Searching for extrasolar planets, observing galaxies to study how they form and evolve, modeling nuclear reactions in stellar explosions and collisions, contemplating the origin and fate of the Universe — Union College astronomy is all of this and more.
There is no better place to pursue astronomy than Union College. Here, your physics and astronomy classes will be small and personal, with labs taught by full-time faculty rather than by graduate students, and instruction that is truly characterized by individual attention. The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and a Bachelor of Arts in astronomy, as well as minors in physics, astrophysics and astronomy.
Our state-of-the-art equipment is comparable to what might be found at larger institutions. We have a 20-inch optical telescope equipped with CCD cameras and a spectrograph and a 7.5-foot radio telescope – both used by students. Four of our faculty members pursue astrophysics research, with specialties in galaxy evolution, active galactic nuclei, star formation and stellar nucleosynthesis.
Astronomy students enjoy the opportunity to work with professors on cutting edge research funded by Department of Energy and National Science Foundation research grants.
Some of the best education a young scientist can obtain occurs outside the classroom. The Department of Physics and Astronomy provides a variety of extracurricular opportunities with this in mind. Independent research with a faculty colleague is required for the degree in physics or astronomy, and many of our majors go well beyond the minimum requirements, spending summers at Union or at observatories or national laboratories doing research. The results of these student research projects have been presented at national and international conferences, and in student-coauthored articles for scientific journals.