Natural Sciences: Astronomy, 2012-13
The astronomy department's curriculum is centered on studying the phenomena of the extraterrestrial Universe and on understanding them in terms of the fundamental principles of physics. We emphasize student research with faculty members, and upper–level courses contain substantial project- and/or research-based investigation. Our department offers two majors: astronomy or astrophysics. Both majors provide substantial training in quantitative reasoning and independent thinking through work in and out of the classroom. The astronomy major is appropriate for students who desire an in-depth education in astronomy that they can apply to a wide-range of career trajectories, but who do not necessarily intend to pursue graduate study in astronomy. The astrophysics major is appropriate for students who wish to pursue the study of astronomy with additional attention to the physical principles that underlie astrophysical phenomena. The depth of the physics training required for a degree in astrophysics prepares students who wish to pursue a career in astronomy or astrophysics, or to pursue graduate study in astronomy or astrophysics. The department also offers a minor in astronomy.
Although a variety of pathways can lead to a major in the department, we advise prospective astronomy or astrophysics majors to study physics (PHYS 105 and 106, or 101 and 102, or Bryn Mawr equivalents) beginning in their first year, and to enroll in ASTR 205/206 and PHYS 213/214 in their sophomore year. It is also recommended to take ASTR/PHYS 152 in the second semester of the first year.
The department offers three courses: ASTR 101a, ASTR 112, and ASTR 114b, which students can take with no prerequisites or prior experience in astronomy. The department also offers a half-credit course, ASTR/PHYS 152, intended for first-year students who are considering a physical science major and wish to study some of the most recent developments in astrophysics.
Students may major in either astronomy or astrophysics, but not both. Astrophysics majors may not double major in either physics or astronomy, nor can they minor in either physics or astronomy. Astronomy majors may pursue a double major or a minor in physics. A concentration in scientific computing is available for astronomy and astrophysics majors. The department coordinator for this concentration is Beth Willman.
Bettye and Howard Marshall Professor of Natural Sciences R. Bruce Partridge, emeritus
John Farnum Professor of Astronomy Stephen P. Boughn, chair
Assistant Professor of Astronomy Beth Willman
- PHYS 105 (or 101), PHYS 106 (or 102), PHYS 213 and PHYS 214.
- Two mathematics courses; students can use Mathematics 121 and all 200–level or higher mathematics courses to satisfy this requirement.
- ASTR 205, ASTR 206 and four 300-level astronomy courses, one of which may be replaced by an upper-level physics course.
- ASTR 404, which may be replaced by approved independent research either at Haverford or elsewhere.
- Written comprehensive examinations.
Majors may substitute Bryn Mawr equivalents for the non-astronomy courses. ASTR/PHYS 152 is recommended but not required.
- PHYS 105 (or 101), PHYS 106 (or 102), PHYS 213, PHYS 214 and PHYS 211 (usually taken concurrently with Physics 213)
- Two mathematics courses. Students can use MATH 121 and all 200 level or higher mathematics courses to satisfy this requirement.
- ASTR 205, ASTR 206, and any two 300 level astronomy courses.
- PHYS 302, 303 and 309.
- The Senior Seminar, PHYS 399, including a talk and senior thesis on research conducted by the student. Students can undertake this research in a 400-level research course with any member of the Physics or Astronomy departments or by doing extracurricular research at Haverford or elsewhere, e.g., an approved summer research internship at another institution. The thesis is to be written under the supervision of both the research advisor and a Haverford advisor (if the research advisor is not a Haverford faculty member).
Majors may substitute Bryn Mawr equivalents for the non-astronomy courses. ASTR/PHYS 152 and PHYS 308 are recommended but not required.
- PHYS 105 (or 101); PHYS 106 (or 102).
- ASTR 205; ASTR 206; one 300–level astronomy course.
ASTR/PHYS 152 is recommended but not required.
All astronomy and astrophysics majors are regarded as candidates for Honors. For both majors, the award of Honors is made in part on the basis of superior work in the departmental courses and in certain related courses. For astronomy majors, the award of Honors is additionally based on performance on the comprehensive examinations, with consideration for independent research. For astrophysics majors, the award of Honors is additionally based on the senior thesis and talk.
101 Astronomical Ideas NA/QU
This course covers the fundamental concepts and observations of modern astronomy, such as the properties of planets, the birth and death of stars, and the properties and evolution of the Universe. Not intended for students majoring in the physical sciences.
112 Survey of the Cosmos NA/QU
This course explores properties and evolution of the Universe and of large systems within it. It examines the qualitative aspects of general relativity, including black holes and of mathematical models for the geometry of the Universe, along with the history of the Universe from its early exponential expansion to the formation of galaxies. The courses stresses the role of observations in refining modern scientific understanding of the structure and evolution of the Universe. The approach is quantitative, but any mathematics beyond straightforward algebra is taught as the class proceeds. No prerequisites but ASTR 101 is useful. Typically offered in alternate years.
114 Planetary Astronomy NA
This is a survey of the overall structure of the Solar System, the laws governing the motions of the planets and the evolution of the Solar System. Next, we study general processes affecting the surface properties of planets. This takes us to a detailed treatment of the properties of several planets. We end by studying the (surprising) properties of planets found in other stellar systems. Typically offered in alternate years.
152 Freshman Seminar in Astrophysics NA (Cross-listed in Physics)
This half-credit course is intended for prospective physical science majors with an interest in recent developments in astrophysics. The course views topics in modern astrophysics in the context of underlying physical principles. Topics include black holes, quasars, neutron stars, supernovae, dark matter, the Big Bang and Einstein's relativity theories. Prerequisite: PHYS 101a or 105a and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 102b or 106b (or Bryn Mawr equivalents). Typically offered every Spring.
205 Introduction to Astrophysics I NA
This general introduction to astronomy includes: the structure and evolution of stars; the properties and evolution of the solar system, including planetary surfaces and atmospheres; exoplanets; and observational projects using the Strawbridge Observatory telescopes. Prerequisite: PHYS 105 and 106; MATH 114 or equivalent. Typically offered every Fall.
206 Introduction to Astrophysics II NA
This is an introduction to the study of: the structure and formation of the Milky Way galaxy, the interstellar medium, the properties of galaxies and their nuclei and cosmology including the Hot Big Bang model. Prerequisite: ASTR 205a and MATH 114b or equivalent, or consent of instructor. Typically offered every Spring.
341 Advanced Topics: Observational Astronomy NA
S. Boughn/B. Willman
Prerequisite: ASTR 205. Typically offered in alternate years.
342 Advanced Topics: Modern Galactic Astronomy NA
Prerequisite: ASTR 205 and 206. Typically offered in alternate years.
343 Advanced Topics: Stellar Structure and Evolution NA
This course surveys the theory of the structure of stellar interiors and atmospheres and the theory of star formation and stellar evolution, including compact stellar remnants. Prerequisite: ASTR 205 and PHYS 214. Typically offered in alternate years.
344 Advanced Topics: Cosmology NA
This course explores the study of the origin, evolution and large-scale structure of the Universe (Big Bang Theory). It includes a review of the relevant observational evidence. Prerequisite: ASTR 206b. Typically offered in alternate years.
404 Research in Astrophysics NA
S. Boughn/B. Willman
This course is intended for those students who choose to complete an independent research project in astrophysics under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite: The instructor’s consent.
480 Independent Study NA
This course is intended for students who want to pursue some topic of study that is not currently offered in the curriculum. To enroll, a student must have a faculty sponsor. Prerequisite: ASTR 206.