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TTC Video - Understanding the Universe - An Introductnomy
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Who has not gazed with wonder at the night sky? The great canopy of stars stretching overhead suggests that our world is part of a vastly larger cosmos. But how large is it? Where do we fit in? And how did it all begin? These questions have puzzled stargazers for thousands of years, and the search for answers helped spark the great advances of the Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. But only in our own time has the full picture of the true immensity, variety, and surpassing strangeness of the Universe come into focus.
Explore Everything There Is in 96 Lectures

Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, 2nd Edition is a nontechnical description of where that picture stands today. In 96 richly illustrated half-hour lectures, you survey the main concepts, methods, and discoveries in astronomy-in depth-from the constellations drawn by the ancients, to the latest reports from planetary probes in our Solar System, to the most recent images offered by telescopes probing the farthest frontiers of space and time.

These lectures fully update Professor Alex Filippenko's 1998 edition of this course and his companion course from 2003. All of the material in this course is integrated so that one topic builds on another as you develop the conceptual tools that allow you to explore the Universe. For example, the study of the Solar System leads naturally to the investigation of planets around other stars and the possibility of life elsewhere in the cosmos. Likewise, rainbows and similar atmospheric phenomena introduce the subject of light, and light is the key to unraveling the mysteries of stars and galaxies.

Dr. Filippenko uses thousands of diagrams and photographs. There are almost 300 short movies and computer animations that make astronomical phenomena easier to understand, and they put planets, stars, and galaxies into context as you zoom through the cosmos. A showman in the classroom, Dr. Filippenko delights in simple, easily reproducible demonstrations that use tennis balls, apples, paper plates, and other objects to explain scientific concepts. Furthermore, he has a gift for analogies: At one point, he makes the energy content of one erg vivid by comparing it to one fly doing one push-up!

Altogether, this course is an unrivaled opportunity to experience a full-year introductory college course on astronomy, delivered by a five-time winner of "Best Professor" on campus at the University of California, Berkeley, who himself is a leading participant in some of the groundbreaking discoveries at the forefront of the field. Dr. Filippenko is both a world-class teacher and researcher: In 2006 he was named one of four national Professors of the Year by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and in 1998 his international team of astronomers was credited with the top "science breakthrough of the year" for their amazing discovery that the expansion of the Universe is speeding up-a finding that is now shaking the foundations of physics.

The Universe Is More Exciting Than Ever

Much has happened in astronomy in a few short years. Many of these new discoveries are scientifically sophisticated, but the comprehensive scope of this course allows you to absorb the background you need to grasp such exciting recent developments as these:

Martian "blueberries": The Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars have found clues in tiny, blue spherical stones nicknamed "blueberries" that indicate liquid water was once abundant on the red planet.
Water on Enceladus: The Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn has turned up evidence of liquid water just beneath the frozen surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Where there's water, there may be life.
Is Pluto a planet? In August 2006, Pluto was demoted from the planetary status it had enjoyed since its discovery in 1930. Professor Filippenko discusses the persuasive reasons for this change-and his misgivings about how it was done.
Exoplanets: Astronomers continue to find new planets orbiting other stars at a rate of about 20 per year. They are rapidly approaching the Holy Grail of planet hunters: extra-solar planets the size of Earth.
Gamma-ray bursts: Thanks to NASA's Swift satellite, astronomers know more than ever about the most luminous and baffling events in the cosmos: gamma-ray bursts. They have found strong indications that many such bursts probably represent the birth cries of black holes.
Dark energy: A mysterious force is causing the Universe to expand at an accelerating rate. The nature of this "dark energy" is now better understood thanks to recent observations that have narrowed exactly when this speed-up began.
Supermassive black holes: Once considered highly speculative, gigantic black holes are now known to be at the centers of most galaxies. These objects, from millions to billions of times more massive than the Sun, can produce vast jets of material moving outward at nearly the speed of light.
A Science for Everyone

As befits its subject matter, astronomy is perhaps the most diverse science there is. It teaches you about natural phenomena that we all experience, such as the seasons, rainbows, and phases of the Moon. It teaches you about tools of the trade, such as telescopes, spectrographs, and space probes. It teaches you about different areas of science, such as optics, physics, and chemistry. It also poses one of the most profound questions in the field of biology, namely, is there life elsewhere in the Universe?

Because astronomy has played a leading role in the development of science since antiquity, it is filled with key discoveries in the history of science, such as Copernicus's heliocentric model of the Solar System, Newton's universal law of gravitation, and Einstein's theory of relativity.

And, of course, astronomy serves as a field guide for understanding the night sky:

The prominent star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion is a red supergiant, hundreds of times the diameter of the Sun.
The brightest star in the sky, Sirius, is orbited by a stellar corpse called a white dwarf, which points to the ultimate fate of the Sun.
The beautiful Crab Nebula is the remnant of a supernova, whose explosion was observed by Chinese astronomers on July 4, 1054, and that at its center is an immensely dense, rapidly spinning neutron star.
At Home in the Universe

There is no doubt that we live in a golden age of astronomy. At this moment, space probes are on their way to new destinations, innovative new telescopes are on the drawing board, experiments are underway to test bold ideas about the cosmos, and powerful new tools for probing the nature of matter are about to come online. Astronomers everywhere are watching the skies with instruments of every size and type, searching for clues that will extend our knowledge of the Universe.

Armed with the wide-ranging and unified view of astronomy that this course offers, you can truly appreciate these future findings as they are announced. Moreover, you can feel at home in our wondrous Universe in a deeply

satisfying way.

TTC Video - Understanding the Universe - An Introduction to Astronomy

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