Undergraduate Studies

Basics of the program

We offer an Astronomy Specialization within the regular Physics BS program. Details can be found on pp. 287-289 of the Undergraduate Catalog. We also offer a minor in Astronomy; details on that can be found on page 360 of the Undergraduate Catalog.

The Undergraduate Catalog also lists all of the undergraduate courses on pages 458 and 459. Please note that as our program has evolved, we have added some courses, redesigned others, and completely dropped (for the time being) the offering of a few more. Therefore it is quite important for students to read this webpage to find out what courses are actually happening.


About the BS program

Section 4.5 on page 288 of the Undergraduate Catalog describes the specific requirements of the Astronomy Specialization. Typically, a student will take AST 2002, AST 4700, AST 4762, and at least two more AST courses to satisfy the requirements. The options for those additional AST courses currently are AST 3211, AST 3402, AST 4142, and AST 4152. One could take all four of those, and then satisfy all the requirements listed in Section 4.5.

All students in the Physics BS program must take 3 credits of “PHY 4912 Directed Independent Research (in area of specialization).” Thus, for Astronomy Specialization students, this means astronomy or planetary science research. This is an outstanding opportunity to gain valuable research experience and be part of cutting-edge astronomy. Many of the faculty members in the Planetary Sciences group have openings for interested and capable undergraduate students. The Office of Undergraduate Research and the Burnett Honors College list some resources for getting involved in research, including funding opportunities.


About courses

Some course descriptions are available on our website. But please read through the following information on undergraduate course offerings.

  • AST 2002 and AST 2002H are offered every fall and spring semester. AST 2002 is often offered in the summer semester as well.
  • AST 2002L is being resurrected and is offered for the first time in many years in Fall 2017. It may be offered in future fall semesters after that but that is not yet for sure.
  • AST 2037 is offered occasionally, most recently in Spring 2017 and likely in Spring 2018. It is offered online. It may become an annual offering, but that is not yet for sure.
  • AST 3110 is not currently offered; take AST 4152 instead. It may be resurrected in the future but with an unknown timetable.
  • AST 3211 and AST 3402 are offered quite regularly in even springs and odd falls, respectively.
  • AST 3722 is not currently offered; take AST 4700 instead.
  • AST 4142, AST 4152, AST 4700, and AST 4762 are offered quite regularly (see schedule below). AST 5145, AST 5154, AST 5263, and AST 5765 are the graduate versions of those four courses.
  • AST 5165 is a graduate level course with no explicit undergraduate version. The course is offered regularly and sufficiently advanced undergraduates can take it after consulting with the instructor.
  • AST 5334 is also a graduate level course with no explicit undergraduate version. It is offered occasionally, but with no current timetable; if at least 5 students request to take it in the same semester, it might then be offered.
  • Some courses existed in earlier versions of the Undergraduate Catalog (e.g. AST 2720 and AST 4501) but for the time being they have been dropped from the catalog entirely.
  • Some courses (e.g., AST 4142) may have pre-requisites that include some of the above-mentioned discontinued courses (e.g., AST 3110). If that is the case, usually the substituted course (e.g., AST 4152) will be sufficient. If you have questions, contact the instructor of the course you wish to take.

In addition to these AST courses, our group offers some courses in MET and GLY.

  • MET 2104 is offered occasionally, but is more frequently offered as a specific climate-oriented section of PSC 1121. Usually, the section of PSC 1121 is the one taught by Prof. Britt.
  • GLY 2038 is offered in fall semesters. See page 493 of the Undergraduate Catalog.

 


Some flexible options

These options might be available by petition.

1. Both AST 4762 and AST 4700 are lab classes.  Students may be able to petition to use one or both to substitute for PHY 4803L. However please check with all the instructors and with the department ahead of time.

2. Generally you can use any selection of AST non-lab courses at the 3000 level or above, including graduate classes, for the “Select from upper division AST courses” requirement in the Astronomy Specialization.  Directed Independent Study in astronomy may be used for this requirement if the class is set up as a lecture or independent readings on a coherent and general topic, and not, for example, as a research class.  This is decided on a case-by-case basis, so get approval before starting the class.  Directed Independent Research may not be used for the “Select from upper division AST courses” requirement.


Course sequence

We try to offer upper-level undergraduate courses on a two-year cycle, but changes do occur.

  • Even Springs (’18, ’20, ’22…)
    • AST 3211 Stellar Astrophysics
    • AST 4700 Experimental Methods in Astronomy (or AST 5263, the graduate version)
    • AST 5165 Planetary Atmospheres
  • Even Falls (’18, ’20, ’22…)
    • AST 4142 Asteroids Comets Meteorites (or AST 5145, the graduate version)
    • AST 4762 Astronomical Data Analysis (or AST 5765, the graduate version)
  • Odd Springs (’17, ’19, ’21,…)
    • AST 4152 Planetary Geophysics (or AST 5154, the graduate version)
  • Odd Falls (’17, ’19, ’21,…)
    • AST 3402 Galaxies and Cosmology
    • AST 4762 Astronomical Data Analysis (or AST 5765, the graduate version)
    • AST 6112 Origins and Evolution of Planetary Systems

 


Forthcoming course schedule

We will add electives as we confirm that they will be offered. Undergraduates should contact the instructor before registering for any graduate-level (5000-level) course.

  • Fall 2017 — an odd-numbered fall
    • AST 2002 and 2002H — Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 3402 — Galaxies and Cosmology
    • AST 4762 — Astronomical Data Analysis (undergrad version of AST 5765)
    • AST 5765 — Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis (grad version of AST 4762)
    • AST 6112 — Origins of Planetary Systems
  • Spring 2018 — an even-numbered spring
    • AST 2002 and 2002H — Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 3211 — Stellar Astrophysics
    • AST 4700 — Experimental Methods in Astronomy (undergrad version of AST 5263)
    • AST 5165 — Planetary Atmospheres
    • AST 5263 — Advanced Observational Astronomy (grad version of AST 4700)
    • AST 6156 — Special Topics in Planetary Science: Sample Return
  • Fall 2018 — an even-numbered fall
    • AST 2002 and 2002H — Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 2002L — Astronomy Lab
    • AST 4142 — Asteroids Comets Meteorites (undergrad version of AST 5145)
    • AST 4762 — Astronomical Data Analysis (undergrad version of AST 5765)
    • AST 5145 — Advanced Asteroids Comets Meteorites (grad version of AST 4142)
    • AST 5765 — Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis (grad version of AST 4762)
  • Spring 2019 — an odd-numbered spring
    • AST 2002 and 2002H — Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 3110 — Solar System Astronomy (tentative)
    • AST 4152 — Planetary Geophysics (undergrad version of AST 5154)
    • AST 5154 — Advances Planetary Geophysics (grad version of AST 4152)
    • AST 5937 — Special Topics: Astrobiology (tentative)