From 1999, Swinburne Astronomy Online has been offering a choice between taking individual online astronomy units for interest, or enrolling for an accredited Graduate Certificate degree.  From 2000, Swinburne Astronomy Online will be offering short courses, plus Masters, Graduate Diploma courses, all online and accessible worldwide.* Our participants join us from as far afield as Chile, the United States, Malta, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Hong Kong, Guam, the Cook Islands, Singapore, and Australia & New Zealand. Our courses highlight the big issues in contemporary astronomy and emphasize conceptual understanding rather than mathematical detail. They are designed to complement the interests of amateur astronomers, science educators and science communicators generally.

Participants in Swinburne Astronomy Online units receive custom-made CD-ROMs* with up-to-date course content, take part in newsgroup discussions lead by professional astronomers, and carry out projects chosen from topics ranging from practical amateur observing to Internet research to curriculum development.

Units available in 2001:
Exploring the Solar System
- an introductory-level astronomy unit on our solar neighbourhood & the challenges of extraterrestrial exploration.  No background knowledge of astronomy or physics is assumed and the emphasis is on conceptual astronomy, not mathematical techniques.

Exploring Stars and the Milky Way
- an introductory-level astronomy unit on the birth, life and death of stars and the structure of our galaxy.  No background knowledge of astronomy or physics is assumed and the emphasis is on conceptual astronomy, not mathematical techniques.

Exploring Galaxies and the Cosmos
- an introduction to galaxies & galaxy clustering, theories of dark matter & galactic evolution.  This unit assumes some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics, plus familiarity with the content of Exploring Stars and the Milky Way.

Theories of Space and Time
- an introduction to Special & General Relativity and Cosmology.  This unit assumes some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics, plus familiarity with the content of Exploring Galaxies and the Cosmos.

History of Astronomy
- the development & impact of astronomy from ancient times to the present day, from the viewpoint of practising astronomers.  No background knowledge of astronomy or physics is assumed.

Introduction to Radio Astronomy & SETI
an overview of both single- and multiple-dish radio astronomy and their applications, plus a study of key issues and techniques in an area where radio astronomy plays a key part: the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).  This unit assumes some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics, plus familiarity with the content of Exploring Stars and the Milky Way.

Tools of Modern Astronomy
- basics plus latest developments in telescope, detector & space probe design for astronomy at all wavelengths.  This unit assumes some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics, plus familiarity with the content of Exploring Stars and the Milky Way.

Astrophotography and CCD Imaging
- this unit will discuss the principles behind the imaging of astronomical objects with telescopes, conventional cameras and CCD cameras, plus the use of computer techniques for image processing.  It will focus particularly on techniques and equipment within reach of the (existing or intending) serious amateur astronomer. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of Exploring Stars and the Milky Way plus some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics.

Studies in Space Exploration
This unit will commence with an introductory section on the basic principles and issues and science goals in space exploration, then trace its history and development with particular reference to manned versus unmanned space exploration, spacecraft design, launch and navigation, imaging and remote sensing. Public perception of space science and analysis of the costs, risks & benefits of space exploration will be discussed with special reference to ethical and legal implications of topics such as the use of radioisotope fuel sources, 'space junk' and mining rights in space. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of Exploring the Solar System plus some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics.

Introduction to Particle Physics & High Energy Astrophysics
This unit provides a general introduction to particle physics in general and to high energy astrophysics in particular. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of Theories of Space and Time plus some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics.

Major Project - Astrophotography & CCD Imaging
This unit will aim to develop the student's detailed knowledge and understanding of the principles involved in a particular aspect or application of astrophotography and/or CCD imaging, plus provide practical experience in the techniques involved in astrophotography and/or CCD imaging. It will also develop the student's ability to keep a comprehensive record of experimental investigations, to write a detailed summary report of techniques used and investigations carried out, and to communicate effectively about the outcomes of work undertaken. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of Astrophotography & CCD Imaging plus some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics.

Units planned to commence in 2002:

Introductory Stellar Astrophysics
This unit follows on from Exploring Stars & the Milky Way to introduce the student to the study of the physical processes underlying stellar properties and the principles behind models of stellar evolution. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of Exploring Stars and the Milky Way plus some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics.

Great Debates in Astronomy
This unit will investigate in depth great debates in astronomy which have shaped (or still are shaping) our current understanding of the universe and its evolution. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of Exploring Galaxies & the Cosmos plus some basic post-secondary mathematics & physics.

plus the major project unit:

Major Project - History of Astronomy
This unit will aim to develop the studentís detailed knowledge and understanding of a particular aspect or period of the history of astronomy, together with practical literature and Internet research skills, plus synthesis and astronomy communication skills. This unit will assume familiarity with the content of History of Astronomy.

For up-to-date details of Swinburne Astronomy Online courses, fees and application procedures and much more, visit the website at
www.swin.edu.au/astronomy/sao/

*Masters & Graduate Diploma subject to University accreditation procedures in late 1999.
*Major Project units excluded.

Contact details:
For information about Swinburne Astronomy Online, visit the website at
www.swin.edu.au/astronomy/sao/  or contact
Dr. Sarah Maddison,
Astronomy Course Coordinator, Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing,
BSEE, Mail Box 31, Swinburne University of Technology
PO. Box 218, Hawthorn VIC 3122 Australia
Email: astro@swin.edu.au
 Phone: +61 -3 9214 5971, Fax: +61 -3 9214 8797

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