Undergraduate Studies | Department of Astronomy Cornell Arts & Sciences

Astronomy Major Overview

The Astronomy Major at Cornell University is designed to be flexible so that it can be customized to the needs of each student. There is a common core hardening of courses followed by two assiduity paths :
1) Astrophysics Concentration is designed for those who intend to go on to graduate school in the physical sciences such as Astronomy, Physics, or Engineering .
2) General Astronomy Concentration is intended for students who do not plan on research careers in astronomy, but may have more broad cerebral interests, and are interested in relate career paths, such as education or public outreach. The flexibility offered by the General Astronomy Concentration make it suitable to be elected as second major by a broad group of students .
TO APPLY for an Astronomy Major make an appointee to visit Professor Gordon Stacey, Director of Undergraduate Studies ( astronomydus @ astro.cornell.edu ).

Astronomy Major Core Requirements

The Astronomy Major consists of six core courses in Physics and Mathematics and a testing ground naturally in Astronomy that are required for every concentration ( 27-28 credits sum ), plus extra courses specifically called out to meet the needs of each individual concentration. To enter the major, a student must have completed at least two Physics, and two Mathematics core courses as listed below with a GPA of at least 2.7. To count towards the major, the minimal grad for any ask class is C-. The major is normally entered into after reference with the Director of Undergraduate Studies ( DUS ) in astronomy during the scholar ’ s fourth semester of bring at Cornell. The DUS and student together will besides select a desirable staff adviser in the Field of Astronomy at this meter. The command core courses are :
Three semesters of Physics including :

             PHYS 1112 (4 credit hours) Physics I:  Mechanics and Heat
      or PHYS 1116 (4) Physics I:  Mechanics and Special Relativity
  PHYS 2213 (4) Physics II:  Electromagnetism
      or PHYS 2217 (4) Physics II:  Electricity and Magnetism
  PHYS 2214 (4)   Physics III: Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics
      or PHYS 2218 (4)    Physics III:  Waves and Thermal Physics

Three Semesters of Mathematics including :

           MATH 1910 (4)  Calculus for Engineers
      or MATH 1120 (4)  Calculus II
      or MATH 1220 (4) Theoretical Calculus II
  MATH 1920 (4)  Multivariable Calculus for Engineers
       or MATH 2220 (4)  Multivariable Calculus
       or MATH 2240 (4)  Theoretical Linear Algebra and Calculus     
  MATH 2930 (4) Differential Equations for Engineers
       or MATH 4710 (4)   Basic Probability
       or ASTRO 3340 (4) Symbolic and Numerical Computing

One Laboratory Course in Astronomy chosen from ( required to finish, but not enter the major ) :

              ASTRO 4410 (4)   Multiwavelength Astronomical Techniques
      or ASTRO 3310 (3)            Planetary Image Processing
      or ASTRO 3334 (3) Data Analysis and Research Techniques in Astronomy

For those pursuing an Astrophysics Concentration, ASTRO 4410 is required.

In addition to these kernel requirements, each Astronomy Major must complete a Concentration in either Astrophysics or General Astronomy, which is an extra set of 9-10 courses concentrated in areas relevant to their future career goals .

Astrophysics Concentration

The Astrophysics Concentration is designed for those who intend to go on to graduate school in the physical sciences such as Astronomy, Physics, or Engineering. To enter the Astrophysics Concentration, the scholar must normally have a GPA better than 3.2 in the Astronomy Major Core Courses. The Astrophysics Concentration requires the follow extra 10 courses ( 39 credit hours total ) :
Two Semesters of Advanced Astrophysics selected from two of the three courses in the ASTRO 4431, 4432, 4433 sequence :

              ASTRO 4431 (4)   Physics of Stars, Neutron Stars, and Black Holes
      or ASTRO 4432 (4            Evolution of Galaxies
      or ASTRO 4433 (4) Introduction to Cosmology

Five Semesters of Physics including :

           PHYS 3316 (3)           Basics of Quantum Mechanics
  PHYS 3318 (4) Analytical Mechanics
  PHYS 3327 (4) Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
  PHYS 4230 (4) Statistical Thermodynamics
     or AEP 4230 (4)   Statistical Thermodynamics
  PHYS 4433 (4)    Intermediate Quantum Mechanics

Three Semesters of Mathematics including :

             MATH 2940 (4)                 Linear Algebra for Engineers
      or MATH 2210 (4)  Linear Algebra
      or MATH 2230 (4) Theoretical Linear Algebra and Calculus
  AEP 3200 (4, Spring)  Introductory Mathematical Physics
       or AEP 4200 (4, Fall)  Intermediate Mathematical Physics

Research Experience:
It is highly recommend that the student with an Astrophysics assiduity have at least one semester or one summer inquiry know under the guidance of a staff extremity in the Astronomy Field .
Course/Credit Count. The requirements for the Astronomy Major with an Astrophysics concentration are consequently 16 courses totaling 66-67 credit hours.

General Astronomy Concentration

The General Astronomy Concentration is designed for students who may not plan on a research career in astronomy, but plan on careers in associate fields such as education, or populace outreach. The tractability offered by the General Astronomy Concentration make it suitable to be elected as a second major by a broad group of students. The General Astronomy Concentration requires five extra courses in Astronomy ( 17-18 credits entire ), plus an extra 15 credits in an external Concentration ( four to five courses ) as explicated below .
Five Semesters of Astronomy including ASTRO 2211 ( Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology ) and ASTRO 2212 ( The Solar System : Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds ), two of the three courses in the ASTRO 3301, 3302, 3303 sequence, and one extra astronomy class selected from below :
ASTRO 2290 (4) Relativity and Astrophysics
ASTRO 2299 (4) Search for Life in the universe
ASTRO 3301 (3) Exoplanets and Planetary Systems
    ASTRO 3302 (3)  The Life of Stars : From Birth to Death
ASTRO 3303 (3) Galaxies Across Cosmic Time
ASTRO 4434 (4) Evolution of the Planets
ASTRO 4445 (4) Introduction to General Relativity
ASTRO 4490 (4) Senior Seminar Critical Thinking
early Astronomy courses may qualify with prior blessing of the DUS .
Fifteen Credit Hours in Complementary Area. Complementary Areas can be selected from a broad assortment of disciplines, but the courses selected must be cohesive, and complement the core requirements. For exemplar, those concerned in exobiology might chose a Complementary Area of biological sciences, those matter to in planetal science might pick Earth and Atmospheric Science, those concern in teaching at the high-school degree might pick education, and those concerned in public policy might pick Government, Economics, or Science and Technology Studies. It is up to the scholar, in reference with their faculty adviser to design the Complementary Area. At least eight of the Complementary Area credits must be in courses numbered above 3000. complementary Areas are normally mapped out by the end of their sophomore year .
Course/Credit Count. The requirements for the Astronomy Major with a General Astronomy Concentration are therefore 16-17 courses ( 12 of which are in Astronomy, Physics and Mathematics ) totaling 59-61 credit hours ( 44-46 of which are in Astronomy, Physics, and Mathematics ) .

Honors
A student may be granted honors in Astronomy upon the recommendation of the Astronomy Advisors Committee of the Astronomy staff. distinctive requirements for graduating with honors are a minimal GPA of 3.5 over the past four semesters and grades of A– or better in :

( Astrophysics Concentration ) ASTRO 4410, ASTRO 4431, and ASTRO 4432 or ASTRO 4433
or
( General Astronomy Concentration ) ASTRO 4410, ASTRO 3301, ASTRO 3302, ASTRO 3303

Double Majors
It is expected that some Astronomy majors, specially those with General Astronomy Concentrations will have duplicate majors, either wholly discrete from Astronomy, or ones that include courses from their complementary Area. In these cases, their complementary Area credits can be counted for both majors as allowed by the moment major. For exemplar, students may double major in Astronomy and Mathematics with the Astronomy Core MATH courses counted towards both majors. however, it is not allowed to double major in Astronomy with an Astrophysics Concentration, and Physics ascribable to across-the-board overlap of requirements .

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