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Online course

In the Night Sky: Orion

Explore the night sky, discover how stars formed and find out about exoplanets, all through the constellation of Orion.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

In the Night Sky: Orion

Why join the course?

From the basics of astronomy and stargazing, to the science behind the birth of a star, this four week course will change the way you see the night sky. You’ll examine one of the most famous constellations, Orion, who the Ancient Greeks believed was a huntsman placed among the stars by Zeus himself.

Starting with its famous nebula where new stars and planets are being formed, you’ll take a look at the seven brightest stars that make up this constellation, including the supergiants Rigel and Betelgeuse, using high-quality images from telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope.

You’ll find out about exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars just as we orbit the Sun and may hold the secrets to life outside of the solar system. Finally you’ll think about the Milky Way, the galaxy of which our solar system is but one small part, and consider the history of the universe from the Big Bang to the present.


All Open University Science MOOCs presented on FutureLearn are produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

  • Observing and photographing the night sky
  • Constellations and Orion in particular
  • Star formation and stellar evolution
  • Nuclear fusion in stars
  • Supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes
  • The Milky Way and other Galaxies
  • The Big Bang and the evolution of the Universe
  • Dark matter & dark energy
  • The Solar System, especially asteroids and comets
  • Planets around other stars

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

  • Apply facts, concepts, principles, theories, classification systems and language used in astronomy.
  • Develop the knowledge and understanding of the range of sizes, distances and motions of objects in the night sky.
  • Develop the knowledge and understanding of the structure, evolution and the main processes operating in stars.
  • Develop the knowledge and understanding of the properties of planets in our Solar System and exoplanetary systems.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge and understanding of the history of the Universe.

Who is the course for?

You do not need a professional telescope for this course, but you may find at least a pair of binoculars extremely useful.

No prior experience of the subject is required.

Who will you learn with?

Andrew Norton

I'm Professor of Astrophysics Education at the OU and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Astronomical Review. My Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number is 13 and I once wrote a children's story book about Exoplanets.

Monica Grady

I am a researcher in planetary & space sciences at the OU, interested in comets, asteroids and meteorites, and what they can tell us about the Solar System. Asteroid 4731 is named Monicagrady.

Who developed the course?

Supporters

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript £49.00

Statement of Participation £24.00

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Charges to your account will be made in GBP. Prices in local currency are provided as a convenience and are only an estimate based on current exchange rates.