by Ed Sproles
Have you heard of MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses? They are online courses on many topics offered by several services including Coursera and EdX. They are typically 6 to 12 weeks long with recorded lectures that you watch at your convenience. Generally, they are free unless you want an official completion certificate. All course materials are available free online. If you start a class and it turns out to be not to your taste, just stop participating. There is no cost or penalty if one drops out.
This spring I have been participating in The Science of the Solar System, a class taught by Mike Brown, the Cal Tech professor who discovered several dwarf planets including Eris and Sedna. The class has covered water on Mars, the giant planets, the dwarf planets and life in the universe at an introductory college level. Online discussions have been a significant added bonus as other students raise topics and point to resources. I also have been participating in another class offered by the University of Edinburgh entitled AstroTech: The Science and Technology behind Astronomical Discovery. It is more basic and may be of less interest to this group.
There is another class starting shortly entitled The Diversity of Exoplanets offered in English by the University of Geneva. I have registered for it and encourage others to consider it.
Interested? Just Google MOOC, Coursera or EdX to see what is available.