Phew and thank the Maker!!! My graduate-level astronomy class is finished. I finished my exam and final research paper last night. While I am still waiting my grade for the class, I now get to relax for a month before taking the last course required for my Masters program in January. The astronomy class was quite good, but my not-so-stellar math skills proved to be a hindrance. Still, it armed with a much greater knowledge of the solar system, including formation theories, solar system mechanics, exploration options and so on. The course involved several lab experiments from the folks at CLEA Labs, which I highly recommend. The included studying the four large moons of Jupiter to ascertain Jupiter's mass, a simulated radar ping of Mercury to determine Mercury's rotational speed and an exercise in the astrometry of asteroids. (These courses are FREE and really interesting, and do a decent job of walking you through the math that is required). We also studied advances in optical instruments, the role of women in astronomy, the feasibility of space elevators and other similar, interesting subjects.
Now I can sound about half as smart as most people think I am at star parties!