a woman peers into a large telescope
Assistant Professor of Astronomy Kate Follette on the observatory deck of the Science Center

The Astronomy major introduces students to the computational techniques, statistical tools, instrumentation, and physical principles that underlie modern Astronomy.  Computational and statistical techniques are introduced in the first course in the major sequence, ASTR 200 (Intro to Data Science), and further honed in ASTR 235 (Introductory Astrophysics) and ASTR 352 (Advanced Astrophysics). These courses also draw on physical principles introduced in the three-course required physics sequence: PHYS 123, 124, and 225.

A joint Five College Astronomy Department offers courses beyond those offered at Amherst. All required courses are taught at Amherst, but we encourage students to take elective courses at the four other institutions: Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts. As a result of this Five College partnership, students enjoy the benefits of a first-rate liberal arts education while maintaining association with a research department of international stature. Students may pursue independent theoretical and observational work in association with any member of the Five College Astronomy Department, either during the academic year or the summer. The facilities of all five institutions are available to departmental majors. Students may search for Astronomy courses through the Five College online catalog.

Preparation for Graduate School in Astronomy

Students wishing to pursue graduate work in Astronomy should consider a double major in physics and should endeavor to complete as many of the following additional courses as possible: Physics 230, Physics 343, Physics 347, Physics 348, Math 211, Math 260, and Math 271 or 272. In addition, a foundation in Computer Science and Statistics are highly recommended.