Jan 4th 2016

In the Night Sky: Orion (FutureLearn)

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

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 amongst 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 will also investigate the Pleiades, often known as the Seven Sisters, a star cluster bright enough to be seen around the world with the naked eye. You’ll observe with your own eyes and share your observations with other learners.

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.