Undergraduate Astronomy at SFA
The astronomy minor has been developed at SFA for those students who have interests in astronomy beyond the introductory level. The course of study includes introductory physics, introductory astronomy, observational astronomy, and astrophysics. A student majoring in physics may minor in astronomy, but those courses that are applied to the minor cannot be applied to the major at the same time unless the student has a minor outside of the department. The requirements for the minor in astronomy are PHY 131 (or 241), 132 (or 242), AST 105, 305, and 335. All minor programs must be approved on the degree plan by the Chair of the Department.
 A Message from an SFA Alum
"The SFA Observatory offers broad research opportunties in the field of Astronomy. Graduate students and undergraduates alike can partake in spectroscopy, eclipsing binary star research, asteroid detection and tracking, radio astronomy, and robotic telescope operations. During my time at the SFA Observatory, my experience and knowledge base was made stronger through this plethora of research, which ultimately led to my success in obtaining an Assistant Director position at the brand new planetarium, The Center for Earth and Space Science Education, in Tyler, Texas."
"In regards to the SFA Observatory being an asset to the University and its students: most definitely yes. The SFA Observatory is one of the largest in the United States that allows undergraduates and graduates nearly unlimited telescope time. Other facilties ususally have a committee who allocates when and for how long people can use the telescopes. But at the SFA Observatory, as long as students are trained in proper telescope operation techniques, they could potentially use the telescopes every clear night. This notion was partially the reason why I choose to come to SFA, and how could a facilty that attracts students not be an asset to the University?"

--Justin Parish, SFA Physics Graduate

 Courses in Astronomy at SFA

Astronomy 105: Modern Astronomy

Descriptive Astronomy is open to all SFA students. We cover the universe in one semester, including stars, their evolution and end fates, star clusters, galaxies, cosmology, and planets. We emphasize the scientific method throughout the course and introduce the new findings as they are made. The associated lab shows how large ideas can be discovered using simple tools. The students get an opportunity to visit the SFA Observatory for real, hands-on telescope time.

Astronomy 305: Observational Astronomy

Observational Techniques is a course that few universities can offer. The proximity of the Observatory permits an in-depth study of the tools and techniques of professional astronomers as well as useful insight into the lifelong hobby that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy. The students get a chance to use the research telescopes at the SFA Observatory. The course breaks naturally around the observing projects that the student teams perform, including
* Telescope Familiarization
* Unguided Astrophotography
* Guided Astrophotography
* CCD Imaging
* CCD Photometry

Astronomy 335: Astrophysics

For those who want the answers in more depth, try Astrophysics. We cover the same topics as the introductory course but take the time to show the mathematics involved. We suggest that introductory Physics (131 or 241 & 132 or 242) and first semester calculus precede Astrophysics.

Physics 475 & 476: Special Problems - Astronomy Research

For undergraduate credit only. Experimental or theoretical independent study in research. Prerequisite: 12 semester hours of physics.  
 Graduate Astronomy at SFA
Students interested in astronomy at the graduate level may pursue a degree in physics while getting involved in research at the SFA Observatory.

Physics 575 & 576: Advanced Graduate Studies - Astronomy Research

1-4 semester hours. Individual instruction and special problems not a part of thesis. May be repeated under different topics.

Physics 589 & 590: Thesis Research and Thesis Writing

Example Thesis Titles
  • Michael F. Hibbs, "The Design and Construction of an Astronomical Photometer/ A Photoelectric Study of U Cephei"
  • Edward J. Michaels, "A Photometric Study of UV Lyncis"
  • Randy L. Gann, "A Photometric Study of CK Boötis and V839 Ophiuchi"
  • Thomas Young, "The Design and Construction of an Automated Spectrophotometer"
  • John D. Mullikin, "Algorithm Development for Star Image Pattern Recognition"
  • Paul D. Driskell, "Star Image Digitization and Recognition"
  • Bruce A. Bacher, "A Photometric Study of AM Leonis"
  • Rolando Branly, "A Photometric Study of AK Herculis and CN Andromedae"
  • David Rosprim, "The Observation and Analysis of Lunar Occultations at the SFASU Observatory"
  • Larry Luther, "A Photometric Study of the Eclipsing Binary System CK Boötis"
  • Wm. Lee Powell, "CCD Photometry of Open Clusters" 
  • James E. Teel, "Lunar Occultation Studies Using the 1.04 m Telescope at the SFASU Observatory"
  • Carleton F. Stewart, "The Photometry and Astrometry of Minor Planets"
  • Michael Johnson, "A Survey of the Radio Sky at the SFA Observatory"
  • And Many More...

Applying for Graduate School

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