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Selecting the right astronomy course depends on what you expect to get out of the course. Colleges, universities, planetariums, and even the Internet all give interested individuals the opportunity to take a wide variety of courses. A basic astronomy course may be all someone wants; however, other people may be interested in deeper studies, such as extragalactic astronomy. Some individuals may only want to learn how to use a telescope, while others may want to learn how to design and build their own telescopes. The most in-depth study will be available at the university level, while the most basic study will be available through planetariums or online.
An astronomy course at a college or university is a good way to learn in-depth information; however, the courses may only be open to students enrolled at the school. Some college classes may be fairly basic and fun, such as courses discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life, while others may be aimed at people who want to become astronomers or teach astronomy as a career. Many colleges and universities offer students the opportunity for hands-on instruction through on-campus and remote facilities with expensive telescopes, laboratories, and observatories. College students can also take astronomy classes that are more philosophical rather than hands-on, such as a course based on the controversy between some religions and the Big Bang Theory. Many colleges and universities give students the opportunity to learn how to design and create telescopes, cameras, photometers, and spectrographs.
Many large cities across the world have at least one planetarium. Astronomy classes are frequently offered through these planetariums. Sometimes an astronomy class may simply be a weekly or monthly lecture in a classroom-type setting or in the planetarium dome. Some planetariums offer opportunities to view the stars through a selection of telescopes. For someone looking for an advanced astronomy course at the planetarium, check to see if there are several types of telescopes available. For example, some telescopes are on self-guided, computerized mounts, while others require the astronomer to move them manually.
Some people may not want to leave their homes to take a basic astronomy course. An online astronomy course is the perfect match for those individuals. Basic information is taught through online text, podcasts, and web conferences. Introductory topics usually include the life cycle of stars, the solar system, the constellations, galaxies, and techniques for using telescopes. After completing several courses, many online programs provide certificates of amateur astronomy.
Not all classes are geared for adults. There are plenty of opportunities for children to learn about the stars, solar systems, and the universe through courses geared for children. There are courses for children as young as two years old, teaching topics such as the names of the planets and the types of stars. Many junior high schools and high schools also offer courses in astronomy to their students through the science curriculum. Typically, they can take courses through the planetarium, as well.
@Logicfest -- An astronomy class in high school? You were one lucky duck, then. We didn't have such a thing in my high school or even an astronomy class in college.
Astronomy is a fascinating subject but few institutions offer the chance to study it. That is too bad.
If you are very lucky, your high school will have a good astronomy course. Mine had a great one that was only one semester long, but we did learn a lot about planetary motions, spent a few nights observing through telescopes, learned the history of space flight and otherwise got a great introductory course to astronomy.
If a kid has the opportunity to take such a course in high school, he or she should jump all over it.
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