offerings, they used to do a number of shorter courses that meant you picked ones that were of interest.

The cost is unknown and may be a negative aspect.

www.astronomy.ac.uk

Actually looks like the number of offerings have been reduced.

The other that is popular is Coursera https://www.coursera.org/

US based but you can select whatever is relevant, unsure of cost.

Actually the front page says "Free".

Finally the OU started up courses with assorted universities for introductions to subjects.

Seem to recall they had a few that were astronomy/astrophysics orientated.

Lost the name however - got it= Openlearn.

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/

After that check for talks at Exeter Uni.

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Try searching through the Openlearn offerings under technology/Science -> Astronomy then click Display All Astronomy Courses.

Not sure about the 60 second ones but I half guess there is a 60 second thing then a more in depth one later.

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I did the OU's free 'FutureLearn' "Moons" course. It was pretty good, to be honest, though it did get a bit into the geology end of things - but I suppose it had to. 

Still, I enjoyed and learnt from it - and for free, it doesn't get cheaper.

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Personally i hate "structured Learning" and exams. Astronomy for me is a lifestyle (and a hobby). Ive been into it most of my life. I prefer to educate myself on the subject by reading books/online and observing. 

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A whole bunch of us did the "Moons" course.

As per above, it was free, and well worth participating in. Even if rather long.

I would not shell out on a payable course unless it was face to face for a good chunk of time (even Skype would work).

I'll probably follow another FutureLearn course if one arises (hopefully condensed).

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I signed up for one of the Liverpool John Moores courses 3 years ago.  Not for the qualifications but for structured learning.  Unfortunately the weather was so bad that it was difficult to do the modules on time and in the end I gave up on it - not the only one with weather problems either.  Some of the modules, like following the light curve of variable stars didn't strike me as particularly practical because of the need for several successive clear nights.  A lot depends on where you interests lie.

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mickshere........Hi, ask and learn here, Its FREE, and its 24/7, replies are  normally quick too.  In no time, you'll soon be offering your own advice and experience to others.

Grab yourself the freeware program Stellarium, that's FREE too. 

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I'd suggest that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Yes, you could find an astronomy course that will spoon feed you the information you desire... but if you're not looking for a qualification, it might be more fun just to research topics as and when they come to your attention. 

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Had a talk to the UCLAN rep at the Sidmouth fair day, nice guy  not pushy at all just informative.. I walked away thinking those courses sound interesting BUT I think I could probably spend, nay invest, £420 ( 530 euros or 700 dollars) a year in books, travelling and club memberships  and achieve more

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Coursera do free video based courses which are excellent. I am currently watching "Analyzing the Universe" which is pretty much exactly what you are after I think. It is a set of 15-20 min videos going through how making observations in the sky have led to understanding of cosmic distance, binary systems, pulsars, nebula and stellar evolution. I am thoroughly enjoying it. You can also do the 'homework' if you want when the course actually runs, as there is a qualification you can get, but you don't need to do this (and I certainly can't be bothered), just watch the videos and learn.

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