a short course offered online by

Charles A. Wood

former NASA scientist and author of:

The Modern Moon: A Personal View

Monthly lunar columns in Sky & Telescope

The Lunar 100, and

Lunar Photo of the Day

See FAQs at the Bottom of this Page

    The Moon is the most fascinating place in the universe, at least as viewed from the Earth. It's surface bears witness to 4.5 billion years of impact cratering, volcanism and tectonism. It is the only place off-Earth that humans have visited, and it is the most likely first destination for an off-world colony.


    To gain an understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon, including the geologic and astronomical processes that have shaped it. To provide guided studies, interactive experiments, small group discussions and one-on-one answers about the Moon. To make observing the Moon more satisfying by increasing understanding of it!


    Geology of the Moon will be an 6 week course offered from March 29 thru May 7, 2005, although communication with any student still engaged in learning will continue after May 7.  The cost can be measured two ways - in time and money. Since this is a non-credit course, you get out of it what you invest. Each week there will be a mixture of suggested activities including readings, online simulations and projects, things to observe telescopically, and topics to discuss. I hope that anyone who registers will devote at least 1-2 hrs/week to these activities, in addition to posting emails on the course discussion list. The cost is $165, which can be paid by PayPal or by check. For STUDENT DISCOUNTS see FAQ 4 below.


Week 1: Mar 29-Apr 4: Origin of the Moon - evidence and comparison with other moons; Observing the Moon.

Week 2: Apr 5-11: Impact Cratering - processes, diameter dependent morphology, basins, megaregolith

Week 3: Apr 12-18: Volcanism - mare plains, lava flows and sinuous rilles, domes

Week 4: Apr 19-25: Tectonics - all basin related - concentric & linear rilles, lunar grid

Week 5: Apr 26-May 2: Unique Features - Triesnecker rilles, swirls, magnetic anomalies & more

Week 6: May 3-9: Return to the Moon - Why, how, landing sites, surface activities, current and future missions - to Mars?


    The Geology of the Moon short course is designed for amateur astronomers, teachers, space engineers and media folks who want to understand more about the Moon and its history. I assume students have no background relating to the Moon, astronomy or geology - this is a non-mathematical treatment and there are no pre-requistes other than interest. And there are no tests, grades or academic credit. A certificate of completion will be offered to everyone who finishes the course.


    Online education is an exciting and effective way to be part of a learning community  - at least that is the ideal which I have experienced. In 1995 I initiated and led the design and implementation of - one of the first complete and accredited online graduate programs in the USA. We offered students around the world the same MS Space Studies courses and opportunities that were available on campus at the Department of Space Studies, University of North Dakota. Online education allows students to take courses that are not locally available, with a convenience that fits into real life schedules, and a dynamic interaction with the professor and other students that promotes learning. Online students tend to be older and more motivated than typical campus students.

    Geology of the Moon will use various technologies to present content, hold discussions and exchange views. A course web site is the classroom. It includes all information about the course, including syllabus, outlines of presentations, suggested assignments, a forum/discussion center, and a place to post student work. Classes will not meet at set times, unless the class decides to have a live chat/IM session. Most communication will be via email to the course discussion board. All that students need to participate is a computer with Internet access, a web browser, and a passion for the Moon.


    I will suggest readings from my recent book, The Modern Moon - A Personal View. This is a great book (ahem) and is the most recent one about the Moon. The Modern Moon is essentially a tour of the Moon, but this course will discuss processes, so the readings will skip around in the book. A good process-oriented book is Ron Greeley's 20 year old, Planetary Landscapes which some may want to consult as background reading; it is sometimes available used at Amazon


    Registration will start March 8, 2005. Simply email me your name and statement that you will pay the fee when the course starts. Describe any formal or informal educational related to geology or astronomy, and also let me know about your observing and reading related to the Moon - I will post these statements so we will understand each other's backgrounds. Also rank your expertize with regard to lunar science: beginner, intermediate, expert. And if you have questions, please send them too. I will confirm registrations by email and post the Q & A below, minus the name of the questioner.

Thanks for your interest!

Chuck Wood


1. Where do I send the check for the internet course

Answer: The best way to pay is to use PayPal to send the fee care of my email address: .Or you can send a check for $165 check to Charles Wood, Nicabox 2274, P.O. Box 02-5640, Miami, FL 33102-5640.

2. Do I have to take the course on the dates indicated or can I take the course at my leisure?

Answer:  We will discuss the various topics on the weeks indicated, but any  residual conversations can continue for awhile. But I want it to all  end soon after the course end date so that I (and you and others) are free to move onto other things. I am writing some specific text for the course, and will  assign readings online and in my book, and we will have weekly chats and email exchanges. You can take longer to do the readings and activities, but the course will end (at least my participation!) in mid-May.

3. Can international students take this course ?  Would the time-gap be a problem ?

Answer: Yes, international students can take the course. No, most of the discussion will be by email so the time gap is not  be problem.

4. Do you have a student discount ?   :-)

Answer: Good idea! I would like to encourage students, and your idea of a student discount is excellent! For any full time college or high school student  the registration will be half ($80)!  I will need an email from a school teacher or administrator confirming that you are a full time student. To encourage young students to develop an interest in the Moon, here is another discount. Any adult who signs up for the lunar course can invite a local high school student (from an astronomy club or wherever) to fully participate in the course for only $35 - so an adult and a student would be $200 total. I encourage the adult to require the student to pay the $35 as a demonstration that the student really wants to do it!

5. I have a regular modem connection. Is it OK or do I need a faster connection ?

Answer: There will be some images to look at and discuss - but if you can download the Lunar Photo of the Day pages satisfactorily you should be OK.

6. You write that activities include things to observe telescopically. I don't have a telescope/I have only a small telescope. Is this a problem ?

Answer: Not a problem! The observing is to tie the book learning to real physical experiences, but is not required. I use a small telescope myself (5" Mak-Newtonian) and informative observations can be made with eyeballs and binoculars. If you are interested in the Moon you should check it every day with your eyeballs!

Any more questions? Email them to me!