Getting Started with Astronomy - Astronomy for Beginners
4.1 (23 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
113 students enrolled

Getting Started with Astronomy - Astronomy for Beginners

Observe the night sky from your place, without a telescope.
4.1 (23 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
113 students enrolled
Created by Lisa Harvey
Last updated 10/2019
Current price: $16.99 Original price: $24.99 Discount: 32% off
5 hours left at this price!
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This course includes
  • 35 mins on-demand video
  • 8 articles
  • 4 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • How to observe the night sky without a telescope.
  • Getting started with stargazing.
  • Discover how the night sky works.
  • How to tell a star from a planet.
  • Light pollution and finding your dark sky.
  • Using apps and maps to know what you are looking at.
  • What to consider when buying your first telescope
  • This course is designed for beginner stargazers.
  • All you need is a love of the night sky, curiosity and your eyes.

When you look up on a clear night, from the darkest place you can find, you'll see stars, planets, the Moon and more.

Stargazing like this brings joy and a sense of wonder.

But sometimes it brings frustration. You'll ask yourself: What is that object? Why is the sky moving? How can I understand the cosmos?

When you look a the same sky with knowledge, being able to name objects, explain their movements and look deeper into the spaces between the stars, your curiosity will take over. You will want to learn more, see more, discover the universe.

This course you will get started.

  • Discover what you can see without a telescope.

  • Learn how to identify what the objects are, a star, a planet, even galaxies and nebulae.

  • Find your dark sky so that you can see more, and go deeper into the universe.

About your host

I'm Lisa Harvey, host of Everyday Astronomers and this mini-course. I wanted to create a place where people could unleash their curiosity and discover new things about the universe, meet like-minded people and share the joy of discovery.

I've been watching the stars for decades and my telescope has taken me to the most beautiful places in space.

I've spent a lot of time creating online communities and online courses and now I can combine this experience with my passion for amateur astronomy.

About this course?

After founding Our Wide Sky a few years ago, many people have asked for beginner tips and information. There is very little available that takes the approach of curiosity and wonder. Most are highly technical, with a lot of science, which does not always suit a beginner.

This course was created with the real beginner in mind. Someone, like you who does not want complicated models and diagrams. Someone, like you who wants to understand a small amount and then choose to move on

The course is videos with transcripts, some text lessons and resources such as checklists and workbooks.

This course is designed for people who know only that they want to know more about the night sky.

Be a Knowledgeable Stargazer

This is a mini-course, and not intended to go into depth about subject matter. Other Everyday Astronomer courses will take you deeper into your astronomy knowledge. But you will get enough information to be able to identify objects, know about what you can see and explain how the sky moves above your head.

This is a quick introduction that gives you a place to start with your visual, naked eye observing.

You'll learn:

  • Learn how to observe without a telescope.

  • Discover how the sky moves.

  • Understand why the stars are different in Summer and in Winter.

  • Find out what you can see from where you are.

  • Learn the easy ways to identify the objects you see.

  • Find the best place for you to view the stars.

Just looking at the stars is a moving experience. Imagine how much more satisfying it can be if you know just a little bit more.

Who this course is for:
  • Stargazers who want to know a little bit more about how to observe the night sky.
  • Anyone getting started with astronomy.
  • Anyone who wants to discover the wonders of the sky without a telescope
  • People who want to buy their first telescope.
Course content
Expand 17 lectures 48:00
+ Introduction to Stargazing
17 lectures 47:59

Welcome to the Getting Started with Astronomy course. This lesson is overview of the course. The course also includes activities and downloads.

New lessons, and bonus lessons are added from time to time.

Preview 02:41

Why do you want to learn about the night sky?

Why do astronomy?

There are a lot of reasons why people love the night sky. This video is a collation of answers to the question from members of the Our Wide Sky Facebook group.

If you relate to any of these answers, add them to your reasons for learning about the night sky.

Preview 02:46

Until 400 years ago all of what humans learned about the night sky was done by observing without a telescope. Doing Astronomy without a telescope means that you can go out on any night and observe the night sky.

There is plenty to see and a lot to learn about the sky just by observing with your eyes.

Observing without a telescope.

This is an activity lesson. The checklist will prompt you to observe and remind you what is visible without a telescope.

The Naked Eye Observer's Checklist

The Moon is in the sky around 12 hours every day. It is an easy target to find because of its size and observing features, phases and orbits will give you plenty to view without a telescope.

The easiest observing target.

The observers guide to the Moon contains maps of the Moon with the main features marked. You can see these features with your naked eye or binoculars.

Observers Guide to the Moon

Most people live under skies that are affected by light pollution. Finding a dark sky to observe the stars can be a challenge for urban dwellers. In this lesson I'll give you some tips about discovering a dark site for observing.

How to find your dark sky.

Understanding how light pollution works can help you to reduce your own contribution, and talk about it with your community.

Preview 01:04

The night sky is different at 8pm and 3am, it is different in summer and winter, and it is different if you live in Chicago or Santiago. Discover why the sky changes and moves.

How the sky moves.

The Earth spins on an axis and one consequence is that two points of the sky are still points. These are the North and South Celestial poles. Learn about them in this lesson.

The Celestial Poles

When you see an object in the night sky, how do you know what it is? If you want to find a specific object how do you do that? In this lesson we introduce apps and maps to help you discover your night sky.

Preview 04:24

Planets are fascinating objects. But without a telescope, how do you know if an object is a star of a planet? In this lesson we'll give you some tips to help.

Is that a star or a planet?

When you are ready to buy a telescope there are plenty of things you need to consider. This lesson gives you some ideas to help you make a good decision about your telescope purchase. 

Work through the workbook in the resources to get a good idea of how you will use a telescope and what features of a telescope you should look for as you research your purchase.

Ready to buy a telescope?

There are two main types of telescopes for amateur astronomers. This lesson introduces these two telescopes, and gives you an idea of the pros and cons of each type.

Types of Telescopes
Congratulations !!

This is a video of me setting up my telescope in my backyard. If you stay to the end you will see something unexpected. Fans of old sci-fi movies will recognise the interloper.

Something for fun.