Neptune, JWST image NASA, ESA, CSA, STSci

Department of Astronomy

The Department of Astronomy is one of the leading centers for astronomical research in the world. The department places strong emphasis on the participation of students in ongoing research projects and strives to foster an interdisciplinary approach to solving astronomical problems by maintaining strong ties with other departments. Many undergraduate and graduate alumni of Cornell astronomy have become leaders in the field. The department is also actively engaged in outreach to the broader community.

Frank Drake '51
Robert Barker, Cornell University

Frank Drake ’51, astronomy pioneer, dies at 92

Frank Drake BEP ’51, former Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, died on Sept. 2. He was 92.

“Frank Drake was a pioneer of radio astronomy and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence using radio telescopes,” said fellow astronomer Jonathan Lunine.

Click here to read the full article.


Department of Astronomy research

The Department of Astronomy is a leading center of astrophysics and planetary science research.

Visit CCAPS, the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science

Learn about the Carl Sagan Institute

Léa Bonnefoy '15, post-doctoral researcher
Léa Bonnefoy ‘15, a post-doctoral researcher, led a team of Cornell scientists to characterize the Dragonfly mission's landing site on Saturn’s moon Titan. The rotorcraft is expected to launch in 2027 and reach that moon in 2034. Jason Koski/Cornell University

Research spotlight

When NASA’s 990-pound Dragonfly rotorcraft reaches the Selk crater region – the mission’s target touchdown spot – on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2034, Cornell’s Léa Bonnefoy '15 will have helped to make it a smooth landing.

[Cornell Chronicle]

Learn more about astronomy research at Cornell.

Astronomy News

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2021 graduate student cohort

Undergraduate program

The Astronomy Major at Cornell University is designed to be flexible so that it can be customized to the needs of each student. 

Learn about the undergraduate program

Graduate program

Astronomy offers a wide variety of world-class research opportunities in astronomy, astrophysics and space science, with strong multidisciplinary connections, and a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

Explore the graduate program

Students at an eclipse viewing event

Reaching beyond campus

In the spirit of the renowned Cornell Professor Carl Sagan, the Department of Astronomy reaches beyond campus in numerous ways. The Spacecraft Planetary Image Facility (SPIF) is a repository of spacecraft data, a facilitator of research, and a hub for PreK-12 education and public outreach activities. Ask an Astronomer has been answering questions from the curious since 1997. The Cornell Astronomical Society conducts viewing nights at the Fuertes Observatory and offers educational programing to the public.

Astronomy Events