Why study the planets
When Pluto was demoted from full planet to dwarf planet, the world of popular science was thrown into a controversy. Learning about the celestial bodies in our solar system might have alleviated some of the confusion about this decision.
A planet is an astronomical body heavy enough to reach a circular shape through its own force of gravity but not so massive that it causes thermonuclear fusion. Current planets in our solar system still include all the favorites, even with the controversy. Pluto may not pass all three of the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) criteria for full planet status, but understanding more about Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and the rest can teach us things about our own planet.
Along with the planets of the solar system, exoplanets hold our fascination. They could sustain life. They might be our new home sometime in the distant future. Our ninth planet may not have full status, but our explorations will continue into what created all the celestial bodies from earth's moon to the distant planets as far as our greatest instruments can see.
Learn about the planets
The edX platform offers courses designed in partnership with leaders in the field of astronomy. Students can study on their own time with other learners from around the world. Many courses are free to explore for personal development, but students can also opt for official credit for a fee, including single courses, certifications, or full degrees from accredited universities and institutions.
Astronomy Courses and Certifications
Harvard's Super-Earths and Life offers a look into planets outside our solar system. Learners will explore the possibility of alien life, life on earth, and our search for the basics of life. It provides an interdisciplinary course that ties together biology, physics, and astronomy.
Australian National University offers a course called Astrophysics: Exploring Exoplanets. Students explore the weird and wild world of planets like Haumea in the Kuiper Belt. From giant planets to the dwarf planets and everything in between, learners will explore how researchers find these planets and interpret the results of research.
For a more active look at planetary exploration, EPFL offers a course called Space Mission Design and Operations. Students can explore the history of space explanation and learn from those in the field, such as the astronaut heavily involved in the repair of the Hubble.
Explore our universe with edX
The edX platform offers a path for students to explore the mysteries of the universe, from nuclear fusion to the gas giants that power solar systems far from the system we call home. As we explore the rings of Saturn with Cassini and finally get a look at Ice Giants Uranus or Neptune, it could spur further explorations beyond the milky way.
From the very first time we dreamed about the night sky and explored it with our naked eye, we've wondered what's up above us. Now, we can use powerful telescopes to explore the smallest planets and beyond. edX offers courses that can help students explore the planets for fun or future careers at places like NASA; no matter what a student's interest is, edX is there.