If you are interested in Astronomy and have often wondered how you could learn more, the Duke University is offering a free course via an on-line medium called Coursera.

This innovative educational network of Universities providing free courses from a broad range of subjects and topics. The Coursera web site describes themselves as “…a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

The course that is of the greatest interest to us is the “Introduction to Astronomy” course provided by Duke University, North Carolina. In this class, “we will be studying, quite literally, everything in the universe.  We will start with “classical” astronomy, describing the night sky and organizing what we see as was done in ancient times.  We will then embark on a journey, starting here on Earth and progressing outward, to study the Solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the wonderful and strange objects we observe in deep space, such as black holes, quasars, and supernovae.  We will end with some discussion of what scientists know today about the universe as a whole.  Along the way we will introduce some of the methods, theoretical and experimental, that have been used to understand all of this, from Newton’s laws, through our understanding of light and matter, to Einstein’s theory of relativity, and from Galileo’s telescope to WMAP.”

This nine week course is 100% on-line making it accessible to virtually everyone who has access to the internet. Requiring a medium level of mathematical and physics knowledge is the only prerequisite, with a certificate of completion offered at the successful completion of the course. The availability of free education is quickly becoming a thing of the past. With Coursera offering this opportunity for free education world wide there is an incentive for many students and would be students to continue further education throughout their life.