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Astronomy GCSE

Pearson Edexcel

GCSE Astronomy

Study GCSE Astronomy online and venture to distant galaxies.

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Purchasing more than one GCSE or IGCSE? Use voucher code GCSEMB10 to receive a 10% off at checkout.

From stars and constellations, the solar system and nebulae; to cosmology and space exploration; our interactive GCSE Astronomy online course will enable you to explore space through engaging resources, at your own pace.

Whether you’re a beginner, an experienced astronomer, or someone who wants to develop a deeper understanding of the Universe, our GCSE Astronomy online course will spark your curiosity and passion for learning through high quality materials and expert support from a course tutor.

Why study Astronomy?

As well as providing an excellent knowledge base in astronomy, our GCSE Astronomy online course is ideal if you:

  • Have an interest in space and the Universe
  • Plan to study observational astronomy and theoretical astronomy.

Future opportunities

  • Studying Mathematics or Physics at A Level
  • A range of careers related to engineering, computer science, mathematics, through to medicine or law, education or business
  • Careers in astronomy

Course content

Section 1 – The planet Earth

  • The Earth
  • Latitude and longitude
  • The Earth’s atmosphere
  • The night sky

Section 2 – Celestial observation

  • Constellations and asterisms
  • The celestial sphere
  • Diurnal motion
  • Circumpolar stars
  • Practical observing

Section 3 – The Moon and the solar system

  • The surface features of the Moon
  • The Moon’s orbit
  • Exploration of the Moon
  • The origin of the Moon
  • Observing the planets
  • The apparent motion of the Sun

Section 4 – Exploring the solar system

  • Planets, dwarf planets and other solar system objects
  • Comets
  • Meteoroids and meteorites
  • The size of the solar system
  • Optical telescopes, Part 1
  • Optical telescopes, Part 2
  • Space probes

Section 5 – Planetary motion and gravity

  • Solar and lunar cycles
  • Models of the Solar System
  • Kepler’s first and second laws
  • Kepler’s third law
  • Gravitation
Section: Practical Astronomy: observational tasks 
Choosing observational tasks
  • Introduction
  • What practical work do I need to do?
  • When should I carry out these tasks?

Preparing for the tasks

  • Introduction
  • What special resources will I need?
  • How should I plan my observations?
  • What do I need to record?
  • How should I report my observations?
  • What happens next?

Section 6 – Solar astronomy and the Earth-Sun-Moon system

  • Observing the Sun
  • The Sun’s interior
  • The solar atmosphere and the solar wind
  • Solar and lunar eclipses
  • Tides and precession
  • Diameters and distances

Section 7 – Time and cycles, the formation of the planets

  • Sidereal and synodic time
  • Lunar phases
  • The equation of time
  • Shadow sticks and sundials
  • Time zones and longitude
  • Interactions between celestial bodies
  • The formation of planetary systems
  • Exoplanets and life beyond Earth

Section 8 – Exploring starlight

  • Stellar magnitudes
  • Spectroscopy and the H-R diagram
  • Stellar distances
  • Variable stars
  • Radio telescopes
  • Observing in other wavelength regions

Section 9: Stellar evolution and our galaxy

  • Nebulae and clusters
  • Evolution of solar mass stars
  • Evolution of massive stars
  • Stellar evolution on the H-R diagram
  • The Milky Way
  • Grouping of galaxies

Section 10: Galaxies and cosmology

  • Classification of galaxies
  • Active galaxies
  • The redshift
  • Hubble’s law
  • The Big Bang
  • Dark matter
  • Section 10 Revision Quiz

Your learning experience

Study GCSE Astronomy with us and benefit from:

  • Flexible learning
  • 1:1 support from a personal tutor by email, phone or Skype
  • Any time enrolment
  • Our exam booking service
  • Assignments with tutor feedback
  • Ongoing support from the NEC team


Choose when and where you access your course, using learn@nec our 24/7 online learning platform.  

This easy-to-use platform includes interactive checkpoints, quizzes and activities to help you to evaluate your progress as you go.

Your tutor

Our course tutors

You’ll have access to 1:1 support from one of our tutors. All NEC tutors are subject experts, with experience in supporting online learners.

Meet Julie Houghton, one of our Astronomy Tutors.

“I love learning and inspiring other people to learn. I’ve worked with students from primary to undergraduate level as I have taught in schools and universities. Now, I specialise in home education and distance learning, teaching people in the UK and overseas. I have a degree in physics with astrophysics and a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) in physics, science and maths, both from the University of Birmingham, and an LLM in Law from the University of Leeds. A senior examiner for several exam boards, I am also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors.”

What you need to know

Exam board Edexcel 1ASO


  • Online learning with 1:1 tutor support

Entry requirements

  • No formal qualifications
  • An ability to read and write in English


  • Complete at your own pace
  • Approx. 120-150* study hours, plus assignment time

*The specification suggests that 150 hours is needed. You’ll also need time to complete assignments and prepare yourself for exams and some courses like English literature involve a lot of reading. Everyone is different so it’s impossible to say with certainty how long a course will take you, but you should expect to spend longer than 150 hours. Taken across the length of time we recommend, this equates to approximately 4 hours per week. This will increase if you choose to take it over a shorter time frame or may be less if you are retaking a subject and have covered a lot of of the course content.


  • Exams (two)
  • Observations (one aided, one unaided)

Discover more about our Exam Support in our Exam Handbook.


  • 11 assignments (one introductory)


  • No additional set texts required


  • Internet access
  • Computer operating system and browser to support learn@nec

What's included?

Our course fees are clear and transparent to help you plan for any additional costs.

Your course fee includes:

  • 24/7 access to learn@nec platform and resources
  • Expertly designed online course materials (including ebook versions of textbooks where specified) that you need to complete the course and written to cover the carefully selected awarding body specification
  • Support from our Student Services team
  • Structured assignments to help you track your progress throughout your course
  • Guidance from your tutor for up to 18 months from your date of enrolment
  • Constructive feedback on your assignments from your tutor, to help you improve and prepare for exams
  • Guaranteed exam place
  • NEC’s guide to study skills: How to Succeed as an Independent Learner
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar guide
  • Time planner template to help you plan your study timetable
  • Information on how to apply for exams

Your course fee does not cover:

  • Any fees in relation to exam entries or assessments
  • Centre Assessment Grades (CAG) in the event of exam cancellation
  • Recommended textbooks for additional reading or set texts
  • Equipment for core practicals

If you need more support, you can purchase:

  • Online tutorials – if you need help with a specific topic you can arrange a 30 minute or 1 hour tutorial
  • Additional past paper marking – to help with your exam preparation
  • Revision tutorial –  to plan your revision and explore revision techniques
  • Help with your UCAS application service

For further information on additional/optional support you can purchase, please visit our additional services page.

Exams and assessment

  • Exams (two)
  • Observations (one aided, one unaided)

Additional support if you’re under 18

We know that our younger students often need an extra helping hand with their studies. In our experience learning online works best when either a parent or guardian are involved. This is why NEC has developed our unique Progress Tracker to help you to support your child.

NEC’s Progress Tracker will allow you to easily track your child’s progress across their subjects and gain insight to how well they are doing through access to their assignment grades and tutor feedback.  

Read more about how we work with young students who are studying at home or through a school.

Arrange a callback with a member of our Course Advice Team.

Would you like to talk to our Course Advice Team about the best route for you? Visit our Contact Us page, fill in the form and a member of the team will get back to you!