Majors and Minors in Astronomy

We offer a BS in Astronomy as well as a minor.  Astronomy is the oldest science. Since astronomy studies how the universe works, it is a sub-specialty of physics.  So in addition to astronomy, majors take upper-level courses in physics and mathematics. For the astronomy major we offer courses in general astronomy and astrophysics, the solar system, and observational techniques. Our students gain practical teaching experience as laboratory assistants and tutors. Our diverse faculty specializes in solar system astronomy, interstellar medium, stellar evolution, active galaxies, and cosmology.

CHECKLIST for Astronomy Majors


 

What can you do with a degree in Astronomy?

Graduates of the astronomy program at Valdosta State University have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in astronomy, physics, and atmospheric physics. Others have embarked on rewarding careers in aerospace and related industry or have become planetarium directors or research assistants at national observatories. Others have specialized in science teaching for high school and middle school. Careers open to people with a Bachelor of Science degree in astronomy include:

  • science or technical writer
  • data analyst (for NSA, CIA, NASA)
  • observatory scheduler
  • telescope operator at national observatories
  • data quality specialist for large space-based-observatory ground facilities
  • aerospace engineers
  • Naval or Air Force Officer
  • planetarium program director
  • NASA employee


 

VSU's Astronomy Facilities



 

Courses We Offer in Astronomy

Core Courses:

ASTR 1000 - Introduction to the Universe - A survey course of general astronomy, including celestial motion, the solar system, stars, galaxies, origin and fate of the Universe.

ASTR 1010K and 1020K - Astronomy of the Solar System (1010) and Stars and Galaxies (1020) - introductory courses with a lab about the basic physics of astronomical topics, such as: celestial motion, light, gravity, and the solar system (in I) and stars, stellar evolution.

ASTR 2010 - Tools of Astronomy - An introduction to observational techniques for the beginning astronomy major. Completion of this course will enable the student to use the campus observatory without direct supervision. The student will be given instruction in use of the observatory and its associated equipment. Includes laboratory safety, research methods, explanation of resources (library and internet), and an outline of the discipline.



Courses for the Major:

ASTR 1000 - Introduction to the Universe - A survey course of general astronomy, including celestial motion, the solar system, stars, galaxies, origin and fate of the Universe.

ASTR 1010K and 1020K - Astronomy of the Solar System (1010) and Stars and Galaxies (1020) - Introductory courses with a lab about the basic physics of astronomical topics, such as: celestial motion, light, gravity, and the solar system (in I) and stars, stellar evolution.

ASTR 2010 - Tools of Astronomy - An introduction to observational techniques for the beginning astronomy major. Completion of this course will enable the student to use the campus observatory without direct supervision. The student will be given instruction in use of the observatory and its associated equipment. Includes laboratory safety, research methods, explanation of resources (library and internet), and an outline of the discipline.

ASTR 3400- Planetary Geology - A study of the geology of the terrestrial planets and solid-surface moons, asteroids, comets, and metorites. The course will focus on comparative planetary geology, with emphasis on geologic processes on the surface, planetary interiors, and data collection methods such as remote sensing and image analysis.

ASTR 3800 - Astrobiology - The study of the origin of life on Earth and techniques to find life elsewhere in the Universe. This is the only upper-level course that does not require calculus-based physics.  (see catalog)

ASTR 4101 - Observational Techniques - A laboratory course in which you study many aspects of instrumental and observational astronomy, including optics, spectroscopy, photography, photometry, electronics, CCDs, as well as modeling and analysis of data.

ASTR 4400- Physics of the Solar System - Celestial mechanics; physical features of the sun, planets, moons, and other material in the solar system.

ASTR 4410 - Astrophysics - In modern times, there is no difference between astronomy and astrophysics. Old time astronomy dealt mostly with astrometry and planetary motion. Modern astronomy,as a subspecialty of physics, is much broader. In this course you will be introduced to radiative transfer, stellar interiors and atmospheres, stellar evolution, gaseous nebulae and cosmology. 

ASTR 4800 - Internship in Astronomy -Active participation in research in astronomy, or in some field of science closely allied with astronomy, or work with a planetarium or museum which involves planetarium operations and programs. A daily log of activities, a report on the work done, and a research paper relating the work done to the field of astronomy are required.

ASTR 4900 - Special Topics in Astronomy - Topics to be assigned by the instructor; may be taken more than once if topics are different; up to a total of 6 credit hours.

ASTR 4950 - Directed Study in Astronomy - Study in area or subject not normally found in established courses offered by the department; may also allow students to explore in more detail and/or depth an area or subject covered by the department in astronomy; up to a maximum of 6 credit hours.