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Bruce Betts' Online College Intro Astronomy Course 2017

Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy

Want to take an Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy class at your leisure with the Planetary Society's Director of Science and Technology, Dr. Bruce Betts? He is teaching the virtual college class at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) spring semester 2017-- Physics 195: Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy.

The course begins Tuesday, January 24, 2017 with weekly classes running from 3:00-4:30pm Pacific Time. You can watch each class live on CSUDH DHTV and Ustream or view archived classes that will be posted to this page shortly after their live presentations.

Bruce Betts
Bruce Betts
Bruce Betts, Director of Science and Technology, The Planetary Society.

Dr. Betts guides you through the solar system and universe in a class heavy on imagery and fun, and light on math, while still giving you a strong introduction to what we know and how we learn more. Below, you can find class resources as well as links to an archive of the class. 

Class Resources

You can view the syllabus which includes the class schedule and reading assignments list.

The eight planets, to scale (widescreen)

Montage © 2011 Emily Lakdawalla, The Planetary Society. Image data courtesy NASA/JPL and JHUAPL/CIW. Image processing by Bjorn Jonsson; Mattias Malmer; Ted Stryk; Gordan Ugarkovic.

The eight planets, to scale (widescreen)

Certificate Quiz

To receive a Certificate of Achievement for watching the 2017 Bruce Betts Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class (Physics 195 at California State University Dominguez Hills), a Random Space Fact (RSF) is given in each class designed to be “the” RSF that users will have to recognize later to get the certificate.

Take the Quiz

Continue Learning

Watching the course and want more? Continue learning and exploring by joining The Planetary Society, following Dr. Bruce Betts on Twitter, or Facebook, or Google+ and following The Planetary Society on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Class Video Archives

You can view the archived versions of each 2017 class along with descriptions of what is covered in each class below. You can also access the archive of all of the Spring 2016 version of the same course and the archives for the Spring 2015, Spring 2014, Spring 2013 and Spring 2012 courses.

2017 Classes

Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Take a tour of the Solar System in class 1 of Dr. Bruce Betts' online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 2: How We Explore Space

Lecture 2 of Dr. Bruce Betts' online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers easy things to see in the night sky without a telescope, and the electromagnetic spectrum (from gamma rays to visible to radio waves) -- what it is, and how and why we use different wavelength regions to explore planets and even learn their compositions. The class begins with guest Mat Kaplan, Media Producer for The Planetary Society and Bruce and Mat record a What's Up segment for Planetary Radio. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 3: Telescopes, Eclipses, and the Moon

Lecture 3 of Dr. Bruce Betts' online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers optical, radio, and space telescopes, eclipses, and an introduction to the Moon including lunar tides, phases and impact cratering. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 4: Moon, Mercury, Venus-Earth-Mars Atmospheres

Lecture 4 of Dr. Bruce Betts' online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers the Moon, Mercury (characteristics, geology, core, exploration, water ice at poles), the Terrestrial Planet Atmospheres/Triad Planets -- a comparison of Venus, Earth, and Mars and why their atmospheres are so different, including discussions of the habitable zone, greenhouse effect, temperature systems (Kelvins, Celsius, Fahrenheit), and the carbon cycle. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 5: Venus & Mars

Lecture 6 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers Venus (characteristics, geologic evolution, exploration, surface landers, exploration), and Mars (characteristics, many types of geologic features, poles, exploration spacecraft). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 6: Mars

Lecture 6 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2016 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course continues exploring Mars including its atmosphere, spacecraft landing and surface operations, and its moons Phobos and Deimos. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 7: Asteroids and the Asteroid Threat

Lecture 7 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers asteroids and the near Earth asteroid threat to Earth (including statistics, past impacts, and information on the Chelyabinsk fireball). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 8: Jupiter and Saturn

Lecture 8 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers Jupiter, the Galilean Satellites (Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto), and introduces the Saturnian System. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 9: Saturn and Uranus

Lecture 9 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers the Saturnian System including atmosphere, interior, rings, and moons and introduces the Uranian system. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 10: Neptune and Trans Neptunian Objects including Pluto and KBOs

Lecture 10 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers the Neptune System, Transneptunian Objects (TNOs) including the Pluto System and Kuiper Belt Objects, and also covers the solar wind, aurorae, and the heliosphere. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 11: The Outer Solar System

Lecture 11 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers the heliosphere, Oort Cloud, light pressure, solar sails, solar effects, comets, origin of solar system, and the laws of planetary motion. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 12: Exoplanets, the Sun, and Solar Physics

Lecture 12 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers exoplanets (planets around other stars) including discovery techniques, current knowledge and characteristics, and multi-planet systems. Lecture 12 also covers the Sun and solar physics. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 13: The Sun (cont.) and Stars

Lecture 13 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course continues exploring the Sun (physical characteristics, zones, solar cycle, sunspots, flares, coronal mass ejections, fusion, etc.) and covers stars and stellar evolution (star types and colors, evolution, HR Diagrams, birth and death phases, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


Intro Astronomy 2017. Class 14: Galaxies, the Universe, Life

Lecture 14 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2017 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers galaxies (our place in the Milky Way, types of galaxies, Hubble Deep Field), the Universe (determining distances, expansion of the universe, Big Bang theory and evolution of the universe, WMAP and Planck results, dark matter, dark energy, neutrinos), and life in the universe (Earth life requirements, astrobiology, SETI). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.


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