Several thousand planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets) have been discovered in recent years. This unit of study introduces our rapidly changing understanding of the place of the Earth in a universe where we now know that planets are common. You will learn about the characteristics and age of the Earth and other planets of the solar system and how they compare with exoplanets. What does this tell us about planetary formation and the number of Earth-like planets? You will also learn the criteria for 'habitability' and the prospects for finding habitable worlds in the near future. What is the relevance of these discoveries to other sciences such as geology, biology and chemistry? You will gain an appreciation and understanding of the methodology and techniques of modern astronomy, especially the technology of astronomical observation. The challenging nature of exoplanet observations will illustrate the need to carefully judge the reliability and significance of scientific data and conclusions. The unit also includes opportunities for day and night observing sessions.
4 weeks of online material and quizzes; face-to-face workshop 1 hr/week; tutorial 1 hr/week; single night observing session 2 hrs
On-line Quizzes (25%), Tutorials (15%), Viewing report (10%), Final Examination (50%)