Students who wish to receive departmental Honors should enroll in ASTR 498 and 499 in addition to completing the other requirements for the major. To enter the Honors program, a student must attain an average grade of at least B– in all required courses taken through the end of the junior year, or receive department approval. At the end of the first semester of the senior year the student’s progress on the Honors problem will determine the advisability of continuation in the Honors program.
The aim of Departmental Honors work in Astronomy is to provide the student an opportunity to pursue, under faculty direction, in-depth research into a project in experimental and/or theoretical astronomy/astrophysics. Current areas of research in the department include direct imaging of extrasolar planetary systems, circumstellar disk imaging and computational modeling, adaptive optics instrumentation, and next generation telescope mission design. Additional opportunities within the Five College Astronomy Department include planetary science, star formation, molecular clouds, galactic structure, galaxy evolution and cosmology. Subject to availability of resources and faculty interest, Honors projects arising out of students’ particular interests are encouraged.
Students must submit a written thesis on the Honors work a few weeks before the end of their final semester (in late April for spring graduation). Students give a preliminary presentation of their work during the first semester, and a final presentation at the end of the second semester. In addition, they have a conversation with department faculty about the thesis work. The departmental recommendation for the various levels of Honors will be based on the student’s record, Departmental Honors work, Comprehensive Examination, and Oral Examination on the thesis.