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Bruce Betts' Online College Intro Astronomy Course 2014

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 Projects, Dr. Bruce Betts? He is teaching the virtual college class at California State University Dominguez Hills spring semester 2014-- Physics 195: Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy. 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.  He also talks to a number of guests throughout the course. Below, you can find class resources as well as links to an archive of the class. 

Class Resources

Here are some resources for the class: the class schedule and reading assignments list, the syllabus, and also written class assignments as they were given to the students formally enrolled in the class. We'll also try to post tests. Unless you are one of the students enrolled in the class already, you can choose to do them or not :)

UPDATE: As of March 27, 2014, the written class assignments are now available to everyone.

How to Watch the Class Live

Classes will be on Wednesday afternoons from 15:00 to 16:30 Pacific time from Feb. 5 to May 7 except for April 2 (Spring Break). All archived videos will be posted here, but to watch live including the option to ask questions, here are your options:

UPDATE: As of Feb. 10, 2014, we were informed the classes are no longer able to be streamed live on YouTube, but you can still watch the class live using the options below. 

There is a high resolution webcast available at dhtv.csudh.edu that uses Silverlight. Students can install Silverlight for free at Install Silverlight. There is also a low resolution webcast available at dhtv.csudh.edu/flash

TV: If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, many cities in Southern California broadcast DHTV classes on their cable television educational access channel. Students can view the class on Ch. 36 in Los Angeles and North Orange County, Ch. 35 in Beverly Hills and Carson, Ch. 6 or 29 in the South Bay, and Ch. 99 in Santa Monica, Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre. TV viewers can ask a question by calling 800.339.1193.

Class Video Archives

Here are the archived versions of each 2014 class along with descriptions of what is covered in each class. Each class is one-and-a-half hours. Just click on a session title to get to a large version of the video for that class. You can also access the archive of all of last year's (Spring 2013) version of the same class and the archive for Spring 2012's class.

2014 Classes

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Take a tour of the Solar System in class 1 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 2: How We Explore Space

Guests

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 concludes 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.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 3: Telescopes, the Moon

Lecture 3 of Dr. Bruce Betts' online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers optical, radio, and space telescopes, the history, exploration, and importance of the Moon to our Solar System understanding, as well as impact cratering and lunar tides and phases. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 4: Eclipses, Mercury, Venus-Earth-Mars Atmospheres, Venus

Lecture 4 of Dr. Bruce Betts' online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers eclipses, 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 Greenhouse Effect, temperature systems (Kelvins, Celsius, Fahrenheit), and plate tectonics; and Venus (characteristics, geologic evolution, exploration). Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 5: Venus (cont.), Mars

Guests

  • Rob Manning, Chief Engineer, Mars Exploration Directorate, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Lecture 5 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers Venus (continued: surface landers, exploration), and Mars (characteristics, many types of geologic features, poles, exploration spacecraft: flyby, orbiters, and landers/rovers). Mars Science Laboratory Chief Engineer / LDSD Project Engineer Rob Manning joins the Mars discussion from JPL. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 6: Mars (cont.), Asteroids

Guests

  • Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE Principal Investigator, Jet Propulsion Lab

Lecture 6 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers Mars (continued discussion including Opportunity and Curiosity) and Asteroids (general, exploration, asteroid belt, meteorites) and includes an interview with NEOWISE Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer from JPL. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 7: Near Earth Asteroids, Jupiter System

Guests

  • Timothy Spahr, Director, Minor Planet Center, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Lecture 7 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers the near Earth asteroid threat to Earth (including statistics, past impacts, and information on the Chelyabinsk fireball), introduces the Jupiter system, and includes an interview with Tim Spahr, Director of the Minor Planet Center. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 8: Galilean Satellites, Saturn System

Lecture 8 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers the Galilean Satellites (Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto) of Jupiter, and the Saturnian System including atmosphere, interior, rings, and moons including Enceladus and intro to Titan, and a tribute to Dr. Warren Ashley. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 9: Titan, Uranus and Neptune Systems

Guests

Lecture 9 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course starts with guest Scott Edgington, Cassini Deputy Project Scientist at JPL, then covers Saturn's moon Titan and the Uranian and Neptunian systems including atmospheres, interiors, rings, and moons including Triton. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 10: Trans Neptunian Objects including Pluto, KBOs, Comets

Lecture 10 of Dr. Bruce Betts' 2014 online Introductory Planetary Science and Astronomy course covers Transneptunian Objects (TNOs) including the Pluto System, Eris, Kuiper Belt Objects, Comets, and the Oort Cloud, and also covers the solar wind, aurorae, and the heliosphere. Recorded at California State University Dominguez Hills.

Watch »

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