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Searching for extrasolar planets, observing how galaxies form and evolve, modeling nuclear reactions, contemplating the origin of the Universe — Union College astronomy is all of this and more.


(USA Today College Guide 2017)

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.

Research facilities

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.

Special learning opportunities

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.

Meet some of our faculty

Bernhard Kuhn

Rebecca Koopmann

Ph.D., Yale University
Special interests: Galaxy evolution

Jonathan Marr

Jonathan Marr

Lab manager and lecturer
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Special interests: High resolution, radio-wavelength observations of radio galaxies

Judith Lewin

Francis Wilkin

Senior lecturer and observatory manager
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Special interests: Star formation theory, radio and optical interferometry

Andrew Burkett

Heather Watson

Associate Professor
Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic University
Special interests: The processes that contribute to the earliest formation and the dynamic evolution of terrestrial planets

After Union

Astronomy educator, Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Graduate student, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Creative technologist, Primacy

Ph.D. student in astronomy, Yale University

Fulbright researcher, Germany

Ph.D. student in astrobiology, Penn State

Adjunct professor, Schenectady County Community College