Physics and Astronomy Department

Astronomy Sample Schedules

The following sample schedules indicate the approximate order of courses to complete a degree in Astronomy for a student beginning the major in his or her first year. As many Union students elect to spend a term abroad, we present two versions of the schedule, one for a student taking a term abroad in the Fall of senior year and the other for a student who is on campus for all four years. We also present a schedule for a Physics major with an Astrophysics minor, which is the recommended course for students interested in graduate study in astronomy or astrophysics.

Sample Schedule without Term Abroad

Year Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
First Year:
  • Physics 100: First-Year Seminar
  • Astronomy 51: Introduction to Astronomy
  • Math 110: Calculus I
  • Physics 120: Matter in Motion
  • Math 112: Calculus II
  • First-Year Preceptorial (CC)
  • Physics 121: Principles of Electromagnetics
  • Free Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
Second Year:
  • Physics 123: Heat and Light
  • Astronomy 230: Observational Astronomy
  • Sophomore Research Seminar (CC)
  • Physics 122: Relativity, Quantum, and Applications
  • Free Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Astronomy 50 or 105: The Solar System
  • Math Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
Third Year:
  • Astronomy 240: Radio Astronomy
  • Free Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Astronomy 210: Galaxies
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Free Elective
  • Science Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Free Elective
Fourth Year:
  • Physics 490: Senior Thesis Research
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Physics 491: Senior Thesis Research
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 200: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

Sample Schedule with Term Abroad

Year Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
First Year:
  • Physics 100: First-Year Seminar
  • Math 113: AP Calculus: First-Year Seminar
  • Astronomy 51: Introduction to Astronomy
  • Biology/Astronomy 58: Astrobiology
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • First-Year Preceptorial (CC)
  • Physics 110: Classical and Modern Physics for Life Sciences I
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Common Curriculum Class
Second Year:
  • Geology 110: Physical Geology
  • Physics 111: Classical and Modern Physics for Life Sciences II
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Geology 120: The Earth and Life Through Time
  • Sophomore Reseach Seminar (CC)
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Astronomy 50 or 105: The Solar System
  • Math Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
Third Year:
  • Astronomy 230: Observational Astronomy (WAC)
  • Free Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Astronomy 290: Astronomy Practicum
  • Astronomy 52: Relativity, Black Holes, and Quasars
  • Astronomy 210: Galaxies
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 291: Astronomy Practicum
  • Science Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 292: Astronomy Practicum
Fourth Year:
  • Term Abroad Class (LCC)
  • Term Abroad Class (LCC)
  • Term Abroad Class
  • Physics 493: Senior Writing Project (WS)
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 200: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

Notes: These schedules assume the maximum number of Common Curriculum (CC) courses, with no “double-counting” or transfers to meet requirements, The schedule with the term abroad assumes that classes taken on the term abroad count toward the “Linguistic and Cultural Competency” (LCC) requirement. Often Common Curriculum courses will satisfy more than one requirement (for example, a single course might both fulfill part of the “Linguistic and Cultural Competency” LCC requirement and the "Literature" HUL requirement). Five Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) courses are required; astronomy courses that fulfill the WAC requirement are indicated.

More courses are listed than the major requires. Note that even under these conservative assumptions, it is possible to complete a strong Astronomy major with a number of free electives. These electives may easily be combined with Common Curriculum courses or other electives to allow a student to complete a second major or a minor.

The first-year schedule with the Term Abroad assumes that students enter the Astronomy major with some Advanced Placement credit in math, placing them in Math 113. The schedule without the Term Abroad assumes placement in Math 110. The Math department has several introductory tracks, depending on the level of preparation students have received in high school. Students who have not taken Advanced Placement tests usually take Math 110 and Math 112 instead of Math 113; students with exceptionally strong math backgrounds may skip Math 113, and start with Math 115. All of these variants are easily accommodated within the Astronomy curriculum.

One class is listed as “Science Elective” although students fulfilling the major requirement with two geology courses are not required to take additional outside science. We encourage students to take outside science classes as early as possible, as they may lead students to pursue double majors or interdisciplinary majors.

A “Math Elective” is included in the schedule We strongly recommend that students who may be interested in graduate study in astronomy take math courses beyond those required for the major.

Sample Schedule for Physics Major and Astrophysics Minor

Year Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
First Year:
  • Physics 100: First-Year Seminar
  • Math 113: AP Calculus: First-Year Seminar
  • Astronomy 51: Introduction to Astronomy
  • Physics 120: Matter in Motion
  • Math 115: Calculus III: Differential Vector Calculus and Matrix Theory
  • First-Year Preceptorial (CC)
  • Physics 121: Principles of Electromagnetics
  • Math 117: Calculus IV: Integral Vector Calculus
  • Common Curriculum Class
Second Year:
  • Physics 123: Heat and Light (WAC)
  • Astronomy 230: Observational Astronomy (WAC)
  • Sophomore Research Seminar (CC)
  • Physics 122: Relativity, Quantum, and Applications
  • Science Elective
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Physics 230: Intermediate Classical Mechanics
  • Astronomy 200: Stellar Structure and Evolution
  • Common Curriculum Class
Third Year:
  • Physics 220: Intermediate Modern Physics
  • Astronomy 240: Radio Astronomy
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Physics 270: Intermediate Electromagnetism
  • Astronomy 210: Galaxies
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Physics 300: Methods of Modern Experimental Physics (WAC)
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Science Elective
Fourth Year:
  • Physics 490: Senior Thesis Research (WS)
  • Physics 310: Advanced Topics in Physics
  • Free Elective
  • Physics 491: Senior Thesis Research
  • Common Curriculum Class
  • Free Elective
  • Astronomy 220: Cosmology and General Relativity
  • Free Elective
  • Free Elective

Notes: This schedule assumes the maximum number of Common Curriculum courses, with no “double-counting” to meet requirements. Often Common Curriculum courses will satisfy more than one requirement (for example, a single course might both fulfill part of the “Linguistic and Cultural Competency” LCC requirement and the "Literature" HUL requirement). Five Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) courses are required; physics and astronomycourses that fulfill the WAC requirement are indicated.

Note that even under these conservative assumptions, it is possible to complete a strong Astronomy major with a number of free electives. These electives may easily be combined with general education courses or other electives to allow a student to complete a second major or a minor.

The first-year schedule assumes that students enter the Astronomy major with some Advanced Placement credit in math, placing them in Math 113. The Math department has several introductory tracks, depending on the level of preparation students have received in high school. Students who have not taken Advanced Placement tests may be required to take Math 110 and Math 112 instead of Math 113; students with exceptionally strong math backgrounds may skip Math 113, and start with Math 115. All of these variants are easily accommodated within the Astronomy curriculum.

Two classes are listed as “Science Electives.” Physics majors are required to take two other science classes numbered 100 or above, at least one of which must be taken outside the department. We encourage students to take these classes as early as possible, as they may lead students to pursue double majors or interdisciplinary majors.

Two classes are listed as “Math Electives.” We strongly recommend that students who may be interested in graduate study in physics or astronomy take math courses beyond those required for the major. In particular, students would benefit from courses such as Math 127: Numerical Methods, Math 130: Ordinary Differential Equations, and Math 140: Applied Linear Algebra.