What is the course about?
This course provides an overview of the present views on the origin and evolution of the Universe. This includes the formation of matter, atoms, stars, galaxies and planets, and the emergence and evolution of life.
We will follow the lives of stars and discover their essential role in the existence of everything around us, including ourselves.
We will explore the mysterious, invisible 'Ghost Universe' of dark matter and dark energy.
The course features lectures, computer-based practical experiments (with tutorial guidance) and, weather permitting, observations of the Sun, as well as any bright planets and stars visible in daylight, using the Observatory's specialised telescopes.
Please note: There is no on-site parking at the observatory for course participants, and the (first-floor) lecture room is only accessible by stairs. Potential students with mobility concerns are urged to contact the organizers (City Lit) to discuss their needs in advance of registration.
What will we cover?
- A brief history of everything
- The nature of matter and radiation
- The life history of the Sun and stars, from birth to death
- Planets, and life in the Universe
- The Ghost Universe -- into the Darkness
- What we know and the challenges of the unknown.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Explain the current understanding on how the Universe came to be
- Describe how stars produce the chemical elements that make our bodies
- Outline how planets are discovered around distant stars
- Speculate about the existence of different kinds of life beyond Earth
- State what we do and do not know about the make-up of the Universe.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory-level course aimed at both those who already have an interest in astronomy and people with no previous knowledge of the subject. The course has no mathematics, but basic computer skills (use of keyboard and mouse) would be an asset.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will be a mixture of lectures and computer-based practical experiments, with ample opportunity to interact with lecturers and demonstrators. Students will be shown the telescopes of the University of London Observatory, with observing if weather permits. There is no work outside of class hours.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All necessary materials will be supplied. Light refreshments may be purchased on-site or in nearby shops, but students are very welcome to bring sandwiches or other items for lunch.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HS022 Astronomy for fun
HS005 A gentle introduction to astronomy
HS121 Further cosmology
HS135 Astronomy in focus: Human exploration to the moon and beyond
HS094 The history of science
HS201 Cosmic perspectives for world history.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details