Principles of Astronomy

Principles of Astronomy, by Dr Jamie Love, is a specially written, self-paced, self-learning "hypertextbook" used offline from your hard disk.

These 48 lessons and 8 exams evolved out of years of teaching astronomy over the Internet preceded by many years teaching astronomy in a more conventional setting. From that feedback, Dr Love learned where students had the most difficulty so he rewrote or added new material to the hypertextbook in order to address those problems. It is now a complete, tried and tested astronomy course, perfect for home schools, high schools or hobbyists - anyone wanting a solid education in astronomy. It is also useful as a university-level introduction to Astronomy.
The first 12 lessons and pair of exams are posted here, online, so have a look and see if it suits you.
Then, download a FREE and COMPLETE copy of the course.

This course is a healthy mix of both observational astronomy and academic astronomy. Jamie teaches the identification along with the concepts and to do that he has chosen specific topics to coincide with things you can actually observe (most of the time). Students will learn how to identify the bright stars and obvious constellations as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. Students will gain an understanding of astronomy to the level expected of a first-semester, university-level astronomy course, but pretty light on the math.

The course is divided into four quarters with 12 lessons in each. After finishing a quarter the student is encouraged to take the pair of exams - one tests the student's understanding of the academic astronomy and the other examines the student's ability to identify stars, constellations and other objects. All exam consists of 20 questions with 4 (multiple) choices. That's a total of 8 exams and 160 questions! The browser's JavaScript must be enabled in order to give feedback and score the exams.

Click this button to see if your javascript is working.
If you did not get a "JavaScript alert box" pop up when you clicked that button, your JavaScript is not enabled and you cannot take the exams. How do you turn JavaScript on? Well that depends on your browser but it is usually somewhere in the Preferences or Security settings. Poke around and enable your browser’s JavaScript, test it on that button and then you will be ready for the exam.

You can find answers to frequently asked questions about the course in the FAQs page.

What people are saying about Principles of Astronomy

"You have a very amazing course and it is the ONLY one I have seen among non-degree astronomy education resources that contains all the principles of a successful computerized course." Leila Sadeghi Ardestani - Swinburne Astronomy Online

The Harrisonburg City Public Schools use Principles of Astronomy for their high school astronomy course. The teacher says, "We continue to enjoy your wonderfully written 'book'... What I like best about your approach is that it is NOT an advanced physics course and is accessible to a wide range of students."

"I have just finished your course and would like to thank you for the time and effort you must have put into it. Over the past 35 years, as time permitted from family and a demanding professional life, I have taken a number of astronomy courses but yours is by far and away - the best!"

"My husband knows a lot about astronomy and I started this class in order to have another thing in common with him... I especially enjoy the exams. I click on all the answers because I learn from the wrong ones as well as the correct ones! Great job! And your lessons are easy for a layperson to understand."

"I found your website online. I am thoroughly enjoying the course, and will get the rest now!"

"I am a Gran who is home schooling my grandson for his 11th grade year in school. We are using your Astronomy lessons for this coures and enjoy its easy reading style, understandable science and useful exams."

"Absolutely intriguing. Thank you for producing something that I, and my 9 month old Ridgeback, can study when we're out on the beach at night. ... your explanations make everything much easier to rotate in my mind."

"Well this has really been an eye opener. Thanks to you I have learned so much in these past 4 months. Such a wonderful package that you have put together."

How to Get a copy of Principles of Astronomy

Collect your mini-hypertextbook by downloading this zipped file - "FREE"
Choose "Save File". Remember where you download the file. "FREE" is about 5 MB.
Create a specific (new) directory. Name the directory whatever you want ("astronomy" is a good name). Copy or drag "FREE" into this directory.
Unzip the course packaging with decompression software. Most operating systems already have decompression software installed, but if yours does not, you can use software such as WinZip or Stuffit. Note: Windows will let you browse into a Zip file without unzipping, but the links will not work.
Once you have the book extracted or unzipped, start your book by viewing "contents.htm" (not ""FREE") with your web browser set to autoload images, and with javascript enabled. (These are usually the browser's default settings.) I suggest you then bookmark it ("contents.htm") so it is easier to find later.