Academics: Astronomy Courses


The Physics Department offers a number of Astronomy courses that can satisfy your curiosity to know more about the Universe, and also prepare you for a career in Astronomy or Space Science.

Typically, students interested in pursuing such a career in will major in Physics, with an emphasis in Astronomy. Click here to learn more about this option.

A combination of these three courses, with the first five quarters of the Physics sequence, can also constitute a Physics/Astronomy minor. This minor can enhance a technical degree (such as Engineering), making a student more attractive to employers such as JPL and NASA. Click here to learn more about this option.

Upper Division Courses

  • PHY 424: Introduction to Astrophysics (4)
    Basic astrophysical data, stellar atmospheres and spectra, stellar structure and evolution, galactic structure and interstellar matter, galaxies and cosmology.
  • PHY 425: Space Physics (4)
    Planetary motions, gravitation, celestial mechanics, interplanetary space missions, techniques of space borne planetary observation, planetary physics.
  • PHY 426: Relativity, Gravity and Black Holes (4)
    Review of special relativity, principle of equivalence, general theory of relativity, black holes, and cosmological models.

GE Course

  • PHY 303: The Universe in Ten Weeks (4)
    This course investigates answers to questions such as: What is the nature of the cosmos? How did the universe begin? What are the smallest constituents of the universe and what are their properties? etc., through a historical, sociological, and scientific overview of our present understanding of the universe. The emphasis is on the modern description of the beginning of the universe, its constitution, and its evolution, as discovered and interpreted by astronomers and chemists, mathematicians and physicists. 4 lectures. GE Synthesis course for Subarea B5.

    This course is not appropriate for students wishing to pursue a career in Astronomy or Space Science. Such students should take PHY 424 instead.