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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Science of the Solar System by Caltech

601 ratings
210 reviews

About the Course

Learn about the science behind the current exploration of the solar system in this free class. Use principles from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology to understand the latest from Mars, comprehend the outer solar system, ponder planets outside our solar system, and search for habitability in our neighborhood and beyond. This course is generally taught at an advanced level assuming a prior knowledge of undergraduate math and physics, but the majority of the concepts and lectures can be understood without these prerequisites. The quizzes and final exam are designed to make you think critically about the material you have learned rather than to simply make you memorize facts. The class is expected to be challenging but rewarding....

Top reviews

Mar 3, 2020

Learning facilitated by good lecturing, well prepared lectures and excellent quizzes.\n\nLecturer Mike Brown, enthusiastic about his subject, generous in sharing his knowledge, humorous, and honest.

May 24, 2019

The lectures are engaging and replete with thought provoking material. Professor Brown's in depth knowledge of the field and his passion for planetary science aroused an everlasting curiosity.

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26 - 50 of 202 Reviews for The Science of the Solar System

By nahuel m

Jan 13, 2021

Recomiendo este curso sin lugar a dudas a todo aquel interesado o curioso con el mismo. La dificultad es media a baja, las clases son muy interesantes, se aprende mucho, hay una clara explicación de muchas de las publicaciones científicas que hoy nos permiten entender el sistema solar en el que vivimos y sus planetas. Algunas de las imágenes que se muestran son espectaculares.

Es destacable la calidad de las explicaciones, los primeras unidades sobre Marte son espectaculares y ayudan a engancharte con el curso.

Mike Brown es un excelente y agradable docente, y además alguien muy importante en la comunidad astronómica por sus descubrimientos de los planetas enanos cercanos a Plutón.

El curso abordan incluso el tema de los exoplanetas y de la vida.

La traducción de los videos no es perfecta, pero un mínimo inglés te permite interpretar bien los errores.

Algunas de las preguntas de las evaluaciones son desafiantes y realmente ayudan mucho en la comprensión.

De forma intensiva se puede completar en dos a tres semanas.

By Brian P

Jun 2, 2017

Excellent overview of the current state of solar system exploration. The lectures were amazingly entertaining, even if the quiz questions were typically convoluted and designed for confusion. By sheer repetition, repeating the quizzes until all the answers are correct, the information is hammered home. The most interesting part of the course for me was the planetary science, the astrobiology coverage at the end was, of necessity, much less rigorous. Discussion of recent spacecraft exploration missions is good but it's hard to keep a topic like this up to date when the lectures are meant to be reused for multiple sessions of the course. Wanted to dislike the instructor because of his arrogance in the Pluto affair, even if I can't argue with the substance of it, but just couldn't because even though he is arrogant, he knows his stuff, is obviously good at what he does, and more importantly he communicates his knowledge really, really well.

By Santanu C

Jun 10, 2020

This has been a brilliant journey of 10 weeks. I learnt a lot of new things about our solar system, our sister planet Mars, and even the small comets and asteroids. This course taught us about the evolution of solar system, how we can search for life in distant systems and how much research is actively taking place in these fields. Professor Brown always incorporated research papers and real data to teach us most of the topics, this gave us an idea how to analyze data and why it is important to be skeptical while studying science. The quizzes have been thought-provoking. I am also glad to have had access to the vast resources and research papers that we were exposed to. Thank You. Looking forward to more courses from Caltech ( and may be Prof. Brown :) )

By Rashmi M

Aug 3, 2020

An exceptionally well structured course which not just gives facts but tells how planetary scientists go about things and how do they do, what they do. Mike Brown as a teacher is amazing, never a dull moments in class. The quizzes help kind of summarize entire leanings. It has guest lecturers assess well as a field trip. It is the best Coursera course that I have taken till now. I am glad I took this. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in space, whether you have a bit of prior knowledge or none at all. This is a must course for people interested in space. I can go on and on. But you get my point, right? Just go for the course :)

By Davide D

Sep 13, 2020

It has been an extraordinary journey, deep down through different exciting topics regarding solar and extra-solar system science! I think Dr. Mike Brown is one of the most inspiring persons I've ever seen, so fond and enthusiastic while explaining even the most difficult concepts during his lectures, together with his other colleagues scientists who have been as well passionate and clear while deepening into their research topics. Finally, many thanks to Coursera to have offered such a scientifically thorough and fascinating course, with an excellent organization of all its contents on both desktop and mobile version of the site!

By kevin k

Jun 4, 2018

I am overwhelmed. This was an excellent course and Dr. Brown was one of the best knowledgable scientists and lecturers I have ever seen. It's been more than a few decades since I was last in a University classroom (Canada) and I found that this coursera format makes a great balance of online learning, and testing for knowledge acquired. Back to the content, sure there are some issues... numerous typos in transcripts, quiz material, bad audio in many spots, but when it worked 90%+ of the time it was exhilarating! Busy for the summer but come the fall (northern hemisphere) I will look for other courses by him.

By Simon C

Apr 8, 2016

Who only five stars? Because that is all I have to give. I'm sorry, this course deserves more.

I am repeating this course,but not because I need to. I passed last year, but I know that there will be new material that I want to learn. I'm pleased to see that there are familiar faces from last year.

Prof. Mike Brown obviously know his stuff, and enjoys communicating it to students. There are plenty of references for students who want to explore things further. The discussion forums are excellent, with people sharing information, and Mike somehow finds the time to monitor the forums and contribute to the discussion.

By Richard H

Aug 12, 2017

Having now taken a couple other Coursera MOOCs, I'm getting the feeling this one is even more exceptionally good than I realized when I took it. Aside from a few videos it's mostly presented by Prof. Mike Brown, who is erudite, engaging, and accomplished. The course emphasizes not the "what" but the "why" and "how" of the evolution of the Solar System. I like to think I'm fairly well informed about astronomy and astrophysics at a lay outsider's level but I learned a lot from this course. Remind me to re-take it after he revises it to cover the discovery (any year now) of Planet 9!

By Jocelino R

Aug 15, 2016

Very good lecturer - keeps things interesting and uses of figures and results from published peer-reviewed papers. Explains things from first principles and does a very in depth historical analysis of the topics studied.

Only criticism I would give would be to have more regular feedback or tests regarding what is learnt. There are 4 topics in this course for the 10 week duration and there's only a test at the end of each topic. A test at the end of each week would keep students on their toes.

Nevertheless, still a 5 star course. Thanks for letting me take this!

By David G

Jul 25, 2020

Professor Mike Brown does an excellent job of enthusiastically presenting the discoveries and future missions for the solar system. I found the subject matter to be fascinating. I needed to take extra time to study for the tests, because it was sometimes difficult to harvest the most important points from the plethora of information being taught. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the course, and I would recommend it for aspiring planet scientists and lifelong learners. Thank you Professor Brown, and I wish you continued success in your future endeavors!

By Scott M

Sep 3, 2017

This is a great course. I'm a regular guy with no science education, just a keen interest in science and astronomy. The lectures delivered by Mike Brown and guests are clear and high quality, so even I could follow along. The mid-lecture questions, weekly quizzes, and final exam are designed to make you think about what you have learned rather than just regurgitate facts - this really helped me with the learning process. I just need to learn how to take better lecture notes for future courses. Thank you to all involved for an excellent ten weeks :)

By Kevin B

Dec 1, 2020

I took this class out of personal interest in the matter, and it provided some very interesting insight (which I had hoped when I booked it). Prof. Brown is a really passionate teacher, and it is obvious that he really enjoys what he is doing. Besides, it is a really cool thing to be taught by a leading scientist on his field of research!

It would be nice if you were able to download the material in PDF or something to reread it afterwards, that would make the experience even more fun.

By Danilo K M

Jul 31, 2020

Mike Brown is such a great professor. He makes the subjects, the classes so interesting so that you really want to learn more. I'm really going to miss him on my weeks, even though we never actually meet in real life.

Every class was interesting and I learnt many things, even for me that does not belong to the astronomy field, I will say that they are a little hard, even more if you do not have some background of science, but if you but some effort it is totally worth and rewarding.

By Peter M

Jun 26, 2016

This is an absolutely amazing class. You will learn a great deal about the story behind our solar system, and the competing theories behind some of what has happened. It's wonderful, interesting, and at times even funny. It is worth every second of frustration and effort I put in.

I only took two science classes in college. If you have never taken a college level science class, this may be difficult. But it is extremely rewarding. If you struggle, keep fighting. You'll get there!

By Ray G

Feb 19, 2021

I really enjoyed the Science of the solar system course, Mike Brown was both informative and engaging and I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to gain a wider understand of our solar system.

The content of the course was set out in easy to follow steps that walked you through our our solar system from Mars, to the gas and ice giants and what part they played in shaping the solar system we see today.

Once again a big thank you fro providing this on line course......

By Richard E

Jun 1, 2018

This was definitely an excellent course, presenting interleaved layman and technical perspectives of our solar system. Not quite 5 stars but certainly better than 4 stars. Some issues: (1) Missing lecture transcripts. (2) The transcripts frequently need manual clean-up. (3) The case made for why Pluto is not a planet needs the addition of a more rigorous discussion of what should the definition of a planet be. I'd love to see a debate between Dr. Brown and Dr. Alan Stern!

By Jana K

Oct 14, 2019

I absolutely loved how the lections were prepared, I felt like I was having one to one conversations and I felt curious for next and next lecture. I was more interested in the lections starting with the 5th week - focused on Jupiter and outer Solar System as the first 4 weeks were focused on Mars, though even this topic was handled in an interesting way. I recommend this course as it gives a very nice overview of our Solar system, full on astonishing facts.

By Matthew F

Nov 9, 2020

Highly recommended - fascinating course run by an incredibly engaging and clearly passionate professor.

I took the course as I had a casual interest in the subject, but it has made me question how I can incorporate further learning of the solar system (and beyond) into my career.

Many thanks for the time and expertise, including from the fascinating guest lecturers, put into creating and running this taster of what we have to learn from the solar system.

By Bart R

May 9, 2017

I enjoyed this course tremendously. It was awesome to see how Mike Brown and his colleagues would explain not only what is known about the solar system, but also how these hypotheses came into being and (often) were proved. There was a good mix between things that you could conceptually grasp without knowing physics, chemistry or math too much without the course being too easy or too devoid of depth. I highly recommend this course.

By Lucien B

Jun 1, 2020

Great course ! I learnt a lot, Prof Brown is extremely good and and keeps an open minded posture and brings great depth of perspective to the training. He managed to keep the content as accessible (assuming prior knowledge of BSc physics and maths to get all the info)

I wish my teachers were as good during university and grad school :) it makes me somehow regret not choosing astronomy as a PhD. Tough but so exciting topic !!

By David R

May 9, 2020

Great course and ample knowledge to get from it, very well updated within reasonable manner.

I found it very well prepared, useful and easy to follow, also allowing great room for working on every subject. I appreciate the proper differentiation among facts, currently accepted theories, alternative possibilities and. opinions.

Congratulations for a really great job preparing the course and keeping it updated.

By Buğrahan Y

Oct 5, 2020

I am really happy to be able to take and finish this course. The instructor and other professors were amazing and I have learnt amazing stuff. Thanks to everyone who participated on creating this course. I definitely achieved my goals from this course that I desired along the course. I will recommend this course to everyone I know who is interested in space and our solar system. Thanks for everything.

By Monika K

Apr 27, 2016

I love Prof Brown's enthusiasm. He is very engaging, clearly he enjoys reaching so many students around the world. His efforts are much appreciated!

I'm taking this course more from data science's point of view. I need to understand concepts and a bit of physics and maths in order to run my tests but not to the degree of an astronomer (not yet, anyway). It's been hugely educational and interesting.

By Luis A

Apr 4, 2016

While there are a few technical issues, this is an awesome course. Not only is it is very detailed and informative, but entertaining and sometimes even amusing. Being so detailed and informative, a lot of the material is quite challenging. The tests in particular are tough. However, I highly recommend this course because it will make you really appreciate astronomy as a field and the solar system.