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Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016

Astronomy (ASTR)

College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences
1208 Physical Sciences Complex, 301-405-3001
www.astro.umd.edu
astr-grad@deans.umd.edu
Chair: S. Vogel
Director: E. McKenzie
Professors: M. C. Miller, L. D. Deming, D. Hamilton, A. Harris, L. Mundy, R. Mushotzky, K. Papadopoulos, C. Reynolds, D. Richardson, J. Sunshine, S. Veilleux
Associate Professors: A. Bolatto, M. Ricotti
Assistant Professors: M. Boylan-Kolchin, S. Gezari
Instructors: G. Deming
Lecturers: M. Hayes-Gehrke (Senior Lect), A. Peel
Adjunct Professors: S. Cenko (Adjunct Asst Prof), E. Dwek, N. Gehrels (College Park Prof), M. Mumma, E. Ostriker
Professors Emeriti: M. A'Hearn, J. Earl, W. Erickson, J. Harrington, M. Leventhal
Visiting Faculty: D. Neufeld

The Major

The Astronomy Department offers courses leading to a Bachelor of Science in Astronomy as well as a series of courses of general interest to non-majors.  Astronomy majors are given a strong undergraduate preparation in Astronomy, Mathematics, and Physics.  The degree program is designed to prepare students for positions in government and industry laboratories or for graduate work in Astronomy or related fields.  Courses offered by this department may be found under the following acronym:  ASTR.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Department of Astronomy B.S. program educates majors toward achieving an understanding of modern astronomical concepts, applying physics and mathematics to astrophysical situations, and gaining experience in gathering and reducing data using astronomical instrumentation and computational tools. Completion of this program provides the opportunity for majors to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for graduate school or employment after graduation.

  • Identify basic concepts from the many areas of astronomy, including motions in the sky, gravity, electromagnetic radiation, solar system, stars, and galaxies.
  • Develop mathematical skills, acquire physics knowledge, and practice applying these skills and knowledge in astrophysical situations.
  • Use astronomical telescopes/instruments and reduce astronomical data using modern computational methods.
  • Demonstrate advanced level knowledge in several different areas of astronomy.

For further details, see the department's assessment plan: www.astro.umd.edu/academics/astronomyBS.pdf

 

Academic Programs and Departmental Facilities

The Department of Astronomy is a partner in the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA) which operates a millimeter wavelength radio array located near Bishop, California.  The array is the largest and most sensitive array of its type in the northern hemisphere.  The Department is also a full partner in the 4.3m Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT), one of the largest and most technologically advanced telescopes in the continental U.S.  The Department is involved with major space missions, such as NASA's EPOXI mission which visited Comet Hartley 2 in 2010.  Additionally, the Department operates a small observatory on campus which has four fixed telescopes ranging in aperture from 20" to 7" and six portable 8" telescopes.  This facility is used for undergraduate majors' classes and for small-scale research projects, as well as for an Open House Program for the public.  Finally, the Department operates a modern computer cluster for computation-intensive science projects.  Opportunities are available for undergraduates to become involved in research with all of these facilities.

Requirements for the Major

Required Basic Astronomy Courses  (13 credits):

            ASTR120 - Astrophysics I:  The Solar System (3 credits)

            ASTR121 - Astrophysics II:  Stars and Beyond (4 credits)

            ASTR310 - Observational Astronomy (3 credits)

            ASTR320 - Theoretical Astrophysics (3 credits)

Advanced Astronomy Courses (6 credits):

Any two 400 level Astronomy courses are required:

            ASTR410 - Radio Astronomy Techniques (3 credits)

ASTR415 - Computational Astrophysics  (3 credits)

            ASTR421 - Galaxies (3 credits)

            ASTR422 - Cosmology (3 credits)

            ASTR430 -The Solar System  (3 credits)

            ASTR450 - Orbital Dynamics  (3 credits)

            ASTR480 - High Energy Astrophysics (3 credits)

            ASTR498N - Stellar Evolution (3 credits)

            Optional Astronomy Seminars

            ASTR288C - Astronomy Research Techniques (2 credits)

            ASTR288M - Current Events in Astronomy Research (1 credit)

Required Introductory Physics Courses (17 credits)

  PHYS165 - Introduction to Programming for the Physical Sciences (3 credits)

For students with experience with computer programming this course can be replaced by   PHYS474 Computational Physics or ASTR415 Computational Astrophysics.  If students     complete ASTR415 for this requirement, it cannot be counted as an advanced astronomy course (400-level course) requirement.

            PHYS171 - Mechanics and Thermal Physics (3 credits)

            PHYS174 - Laboratory Introduction (1 credit)

            PHYS272 - Fields (3 credits)

            PHYS273 - Waves (3 credits)

            PHYS275 - Experimental Physics I: Mechanics, Heat and Fields (2 credits)

            PHYS276 - Experimental Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism (2 credits)

Also accepted with consent of advisor: PHYS161, 165, 260, 261, 270, 271 (14 credits)

Advanced Physics Courses (13 credits):

            PHYS371 - Modern Physics (3 credits) 

PHYS373 - Mathematical Methods for Physics II (3 credits)
 
PHYS401 - Quantum Mechanics I (4 credits) 
 
PHYS404 - Statistical Thermodynamics (3 credits)
 
Supporting Mathematics/Mathematical Methods Courses (15 credits):
 
MATH140 - Calculus I (4 credits)
 
MATH141 - Calculus II (4 credits)
 
MATH241 - Calculus III (4 credits)
 
PHYS274 - Mathematical Methods for Physics I (3 credits)
Completion of both MATH246 and either 240 or 461 will be accepted in place of PHYS274.
 
Total Credits required for the Astronomy Major = 64 credits
Grades in all of the above required courses must be “C-” or better.

Requirements for the Minor

Astronomy

A minor in Astronomy may be earned by completing the following with grades of "C-" or better.  Beginning with students matriculating in Fall 2012, to be awarded a baccalaureate degree, students must have a minimum "C" (2.0) cumulative grade point average across all courses used to satisfy minor requirements.  An appointment must be made to register for the minor before final 30 credits are taken.  Please contact Department for complete rules and procedures.


  One from: Credits
ASTR100Introduction to Astronomy 3
ASTR101General Astronomy 4
ASTR1--any other  Introductory sequence in Astronomy  
    
 One from:  
ASTR220Collisions in Space - The Threat of Asteroid Impact 3
ASTR230The Science and Fiction of Planetary Systems 3
    
 Three from:  
ASTR300Stars and Stellar Systems 3
ASTR305Astronomy and the Media 3
ASTR330Solar System Astronomy 3
ASTR340Origin of the Universe 3
ASTR380Life in the Universe - Astrobiology 3
ASTR498Special Problems in Astronomy 3
CRSxxOr a course approved by the department  3

Planetary Sciences

The Departments of Astronomy and Geology jointly sponsor a minor program in Planetary Science. Details about this minor and its course requirements are provided in Chapter 8.

Advising

Further information about the program can be obtained by calling the Department of Astronomy office at 301-405-3001.

Students who have been away more than two years may find that due to curriculum changes the courses they have taken may no longer be adequate preparation for the courses required to complete the major. Students in this situation must meet with the Departmental Advisor to make appropriate plans.

Undergraduate Research Experiences

Undergraduates have many research opportunities both on and off campus.  More information is available on the department website under ' Undergraduate Research '.

Internships

Many undergraduate students do astronomy research internships at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.  See the department website under ' Undergraduate Research '.

Honors Program

The Honors Program offers students of exceptional ability and interest in Astronomy opportunities for research participation.  Honors students work with a faculty advisor on a research project for which academic credit is earned.  Certain graduate courses are open for credit toward the bachelor's degree. (Students are accepted into the Honors Program by the Department's Honors Committee on the basis of grade point average or recommendation of faculty.)  Honors candidates enroll in ASTR399, complete a research project, write a thesis and do an oral presentation before a committee.  Satisfactory grades lead to graduation With Honors (or High Honors) in Astronomy.  Further information about the Honors Program can be obtained by calling the Department of Astronomy office at 301-405-3001.

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

AstroTerps is a student club open to all undergraduates with an interest in astronomy.  The club invites guest speakers and coordinates many outreach activities, field trips, and special events.

AGN is a group of astronomy undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers. Their goals include facilitating community among the undergraduates studying astronomy, discussing the challenges that women in science face, and giving graduate students a chance to share their experiences with undergraduates through this mentoring opportunity.

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