Online Astronomy

AST 111 - Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy

Play Button

Play video


Have you ever looked up at the night sky and marveled at the vastness and complexity of space? You are invited to take a deeper dive into the mind-blowing world of astronomy. At the end of this course, you will walk away with the knowledge to answer the following questions:

  • Where did our solar system come from?
  • How is our solar system structured?
  • What makes up our solar system - what are its contents?
  • What are exosolar planetary systems?
  • What is the history of the field of astronomy?
  • Why are the various properties of light important to astronomy?
  • What are the various instruments used in astronomy and how are they used?

Throughout the course, you will also take a look at nearby stars and learn about the Lowell Observatory, the Challenger Space Center, the Discovery Channel Telescope, and Meteor Crater, the largest meteor impact site in the world. Additionally, you will take a virtual tour of the Lunar Exploration Museum and the home of the Mars Space Flight Facility where scientists are using spacecraft to explore the geology of Mars. This course is packed with information and will greatly expand your understanding of our vast universe.

Course prerequisites and requirements

To be successful in this course, we recommend English language fluency and computer literacy. We also encourage you to make sure your laptop or desktop computer meets the technical requirements.

MAT 117 College Algebra is strongly recommended as a prerequisite for success in this course.

Quick facts

Next start date:

Aug. 20, 2024 (8 weeks)

  • Credits: 4
  • Length: 8 weeks
  • Cost: $25 + $400

What you’ll learn

  • Describe the origins, structure, contents, and evolution of our solar system
  • Use algebra and order-of-magnitude estimates to obtain quantitative, scientific results
  • Give clear explanations of physical phenomena

What to expect in class

Video lectures, readings, labs, outdoor activities, homework, design project, discussions, optional live meetings with the instructor, quizzes, and final exam

Exams and grading


Content Mastery (14)


Design Project


Labs (7)


Outdoor Activities (3)


Quizzes (3)


Homework (14)


Final Exam


This course appears on your transcript identically to how it appears on the transcript of an enrolled ASU student who has taken the course on one of ASU’s campuses. Course attendance dates will be listed on your transcript. An on-demand course will appear on your transcript in the session you complete the course.

This course includes a lab and satisfies 4 credit hours toward the SCIT: Scientific Thinking in Natural Sciences General Studies requirement at Arizona State University. It is strongly encouraged that you consult with your institution of choice to determine how these credits will be applied to their degree requirements prior to transferring your credit.

Faculty and course staff



Van Engelen

Assistant Professor,

School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University

Read bio

Why take ASU Universal Learner Courses

  1. Credit you receive is from a regionally accredited university
  2. Your credit is highly transferable
  3. You only pay the $400 course cost if you pass

Related programs

Online BS Astronomical and Planetary Sciences

Online BS Biochemistry

Online BA Physics