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.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • recognise what makes up our universe: planets, stars, galaxies, dark matter, dark energy etc
  • recognise the scale of the cosmos and our place in it
  • explain how astronomers make observations and work out how the universe works
  • utilise your gained insight into the ‘big questions’ of astronomy.


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

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

Delivery Style

Delivered through a series of lectures, demonstrations, detailed course notes, and plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion.


Handouts will be provided in class.


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

What others say.

  • The teacher was hugely enthusiatic about their subject and the course content was very comprehensive.
  • The presenter was so knowledgeable, friendly and approachable
  • The course structure made it very easy to follow and build knowledge step by step, week by week as concepts and terminology were developed. Our tutor was brilliant. So enthusiastic and willing to share their knowledge including plenty of discussion over tea during the lecture break. All in all the course delivered what I had hoped and more in setting a path for further learning.