THE MAJOR IN ASTRONOMY
The astronomy major is designed to provide a good foundation in modern science with a focus on astronomy. Taken alone, it is suited for students who wish to apply scientific training in a broad general context. If coupled with a major in physics, the astronomy major or minor provides the foundation to pursue a career as a professional astronomer. Advanced courses in mathematics and a facility in computer programming are strongly encouraged.
Astronomy majors choose courses from a dozen varied offerings that provide a solid background in both observational and theoretical aspects of astronomy. Recent course offerings include Planetary Science, Stellar Astronomy, Galactic and Extragalactic Astronomy, Cosmology, Techniques in Optical and Infrared Astronomy, Astrophysics (three semesters), and Astronomy and Public Policy. Since astronomy relies heavily on foundations in mathematics and physics, astronomy majors pursue studies in these fields as well.
Many astronomy majors conduct independent research projects, experiencing both the discipline and the excitement of making astronomical discoveries. A recent senior thesis project "How Twisted Is the Sun? A Study of Magnetic Helicity in Sunspots," won the Five College Astronomy Mary Dailey Irvine Prize for best undergraduate thesis.
11 courses (44 credits), including:
- 111 (or 228 with permission)
- Three astronomy courses at the 200 level, including 228 and 224 or 225
- One astronomy course at the 300 level
- PHY 115/117 and 118
- Three additional courses at 200/300 level*
* Up to 2 of the additional 3 courses may, after consultation with and approval by your adviser, be selected from 200– or higher–level courses in a related discipline such as mathematics, physics, geology, computer science, or the history or philosophy of science.