May 18th 2015

AstroTech: The Science and Technology behind Astronomical Discovery (Coursera)

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How astronomy really works - an overview of the technology that astronomers use to collect and measure light from the universe, and how it is used in practice to make scientific discoveries.

"How do they know that?"

Modern astronomy has made some astonishing discoveries - how stars burn and how black holes form; galaxies from the edge of the universe and killer rocks right next door; where the elements come from and how the expanding universe is accelerating. But how do we know all that? The truth is that astronomy would be impossible without technology, and every advance in astronomy is really an advance in technology. But the technology by itself is not enough. We have to apply it critically with a knowledge of physics to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Each week we will cover a different aspect of Astronomical technology, matching each piece of technology to a highlight science result. We will explain how the technology works, how it has allowed us to collect astronomical data, and, with some basic physics, how we the interpret the data to make scientific discoveries.