Centre for Continuing Education

Modern Astronomy Course: An Introduction

Astronomy. Reach for the stars.

Learn Astronomy the smart way with Astronomy courses at the University of Sydney.

This astronomy course introduces you to the wonders of modern astronomy. From the Solar System to the most distant galaxies, we undertake an eye-opening journey, from how stars work to the structure of the universe itself. Through lectures and demonstrations, you will find out what astronomers know about the cosmos, and how we know it. An evening of star viewing in the Blue Mountains is included.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Recognise what makes up our universe: planets, stars, galaxies, dark matter, dark energy etc.
  2. Recognise the scale of the cosmos and our place in it.
  3. Describe how astronomers make observations and work out how the universe works.
  4. Utilise their gained insight into the ‘big questions’ of astronomy.


This course covers the following topics:

The Universe: A guided tour

We set the scene, showing where we are in the universe, and discuss how astronomers make discoveries.

The sun and planets

We look at the immediate neighbourhood of the Earth, and discuss the Solar System.

The birth of stars

We discuss how stars come into being, and what makes a star shine.

The evolution of stars

We discuss what happens to a star during its lifetime, from birth to its ultimate fate.

Stellar Graveyards: White dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes

We discuss what is left when stars finish their lives.

Miscellany: Binaries, clusters and variables

We discuss some of the more esoteric stars.

Our Galaxy: Putting the pieces together

We look at the whole ecosystem of stars which is our Galaxy.

Galaxies: Normal galaxies to quasars

We look at the ways galaxies live and evolve.

Cosmology: The universe as a whole

We look at the origin and evolution of the universe.

Modern Astronomy: Exoplanets, the ‘new astronomies’, dark energy...

We discuss some of the exciting astronomical topics that have been in the news lately.

Intended Audience

This course is suitable for anyone who wants to know more about our universe. No prior knowledge is assumed.

Delivery Style

This astronomy course will be delivered through lectures, demonstrations, detailed course notes, and plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion. It runs over over ten weekly sessions of two-hours per week.


Handouts will be provided in class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion