Curriculum

Overview

The Astronomy Department offers a range of courses to interest scientists and dabblers alike. For students intending to pursue graduate study in Astronomy or Physics, we offer an Interdepartmental Astrophysics Major jointly with the Physics Department. For students who wish to incorporate astronomy into their lives in other ways, such as by pursuing a PhD in Planetary Science or teaching in STEM, we also offer an Astronomy Major and an Astronomy Minor.

 

Introductory Courses:

Visit the Choosing a first course in astronomy page for guidance about which 100-level course to take.

 

Future Course Offerings:

Visit the Future Course Offerings page for an overview of the courses that will be available over the next few years.

 

Curricular Map:

 

100-Level Classes:

  • ASTR 100: Life in the Universe
    • Offered: Every Fall & Spring
    • Prerequisites: QRBS
    • NPS
  • ASTR 107: Exploring the Cosmos: Introductory Astronomy w/Lab
    • Offered: Every Fall & Spring
    • Prerequisites: QRBS; high school physics strongly recommended
    • NPS, MM, Lab
  • ASTR 1xx: FYS
    • Offered: Occasionally
  • ASTR 110: FYS Einstein and the Dark Universe (Battat)
    • Offered: Occasionally
    • Prerequisites: QRBS
    • NPS, MM

 

200-Level Classes:

  • ASTR 200: Exoplanetary Systems
    • Offered: Spring (alternate years with ASTR 210)
    • Prerequisites: ASTR 107 or ASTR 101; or ASTR 100 with permission of instructor
    • NPS, MM
  • ASTR 202: Hands-on Planetary Exploration w/Lab
    • Offered: Most Springs
    • Prerequisites: QRBS, plus any 100-level science or CS course; high school physics recommended
    • NPS, MM
  • ASTR 203: Planetary Geology and Geophysics
    • Offered: Normally offered alternate years
    • Prerequisites: ASTR 107 or ASTR 101 or GEOS 101 or 102, or ASTR 100 with permission of instructor; high school physics required
    • NPS, MM
  • ASTR 206: Astronomical Techniques w/Lab
    • Offered: Every Fall
    • Prerequisites: ASTR 107 or ASTR 101+102
    • NPS, MM, QRF, Lab
  • ASTR 210: Cosmology: 13.7 Billion Years and Counting
    • Offered: Spring (alternate years with ASTR 200)
    • Prerequisites: ASTR 107 or ASTR 101+102, PHYS 107, and MATH 116
    • NPS, MM​
  • ASTR 223: Planetary Atmospheres and Climates
    • Offered: Occasional Fall or Spring
    • Prerequisites: MATH 116, PHYS 107 and one of ES 101, ASTR 107 or ASTR 101, GEOS 101, or GEOS 102; or by permission of instructor
    • NPS, MM

 

300-Level Classes:

  • ASTR 303: Advanced Planetary Geology and Geophysics
    • Offered: Normally offered alternate years
    • Prerequisites: MATH 116 and ASTR 107 or ASTR 101 or GEOS 101 or GEOS 102, plus one of PHYS 107, GEOS 203, GEOS 218, or GEOS 220
    • NPS, MM
  • ASTR 304: Advanced Experimental Techniques in Astronomy
    • Offered: Approximately every 3rd Spring
    • Prerequisites: ASTR 202 or ASTR 206, or prior experience with instrumentation or permission of instructor
    • NPS, MM, Lab
  • ASTR 311: Advanced Astrophysics
    • Offered: Normally offered alternating Falls
    • Prerequisites: PHYS 207
    • NPS, MM
 

Goals for the 100-Level Curriculum:
 

  1. Develop critical thinking skills to evaluate claims based on scientific standards of evidence.
  2. Cultivate basic scientific/physical reasoning abilities.
  3. Explore the constellations, the motions of the sky, and our place in the cosmic neighborhood, using naked eye and telescopic observations.
  4. Understand the properties of light as a universal messenger, enabling astronomers to decipher the physical processes that shape planets, stars, galaxies and the evolution of the universe.
  5. Apply the physical laws of light and gravity to stars, galaxies, and planetary systems.
     

Goals for the 200-300-Level Curriculum:
 

  1. Apply an astronomer’s toolkit, based on the properties of light, matter and gravity, to understand the life stories of planetary worlds, planetary systems, stars, galaxies, and the origin and fate of the universe.
  2. Collaborate with peers on research projects that address scientific and technical problems using experiments, computer models, and analysis.
  3. Plan, design, organize, carry out and document hands-on observations with modern instrumentation.
  4. Identify, formulate, and solve tractable scientific and technical problems.
  5. Interpret astronomical data and observations, using physical and mathematical models.
  6. Read and critically evaluate primary scientific literature.
  7. Synthesize new hypotheses from an integrated appreciation of observations and physical theories.
  8. Communicate technical knowledge through effective scientific writing and oral presentations.

     

Current Academic Year Course Offerings: