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University of Wisconsin Astronomy

Universities / August 10, 2015

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Professors Barger, Bershady, Gallagher, Heinz, Lazarian, Mathieu, Stanimirovic, Wilcots, Zweibel; Associate Professor Townsend; Assistant Professors D'Onghia, Tremonti

Astronomy, the oldest of the sciences, for the last several decades has been one of the most exciting fields of modern scientific research. New discoveries concerning the solar system, stars, galaxies, and the origin of the universe continue to be made by both ground and space telescopes. To understand and pursue modern astronomy, one must have a solid background in physics and mathematics as well as in astronomy.

The astronomy–physics major, administered by the Department of Astronomy, provides undergraduates the opportunity to appreciate our current understanding of the astronomical universe, while developing the necessary physics and math background. Students who intend to continue astronomy in a graduate program are strongly encouraged to do a Senior Thesis (Astro 681/682 (honors) or Astro 691/692). The experiences of actual research and of writing a major paper develop both technical and writing skills.

Requirements for the Major

The major requires a minimum of 34 credits in the field of specialization, with at least 6 of these credits in astronomy and at least 28 credits in physics. Before declaring the major, students must complete the first two of the three intro sequence physics classes: Physics 247, 248, and 249 (recommended sequence), or 207, 208, and 241, or Physics 201, 202, 205. We encourage students to declare their major as early as possible, and no later than the semester before graduation. In addition, the specific course requirements for the major are (these also count toward the 15 credits of upper-level courses as required by the College of Letters & Science):


At least two of the following (but note that 310 is a prerequisite for 330, 335, and 500):

310 Stellar Astrophysics, 3 cr
320 The Interstellar Medium, 3 cr
330 Galaxies and Cosmology, 3 cr
335 Cosmology, 3 cr
340 Solar System Astronomy, 3 cr
500 Techniques of Modern Observational Astrophysics, 3 cr

Astronomy 103 and 104 are not required for majors.


247–248–249 A Modern Introduction to Physics (or 201–202–205; or 207–208–241) 14 cr
311 Mechanics, 3 cr
322 Electromagnetic Fields, 3 cr
415 Thermal Physics, 3 cr
448 Atomic and Quantum Physics, 3 cr
449 Atomic and Quantum Physics, 3 cr

Source: pubs.wisc.edu