The cosmos - an introduction to the universe

27 March 2006

An innovative ten-week course for those interested in basic astronomy will be offered by the Centre for Open Learning in April.

Led by renowned UCT scientists Professor Tony Fairall and Emeritus Distinguished Professor Brian Warner, this course offers a special opportunity to learn at your own pace and time.

Titled The cosmos - An introduction to our universe, the course offers an introduction to our knowledge of the universe today. In particular, it focuses on our understanding of planets, stars, galaxies and cosmology. Broader issues such as ancient beliefs and the development of life are also touched on.

While it draws on some of the material from the UCT first-year semester course in astronomy, it is not a UCT credit-bearing course. However, if all course requirements are fulfilled, participants will receive a certificate of completion from UCT's Centre for Open Learning.

The course will begin with a full-day introductory session on Saturday, April 22, at UCT, comprising an overview lecture from Fairall and a two-hour computer laboratory workshop to get to know the electronic learning environment of the course. The computer lab workshop will be facilitated by staff from UCT's Centre for Educational Technology and will ensure that participants can confidently navigate this learning environment.

Students can then access course notes, reading and any practical work required via the course e-learning forum from their home computer.

Eight modules are to be completed during the 10-week period of the course. Each week, there will be a new module that will be downloaded and studied.

Three practical evening sessions will be held for observation and discussion related to the course material on May 8, May 22 and June 5.

There will be an online discussion forum for questions and queries, which will be moderated by Warner, who will contribute to the discussion.

This course is open to anyone who is numerate and literate in English.

People interested in registering must be able to attend four contact sessions in Cape Town during April, May and June, and also allocate about two hours a week of home study to cover the course materials and complete suggested observations.

They also need access to the Internet on a weekly basis to look at course notes, and discussions and to complete the on-line quizzes.

No specific instruments for observation are required. Home assignments require only naked-eye observations.

The course fee is R1 500 and reduced fees are available on application for UCT staff and full-time students at universities, technikons, nursing colleges and schools.

Registrations are open.

To receive detailed information about the course, contact the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies at (021) 650-2888 or e-mail

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