Cosmology Courses
Short Cosmology Courses for Museum & Planetarium StaffThe Center regularly offers cosmology short courses for educators with the goal of integrating modern research into both formal and informal educational settings. These courses bring the latest discoveries, developments, data, and tools of research to diverse audiences e.g., planetarium staff and 4-year college faculty.

"Observing Einstein's Outrageous Universe", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
September 19 - 21, 2016 | Chicago, IL
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Observing Einstein's Outrageous Universe: Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Gravitational Lenses and the Big Bang

Who Should Attend: Museum & Planetarium Staff

What to Expect:
  • A better understanding of the BIG Picture of cosmology
  • Conversations with leading edge researchers
  • A day at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum to see innovative ways to bring current research into a museum
  • Practicum sessions that will allow you test drive programming ideas developed during the course
  • Tools and resources to bring the frontiers of physics to your home institution


Course Description
A century ago Einstein put forth his theory of gravity. For the first 50 years it was an exotic theory with many untestable predictions thought to be irrelevant to our Universe. Beginning 50 years ago with the discovery of quasars and the cosmic microwave background (CMB), it has become clear that we live in Einstein’s Universe where the extraordinary is now the ordinary and his theory is in full bloom. To study the Universe today you have to understand the cosmic implications of Einstein's theory. We will focus on observable aspects of some of the most outrageous and compelling predictions of general relativity. These predictions include black holes, gravitational waves, gravitational lensing, and the Big Bang. We will explore the recent detection of gravitational waves from the merger of black holes 30 times the mass of our Sun, the spectacular fireworks associated with the death of stars and the formation of neutron stars and black holes, precise measurements of properties of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the bending of light due to the gravity of clusters of galaxies, and how we learn about the origin of space, time, and the earliest moments of the Universe.Learn more >>

"Evolving Universe", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
September 21 - 23, 2014 | Chicago, IL
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In our eighth short course KICP researchers will share the most current research about the cosmos focused on the theme of change and evolution. The course will feature a practicum, where teams of participants develop sky show presentations, which will be juried on the final day.

Who Should Attend: Museum & Planetarium Staff
What to Expect:
- A better understanding of the BIG Picture of cosmology
- To meet and talk with researchers at the forefronts
- To visit the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum to see innovative ways to bring current cosmology into a museum
- Practicum sessions that will allow you test drive programming ideas developed during the course
- Tools and resources to bring forefront research into your home institution

Course Description The heavens fixed no more. Discoveries made over the past decade have revealed that the Universe and objects within are changing on timescales from shorter than a microsecond to longer than a billion years. From our own solar system and other planetary systems to stars, galaxies and clusters of galaxies astronomers are chronicling an evolving and evermore interesting universe with their sophisticated instruments.

Though astronomers since antiquity have realized that new objects sometimes appear in the night sky, they considered the cosmos to be timeless and unchanging. Even as recently as the 1920s, astrophysicists had difficulty comprehending a universe that was not eternal. Now we know differently. Change is the rule. Planets form and orbit other stars; stars explode in violent supernovas; galaxies and black holes merge; and the Big Bang set it all in motion.

Astronomers now regularly witness many of these phenomena -- fleets of space satellites and ground based telescopes monitor the sky in real time, detecting transient events like solar flares, gamma ray bursts and supernovae within hours. Telescopes in Antarctica are mapping the spacetime ripples from the Big Bang, the Universe's most dramatic period of evolution. These events let us observe new physics in extreme conditions which are only ever reproduced on Earth in massive computer simulations revealing how galaxies collide and stars explode.Learn more >>

"Dark Matters", Short Course for Museum & Planetarium Staff
September 26 - 28, 2012 | Chicago, IL
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The past twenty years have brought enormous advances in our understanding of the Universe. Evidence from multiple forms of investigation including: precise measurements of the CMB, supernovae, statistical studies of the structures of the Universe, gravitational lensing, baryon acoustic oscillations, theory and phenomenalogical simulations all point to the same concordance model: a Universe that started with a big bang and then went through a brief period of superluminal growth (i.e. inflation); which is currently expanding at an accelerated rate and has a matter energy composition of:
  • 72% dark energy
  • 23% dark matter
  • 4.6% atoms
  • 0.4% photons

However nice and neat this picture is, it remains full of unknowns. This short course will explore in depth one of the major mysteries on which this model rests: dark matter. It will provide you with the current big cosmological picture, gritty details of the on going searches for dark matter, stories from the forefronts of research and resources that will help you to bring dark matter back to your home institution in a meaningful way. You will meet the individuals behind the headlines and the course format will provide abundant time for informal interactions with them and your peers.

Beyond the big picture and how dark matter fits into this picture, we will delve much deeper into this mysterious stuff that comprises almost a quarter of the universe. We will explore the evidence for the existence of dark matter, what models and experimental evidence point to as potential candidates for the particles that compose dark matter, and how dark matter might be detected. Dark matter detection and detector hardware will be a special focus of this course. We will explore direct detection, indirect detection, accelerator searchers (i.e.., producing it in an accelerator and then detecting the decay particles) and the hardware that makes these searchers possible.Learn more >>