A Field Guide to the Planets

Course No. 9566
Professor Sabine Stanley, PhD
Johns Hopkins University
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Course No. 9566
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Reveal the development and morphology of the solar system.
  • numbers Explore the rocky planets, the gas giants, and the ice giants.
  • numbers Understand how scientists discover exoplanets.
  • numbers Better appreciate our own planet by learning about its relationship to others in the solar system.
  • numbers Get a fuller picture of what scientists know about the universe-and how much there is yet to learn.

Course Overview

Humanity’s first steps on the Moon were an immense accomplishment in 1969 and a fantastic milestone in the history of space exploration. And yet, how little we knew about our solar system as compared to what we know now!

Since those famous steps were taken, we’ve discovered what is approaching 200 additional moons of all shapes, sizes, and compositions. We’ve sent spaceships and robotic laboratories to photograph and study each of the planets, dozens of moons, and even the Sun. We’ve discovered ring systems around three additional planets; landed robotic explorers on Mars, on asteroids, and even on comets. We’ve also found thousands of exoplanets around other stars, with implications for our own origins. There has never been a more exciting time than today to explore and understand our solar system and beyond with A Field Guide to the Planets.

Your instructor, Professor Sabine Stanley, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, guides you on a thrilling ride of discovery, illustrated by the phenomenal images NASA has gathered from throughout the solar system. In 24 lectures, you will experience a journey that was never before possible as your professor makes these astronomical wonders accessible to anyone, allowing you to experience, via our robot explorers, what it is like to visit worlds that were previously unknown.

What Is Our Solar System?

When we think of the solar system, we tend to visualize it in two dimensions, generally as a map with planets orbiting in almost circular ellipses around the Sun. We also imagine some moons in that same plane, an asteroid belt, a few more planets and satellites, and maybe a comet coming in at a different angle. Our visual map tends to end with Neptune, the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun, and the Kuiper Belt objects, including Pluto.

And yet the solar system is also so much more. We now know that even Neptune’s orbital distance is less than one tenth of one percent of the distance from the Sun to the farthest objects bound by its gravity—the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of small icy bodies orbiting the Sun 50,000 times farther out than the Earth. The solar system that began its formation 4.5 billion years ago is still a work in progress today—a three-dimensional, dynamic, ever-changing system of energy and matter all gravitationally bound to our star.

And if we had any doubts about the continuing forming and re-forming of the solar system, recent exploration has allowed us to:

  • Witness for the first time a collision between two bodies in the solar system—Jupiter’s gravity capturing comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, ripping the comet apart, and causing it to crash into the planet;
  • Monitor active volcanic eruptions on moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune; and
  • Discover propeller moonlets constantly shaping and reshaping the rings of Saturn.

These and other observations have helped fill out our knowledge of the solar system—and by doing so, has helped us better understand our own place in the universe, too.

A Grand Scale and Unique Features

Earth is home to spectacular features created by erosion, plate tectonics, and collision impacts over billions of years. But many of Earth’s features pale in scope compared to those on other planets and moons. As we’ve explored farther out into the solar system, we’ve encountered features whose magnitude we hadn’t anticipated or even imagined, such as:

  • Jupiter’s Auroras. Some of the most energetic auroras in the solar system, they are 1,000 times more powerful than those on Earth and are emitted not just as visible light, but as high-energy X-rays.
  • Verona Rupes. A cliff face on Uranus’ moon Miranda, measuring 20 kilometers high. With a gravitational acceleration 100 times smaller than Earth’s, a rock falling from the top would take almost 12 minutes to reach the bottom.
  • Olympus Mons. Located on Mars, it’s the solar system’s tallest mountain and largest known volcano, measuring an amazing 27 kilometers tall. But when it comes to volcanic activity, Jupiter’s moon Io is the winner with 400 active volcanoes mapped to date.
  • Diamond Rain. On Uranus and Neptune, it’s possible that carbon atoms could condense into crystals of diamonds that would rain out through the icy layer above. Uranus might even have an ocean of carbon under high pressure with floating chunks of solid “diamond-bergs.”

With Professor Stanley’s guidance, you’ll learn more about these and dozens of other unexpected features and objects—from the surprising prevalence of water throughout the solar system (even on blazing hot and dry Mercury); to puzzling shapes on the Moon; to the quantity of near-Earth objects we need to track for safety, now numbering upwards of 20,000.

Looking Outward to Understand Ourselves

One thing we’ve learned from our solar system exploration is precisely how the Earth is unique—and not just because our planet is teeming with life: Earth is the only planet or moon whose surface has been constantly reformed by the process of plate tectonics.

While all planets and moons have a hot core and experience the process of outward cooling— and some are even transformed by their own geological processes—the Earth is the only body whose outer layer is formed of rigid plates that “float” on top of the mantle. Across billions of years, these plates have ridden on top of and underneath each other, causing earthquakes and volcanoes. But this process, along with weathering and erosion, also means that the surface history of our planet has been almost completely erased.

The only way we can learn about the earliest history of Earth is by exploring the nearby terrestrial planets and moons. And we continue to make new discoveries using fieldwork from decades earlier. In fact, the oldest Earth rock ever found was discovered in 2019—when scientists re-examined Moon rocks Apollo 14 brought back almost 50 years ago. Embedded in this cache of Moon rocks was a 2-gram fragment whose chemistry indicated it came from the Earth almost 4 billion years ago, likely jettisoned onto the Moon by a collision with a large asteroid.

Did you know the Earth shares its orbit around the sun with an asteroid? We already knew other planets had so-called Trojans asteroids that share an orbit with a planet at a stable point either in front of or behind the planet—but we did not know Earth had a Trojan until it was discovered by NASA’s WISE mission in 2011. We’ve also been able to make amazing headway into understanding the building blocks of life and how they might be more common throughout the solar system than we had thought. In fact, we have discovered complex hydrocarbons on several bodies in the solar system. This suggests that we may be able to learn about the earliest development of life on Earth from the processes we study on these other moons and planets.

With A Field Guide to the Planets, you will experience a uniquely satisfying, vicarious journey—to every major destination in our solar system, and really understand a whole range of features with the excitement of a traveler who’s just returned from a truly eye-opening trip. You will look to humanity’s next space missions with new anticipation, and experience our own Earth with greater understanding and appreciation than ever before.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    How the Solar System Family Is Organized
    Since 1962, robots have been exploring our solar system to help answer this most important question: Who are we? With fascinating data and images now in hand, explore this family album overview of our planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, Kuiper Belt objects, and long-period comets-and fly through some of our solar system's most unique features! x
  • 2
    Mercury, the Extreme Little Planet
    Mercury is a planet of many solar system extremes-smallest planet, closest to the Sun, shortest year, most elliptical orbit, smallest axis tilt, and largest fraction of iron. Learn how these characteristics and others have resulted in a planet where the Sun sometimes moves backwards across the sky, where water ice has been found at the poles, and a magnetic field that offers more protection than Mars'. x
  • 3
    Venus, the Veiled Greenhouse Planet
    While the Venusian carbon dioxide atmosphere has resulted in a runaway greenhouse effect and the hottest surface temperature in the solar system, the Earth and Venus actually contain about the same amount of carbon. Explore the forces that resulted in the extreme atmospheric differences between these two otherwise-similar planets. x
  • 4
    Earth: How Plate Tectonics Sets Up Life
    Given the striking similarities between the four terrestrial planets, why is Earth the only one teeming with life? Proposed as a bold theory less than 70 years ago, could plate tectonics be a main driver of life on Earth? Explore the fascinating movement of our planet's surface and the many ways in which a geologically-active Earth has sustained our biologically-active planet. x
  • 5
    Orbiting Earth: Up through the Atmosphere
    Compared to Venus or the giant planets, Earth has a relatively thin atmosphere. And yet, without this single, fragile layer, life would not have evolved and thrived. Discover the unique properties of each atmospheric layer- and encounter specific ways we've explored each layer as a springboard to exploring the rest of our solar system. x
  • 6
    Exploring the Earth-Moon System
    Our Moon, formed from the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, is by far the largest moon in the solar system relative to its planet's size. Explore the many ways in which this uniquely coupled system affects the tides on Earth and on the Moon, our rotation and revolution, the process of tidal locking, and even the planetary stability that has allowed for the development of life on Earth. x
  • 7
    Humans on the Moon: A Never-Ending Story
    Even before the invention of telescopes, humans were familiar with the dark lunar highlands and bright maria on the Moon's surface. But now, with knowledge gained from both robotic and crewed missions, you can also explore fascinating and complex lunar swirls, sinuous rilles, and the lava tubes that hold promise as ideal locations for future lunar bases. x
  • 8
    Exploring Mars from Space and the Ground
    Humanity's fascination with Mars is never-ending-from the days when we posited a planet covered in straight-line canals and vegetation to NASA's current Moon to Mars program. Learn how the intriguing similarities and differences between Earth and Mars have resulted in Mars' planet-wide dust storms, migrating polar ice caps, and 3.9-billion-year-old impact craters. x
  • 9
    Water on Mars and Prospects for Life
    Recent robotic exploration provides tantalizing evidence: Mars' barren landscape could have been much more Earth-like in the past. With warmer temperatures, a thicker atmosphere, and the possibility of water oceans and tsunamis, could Mars have an Earth sibling that supported life? Learn about the thrilling recent discoveries that will guide future exploration and scientific inquiry on the red planet. x
  • 10
    Near-Earth Asteroids and the Asteroid Belt
    Fans of science fiction, or the natural history of our planet, know that a collision with an asteroid has the potential to obliterate civilization as we know it. With 20,000 asteroids identified in near-Earth orbit, how can collision be avoided? Learn why these rocky bodies, and those in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, never accreted into planets and how we might harness their resources for future space travel. x
  • 11
    Mighty Jupiter, The Ruling Gas Giant
    Does Jupiter have a greater similarity to the Earth or to the Sun? It depends on which characteristics you consider. Explore the many ways in which Jupiter is unique among the planets and consider what our solar system would be like without it. This gas giant might seem too far away to make a difference in your daily life, but without Jupiter, life on Earth might never have had a chance. x
  • 12
    Jupiter's Planetlike System of Moons
    Today we know of 79 Jovian moons-the spherical Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, and dozens of other smaller, odd-shaped satellites. Learn why Jupiter's gravitational forces plus the orbital resonance of the three interior moons make these some of the most promising places to search for extraterrestrial life-and why scientists believe the Jovian system once included generations of other moons, now gone. x
  • 13
    Saturn and the Rings: Gravity's Masterpiece
    With its exquisitely complex ring system, NASA describes Saturn as the jewel of our solar system." Learn what decades of exploration have revealed about the origin and morphology of these ever-changing icy rings and how they interact with Saturn's closest moons. From the rings to propeller moonlets, a massive hexagonal polar storm, and the giant vortex, our fascination with Saturn never ends!" x
  • 14
    Saturn's Moons: Titan to Enceladus
    With a system of 62 moons located in and far beyond its ring system, Saturn has outer moons that are some of the most fascinating worlds in the solar system. Learn why Titan and Enceladus hold such promise in our search for extraterrestrial life-from global subsurface oceans of water on both moons, to Titan's Earth-like surface and organic molecules in its atmosphere. It's no wonder that NASA has announced its Dragonfly mission to Titan, scheduled to launch in 2026. x
  • 15
    Uranus: A Water World on Its Side
    What a fascinating world Voyager 2 revealed in 1986 during its short flyby of Uranus! Learn why Uranus seems to orbit on its side" surrounded by a delicate system of 13 rings and 27 moons, how we discovered its multi-polar magnetic field, and why scientists think Uranus might contain an ocean made of liquid diamond, with floating chunks of solid "diamond-bergs!"" x
  • 16
    Neptune: Windy with the Wildest Moon
    Neptune is the coldest, but also the stormiest, planet in the solar system and the only planet that cannot be seen with the naked eye from Earth. Its moon Triton is the only spherical moon in the solar system that's an irregular satellite that orbits opposite the direction of all the planets. Learn how tidal forces are not only changing that orbit, but also causing geologic activity on its surface-a surface that contains organic compounds. x
  • 17
    Pluto and Charon: The Binary Worlds
    Although Pluto is no longer categorized as a planet, Pluto the dwarf planet" and its "moon" Charon are considered the closest thing in the solar system to a binary planet system. Explore the fascinating revelations from the New Horizons mission, including Pluto's glacial flows, floating mountains, extreme seasons, unexpectedly complex atmosphere, and a surface that appears to be dusted in complex organic molecules." x
  • 18
    Comets, the Kuiper Belt, and the Oort Cloud
    Learn why scientists believe comets-the leftovers" of planet formation in the outer solar system-could be partially responsible for the flourishing of life on Earth, bringing both water and organic material to the inner solar system. And explore the more distant Oort Cloud, where billions of cometary objects orbit at the outermost boundary of the solar system." x
  • 19
    How Our Sun Defines Our Solar System
    Fly through the corona of what is by far the largest, most massive, and most significant object in the solar system: the Sun. In fact, at 99.9 percent of the total mass of the system, you could say the Sun IS the solar system. With its gravity, heat, light, magnetic fields, and plasma storms, learn how the Sun affects every object in the system-and how we are in a race to learn more about coronal mass ejections before one destroys trillions of dollar's worth of electronics on Earth. x
  • 20
    A Solar System Time Machine and Meteorites
    Today we see an orderly solar system with planets staying in their orbits around the sun, moons staying in their orbits around the planets, and comets coming and going in predictable fashion. But how did it all start? Learn how a molecular cloud gave rise to a proto-planetary disk in which our solar system developed step by step across time and space-and is developing still. x
  • 21
    What the Biggest Exoplanets Reveal
    Planets orbiting other stars used to be purely in the realm of science fiction. How did we begin discovering them by the thousands? Learn about the methods scientists have used to discover so many exoplanets so quickly. From hot Jupiters" to "mini-Neptunes" to planets whose clouds rain molten glass, these discoveries demonstrate that ours is not the only type of planetary system possible!" x
  • 22
    Closing in on Earthlike Exoplanets
    Beginning in 2009, the Kepler Space Telescope began staring intensively at a single patch of sky, about one quarter of one percent of the sky. After staring for four years straight, scientists had identified about 1,200 new planets. Sift through the Kepler discoveries for planets with a variety of Earth-like features, including presence in a habitable" zone, and learn why billions of Earthlike planets are estimated to exist in our galaxy." x
  • 23
    Planets Migrated in Our Early Solar System!
    The surprising detection of gas giant planets orbiting extremely close to other stars has led to the realization that planets can form in one part of a stellar system and then migrate to another part. Did that happen in our own solar system? Learn about the evidence for a Late Heavy Bombardment" on the Moon, Mars, and Mercury, how migration of one or more giant planets could have caused it, and how such migration could have affected the solar system we see today." x
  • 24
    Human Futures in the Solar System
    What are the next big ideas that will help us ask and answer the next big questions? Consider the fascinating future technologies of centimeter-sized satellites propelled by laser photons, liquid mirror telescopes on the Moon, a magnetic shield large enough to help terraform Mars, and more. Nourish your imagination, and experience the inspiration of space exploration! x

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Your professor

Sabine Stanley

About Your Professor

Sabine Stanley, PhD
Johns Hopkins University
Sabine Stanley, Ph.D., is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. She received a HBSc degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Toronto and then completed M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Geophysics from Harvard University. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Professor Stanley was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts...
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A Field Guide to the Planets is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 58.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastic professor and wonderful visuals This course (so far) is wonderful. Sure, it's a lecture but the pictures and enthusiasm make it fun and entertaining.
Date published: 2020-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best science courses I have seen A very interesting and enjoyable course, one of the best that I have seen from TGC. Dr. Stanley's presentation style is informal with a bit of humor thrown in. The visuals that were shown were excellent and really added to the value of the course. It is very thorough in that it covers the sun and all of the major planets, as well as the asteroid belt and the minor planets, along with the satellites of the each of the planets, and the outer reaches of the solar system. The information presented is up to date. It even included two lectures on exoplanets, which provided an update to Dr. Winn's excellent course on exoplanets done several years ago. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that, on average, the earth is at a closer distance to Mercury than to Venus. This can be explained by the fact that the orbital periods of Earth and Venus are similar orders of magnitude, so they spend considerable periods of time being on opposite sides of the sun when their orbits are out of sync. Mercury has a much shorter orbital period and also has an orbit that is more elliptical than any of the other planets. There is an excellent animated illustration of this on the Wikipedia page on Venus. I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in astronomy.
Date published: 2020-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from speech not clear I was happy to receive my courses on the planets and read the first chapters then listened to the dvd, What a disappointment! the speech is so flawed that I had to read the subtitles to understand what was said. The professor speaks way too fast and the end of sentences are dropped sometimes. I was open for a better dvd, sorry!
Date published: 2020-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Effective material and presenter I bought this course to better understand what we know about each planet and what our current research objectives are. Professor Stanley does an excellent job of explaining our priorities and the reasons for them, and I enjoyed her manner of presentation.
Date published: 2020-05-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Would not recommend this course to a novice The lecturer lists fact after fact. It felt like the tired cliche that I was "drinking from a fire hydrant." She never stops to let you absorb the material. At the end of each lecture I could not remember any of the material covered!
Date published: 2020-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable detailed commentary Professor Stanley brings the planets home for the casual observer's understanding. Well worth the time to view these lectures.
Date published: 2020-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Up to date inform.ation. Excellent course which is right up to date. Great photos. A really good tour of the solar system. I often take one before settling in for the night. Thanks Sabine.
Date published: 2020-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done! Astrophysics was my major in college, and this course was a revelation to me still. Dr. Stanley presented the material in an orderly and logical progression, interwove the material from earlier lectures effectively, and spoke in an understandable, open, and friendly way, while not “talking down” to the audience. Overall, definitely a valuable and valued purchase!
Date published: 2020-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Professor Sabine knows her stuff. Halfway through the course at the moment
Date published: 2020-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Up to date and accurate as of 2020 I used episodes of this course as extra credit viewing for my planetary science class.
Date published: 2020-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enlightening lectures I really enjoyed the manner in which the professor gives her discourse. It is easy to follow and the graphics are very appropiate.
Date published: 2020-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pros and Cons This course is correctly titled as a Field Guide since it is experiential rather than college study material (vs.: Filippenko’s TGC course: “Understanding the Universe”). HOWEVER, as an astronomy overview, there is simply none better. My rating is based on the field guide POV. Its best gift is to provide innumerable reasons “to look deeper”. TGC provides many in depth courses for each astronomical concept brought up in the Field Guide. Geological examples that might peak one’s interest include: chondrite meteorites (“Allende" etc), siderophilic vs lithophilic elements, plagioclase feldspar, etc. These are more fully developed in TGC courses such as Hazens’ "The Origin and Evolution of Earth". CONVERSELY, things that confuse in other TGC astronomy courses are so well illustrated by these carefully crafted lectures and accompanying visuals that formerly obtuse concepts just "pop" in the Field Guide. TOOLS: 1.) Analogy. Ex: comparing the appearance of white clouds on Neptune over storm centers to those on earth rising over mountains; 2.) Humility. The course is heavy on current imaginative theories but Stanley balances this with frequent caveats that show how tentative our views are. Ex: L22 on Exoplanets & L23 on the Late Heavy Bombardment are excellent precautions that even “well accepted” positions have huge potential problems. USAGE HINTS: 1.) The online Guidebook is in color but the hard copy is not. Given the subject, the online is superior; 2.) The quizzes (and their answers) were VERY well chosen and helped retention. They particularly emphasize the errors of our prior thinking. Take them! ? CONS: 1.) A few reviewers lament that Stanley reads her script. Having given many technical lectures, I have often "read the script" especially when a.) Frequent visuals required careful script or b.) My audience’s background was insufficient to allow me to “drift" from very carefully chosen pathways. 2.) Stanley admits the standard planetary formation model has important caveats (the “bounce" and headwinds problems). However, there are other problems including differential metal vs gas gradients pre-existent across the Milky Way Galaxy disc before Solar system formation (similar to their ultimate distribution within the solar system). These potentially have a direct bearing on origins that I would have loved to hear discussed. CONCLUSION: a top notch Field Guide with great kudos to Dr. Stanley and the TGC staff for amazing, well-timed visuals that is marvelously suited to the lecture material. Stanley's final question: “How do you go from chemistry to biology?” is honest and penetrating. It is a wonderful justification for continued exploration in both space and the lab.
Date published: 2020-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Jillion Cool Facts About the Solar System No pun intended, but this is a great course. I've always liked astronomy, but was astonished at the number of things we've learned about the solar system through any number of means. This course includes everything from photos (often from satellites and probes) to the geology of planets, to what their surfaces are like. It all gives you a greater appreciation for our own planet and all the many factors that allow it to support life. Professor Stanley is very knowledgeable and her presentation is crisp and well-paced. Her manner makes it easy to follow her without realizing that you are taking in a great deal of information. We very much enjoyed this course and got a lot out of it.
Date published: 2020-04-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting topics - instructor reading a script I am finding the video informative, and her enthusiasm is good. But she is obviously reading a script which is not in line with the camera, so no "eye contact" at all, which makes it very distracting for me. I'm sure she knows her subject better than that.
Date published: 2020-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from one of my favorites I studied this subject many years ago in school and so much has been learned since then and revised! The great joy is the photography we now have and she does a terrific job presenting it. Very informative!
Date published: 2020-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow, great information and phenomenal photos With the billions of dollars spent on the space program, it's nice to see some of the benefits with great photos. The instructor is easy to understand, knowledgeable, and definitely and expert in her field. A wealth of information. Well Done!
Date published: 2020-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Grand Tour of Sol System This was a very enjoyable course. There are things of note I'd like to mention. The images are truly spectacular. The lectures are well organized and even though they build on each other, they stand alone well, too. This makes it real easy to get a sudden thought and track down my curiosity about a particular planet easily. That's turned out to be very handy. It's possible that Sabine Stanley may more than just a scientist. She certainly is current with many popular Sci-fi plots, phrases, and speculation, most of which I thought made her very human. I count this course as a very necessary part of any budding astronomer's, or sci-fi writer's, essential library.
Date published: 2020-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent A very informative, well organized and well presented course. There is plenty of hard science here, particularly planetary geology, not just looking at pretty pictures - but Dr. Stanley avoids diving too deep, making things accessible to anyone willing to give things a bit of time and thought. Dr. Stanley herself is easy going and engaging, and has deep knowledge, clarity and palpable enthusiasm for the subject matter. Always something of an astronomy buff, I got much more out of this course than I expected - as Dr. Stanley makes each entity in our solar system a unique and interesting thing. I plan to review this course again from start to finish, and look forward to more courses from Dr. Stanley.
Date published: 2020-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So Happy that this course exists My favorite thing about astronomy has always been to learn about the planets in our solar system. And this course gave me exactly what I wanted. My favorite lectures were the ones on Mars, Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto. We live in such a great time to be an astronomer! The professor was very knowledgeable but I would have liked if she was less an armchair astronomer and more of an engaging lecturer with more physicality in her love for this subject.
Date published: 2020-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Full of fascinating science. I just finished A Field Guide and will say it's one of the best Great Courses I have experienced in quite some time. Dr. Stanley is obviously brilliant and I enjoyed her sly sense of humor. The earliest part of the course covers our neighbor planets that we are most familiar with. By the time we get to the exoplanets, new ideas for space travel, and possibilities for terraforming Mars I have had my mind blown!
Date published: 2020-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent information about planets near and far! Professor Stanley is a marvelous presenter, wonderfully blending facts about each neighbor planet (and those that might be found elsewhere) with the history of our evolving knowledge. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2020-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly up to date and compelling A thoroughly up to date and compelling guide to the planetary sciences The bottom line: I do not hesitate to recommend this to anyone with a genuine interest in the planetary science. Our knowledge of the solar system changes so rapidly, I was pleased to see Teaching Company produce an up to date series lectures on the current state of knowledge in planetary science. This series of lectures is lavishly illustrated with many excellent photos, images, videos, graphs, and figures. The professor has a relaxed and relatively informal speaking style which appeals to me. The intended audience is the general public, so I believe people with science educations as well as layperson can enjoy this course in equal measure. The lectures were thoroughly comprehensive and logically organized, and touched upon all aspects of the solar system, planetary science, and exoplanets. Much time an effort was devoted to the moon systems, which I personally anticipate to be on the leading edge of future planetary science research. Wrapping up: You cannot go wrong with this one, if you have an interest in planetary science.
Date published: 2020-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome exploration of the planets! I bought this course recently and I am glad I did. Over the summer and in the fall repeats I watched the "Summer of Space" series on PBS including a weekly show on each of the planets. I missed this series so much when it ended and then I saw "The Field Guide to the Planets" being offered by the Great Courses! I now have the means to watch this course as often as I want when I want, accompanied by the wonderful course guidebook which enables me to become engrossed in the mysteries and wonders of each planet. Having grown up during the era of the Space Program and the shuttle launches I jumped at the chance to have the wonders of the cosmos at my fingertips, courtesy of the Great Courses and the exceptional Professor Stanley.
Date published: 2020-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course An in-depth course, with UpToDate information, excellently presented. Highly recommend to anyone interested in our Solar System, you will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2020-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sol's Extended Family Dr. Sabine Stanley is a gifted teacher who draws us all close. Her expertise is impressive and her lecture style is engaging. I am enough of an astronomy fan, keeping current through science magazines and radio programmes, to recognize that her course is up-to-date. It is also packed with sophisticated information and insights that I had not already learned elsewhere. The title “A Field Guide to the Planets” tells only part of the story here, as additional components of the whole solar system, general cosmology, and the ongoing history of human space exploration and study are also discussed. All is presented with such clarity, grace, and wit that, while it certainly satisfies as one of the best university-level science courses I have experienced, I would not hesitate to gift the course to a keen high school student. The guidebook and visual accompaniments are helpful and beautiful. The studio set and the professor’s manner and dress are non-distracting. I looked forward to each successive lesson and will want to study all twenty-four more than once.
Date published: 2020-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Much I never knew. Captivating! I was mesmerized through the lectures. Presenter was well spoken and extremely knowledgeable. I couldn't turn it off.
Date published: 2020-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Huge Improvement Over Its Predecessor I had some doubts about this course, thinking it be repetitive to what GC science courses I already have in my collection, but I’m glad I purchased it. Sabine Stanley is an excellent lecturer and the graphics, examples, and overall presentation is excellent. The production set is simplified with no distractions. The information is topical and delivers the most current astronomical information on our solar system. I have over 20 Teaching Company courses dealing with astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics and this is one of the best in the series.
Date published: 2020-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a great set of lectures that I enjoyed. All the lectures are well designed and delivered. I learned a lot about the planets in our solar system as well of some exoplanets, although our ever traveling to them seems beyond the laws of physics as we know them.
Date published: 2020-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Absolutely Best Courses at TGC This course is LOADED with information unlike anything I expected. If you watch videos on Amazon or Netflix about the solar system you will be lucky to get 1/10th the information you get from this course. Also the professor gives clear and understandable explanations. This course is so loaded with information that you will probably have to review the material at least once to have a command of it.
Date published: 2020-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Prof. Professor is very clear and course is organized systematically. So quite accessible to non astronomer. Brings knowledge of solar system up to date, Fun and good examples where applicable.
Date published: 2020-01-14
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