Welcome to Worldwide Astronomy 101!

For Immediate Release
February 02, 2006

Mat Kaplan
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Beginning Monday, February 6, a 13-week astronomy and planetary science course sponsored by The Planetary Society and California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) will air twice weekly over the internet and local Los Angeles area cable networks, reaching a potential audience of millions of people worldwide. Dr. Bruce Betts, The Planetary Society's Director of Projects, will teach the introductory course -- PHY 195 Astronomy and Planetary Science -- gearing it to students ranging from teens to adults.

"Last year we had students tuning in from L.A. to Iraq," said Betts. "This class utilizes the Internet's true potential to educate people around the world."

The course, part of Cal State Dominguez Hills Young Scholar Distance Learning Program, will place a strong emphasis on planetary science, covering all the major bodies in our solar system, as well as stars, galaxies, the origins and evolution of the solar system and universe, and the possibility of life on worlds other than Earth. The first class on February 6 will begin with "Tour of the Solar System."

How has volcanism shaped our world and other planets? What are the effects of the solar wind? Why do the gas giants have ring systems? Each lesson will offer new topics and new insights, including how to gain "eyes-on" experience by doing night sky observations that are possible without the aid of a telescope. Experts from around the country will join Betts via videoconference and phone to describe their research and to take questions from students via phone and e-mail.

While students at Cal State Dominguez Hills who take the class for credit will be required to complete assignments and take exams, everyone interested in astronomy is encouraged to tune in for the sheer fun of learning -- no homework required! The class will be webcast from 3:00-4:00 PM PST and will air simultaneously on cable stations in southern California. Classes can be seen on channel 36 on cable television in the City of Los Angeles, Channel 6 in the South Bay, City View Channel 16 in Santa Monica, and Channel 64 in Pasadena. Television viewers will be given a toll-free number they can use to speak with the instructor during the live broadcast. After each lesson airs, it will be archived on the web site for the duration of the course (February 6- May 10, 2006).

The Planetary Society will offer additional involvement opportunities. Each week Betts will pose a trivia question during class, and students can submit answers to the Society. The Society also offers long distance learners regularly updated, additional class information via its website.

The California State University Dominguez Hills Young Scholar Program provides high school and Community College students in California an opportunity to enroll in 2 distance learning courses and earn up to 6 units of college credit for $3.50. Credits will be recorded on a transcript at Cal State Dominguez Hills and are fully transferable to other colleges and universities (see website for information on the Young Scholar Program).

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit www.planetary.org.