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Astronomy Major Overview

The Astronomy Major at Cornell University is designed to be flexible so that it can be customized to the needs of each student. There is a common core set of courses followed by two concentration paths:

1) Astrophysics Concentration is designed for those who intend to go on to graduate school in the physical sciences such as Astronomy, Physics, or Engineering.                               

2) General Astronomy Concentration is intended for students who do not plan on research careers in astronomy, but may have more broad intellectual interests, and are interested in related career paths, such as education or public outreach. The flexibility offered by the General Astronomy Concentration make it suitable to be elected as second major by broad group of students.

 

Astronomy Minors Overview

The Astronomy Minors at Cornell University are designed to be flexible so that it can be customized to the needs of each student.  There are three concentration paths:

1) Astrobiology Minor is designed for students interested in astronomy, geophysics, biology and science communication.

2) Astronomy Minor is designed for those students focued on astronomy.

3) Data Science in Astronomy Minor is designed for students interested in astronomy and data science.

Non-Astronomy majors from all Cornell colleges are eligible to earn a minor in Astronomy.  Minimum grade requirements are B- in 1000 or 2000 level courses, and C- in higher level courses. Independent study (ASTRO 4940) can qualify for the minor with approval by the Astronomy DUS.

TO APPLY for an Astronomy Minor make an appointment to visit the Director of Undergraduate studies (astronomydus@astro.cornell.edu).

1) Astrobiology Minor:

The Astrobiology Minor is designed for students who are interested in the search for life in the universe, the origin of life on Earth, the evolution of life on Earth, possible life in the Solar System and on Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The minor provides a cross-disciplinary frame work linking selected Astronomy courses with appropriate courses in Earth and Atmospheric Science, Biology and Science Communication, including:

a.  3 courses in Astronomy from the list below, at least 2 of which must be at or above the 3000 level.

       ASTRO 1101 - From New Worlds to Black Holes and
       ASTRO 1103 - From New Worlds to Black Holes
       ASTRO 2202 - A Spacecraft Tour of the Solar System: Science, Policy and Exploration
       ASTRO 2212 - The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds
       ASTRO 2299 - Search for Life in the Universe
       ASTRO 3301 - [Exoplanets & Planetary Systems]
       ASTRO 3302 - The Life of Stars: From Birth to Death
       ASTRO 3310 - Planetary Image Processing
       ASTRO 3334 - Data Analysis and Research Techniques in Astronomy
       ASTRO 4410 - Experimental Astronomy

b.  3 courses in other departments from the list below, at least 1 of which must be from the first 3 courses which are focused on Biology/Geobiology.

       BIOMI 2900 - General Microbiology Lectures or
       EAS 2500 - Meteorological Observations and Instruments or
       EAS 3030 - Introduction to Biogeochemistry (crosslisted)

       BIOMG 4380 - The RNA World
       BIOMG 4810 - Population Genetics (crosslisted)
       COMM 2850 - Communication, Environment, Science, and Health (crosslisted)
       COMM 3020 - Science Writing for the Media (crosslisted)
       EAS 3010 - Evolution of the Earth System
       EAS 3040 - Interior of the Earth
       EAS 3050 - Climate Dynamics

2) Astronomy Minor:

The Astronomy Minor is designed for students with interests focused on astronomy and astrophysics in general and demonstrates a level of interest and competence that is appropriate for pursuit of a wide variety of careers. The Astronomy Minor requires completion of a total of 13 credit hours in Astronomy at or above the 2000 level. At least 6 of these credits must be at or above the 3000 level, and at least 6 of the 13 credits must have a letter grade. All 3000 level courses or above count towards the requirements. The 2000 level courses that count towards the requirements include:

       ASTRO 2211 - Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology
       ASTRO 2212 - The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds
       ASTRO 2290 - [Relativity and Astrophysics]
       ASTRO 2299 - Search for Life in the Universe

3)  Data Science in Astronomy Minor:

The Data Science in Astronomy Minor is designed for students with interests in data science and its applications to topics in astronomy. The minor provides a cross-disciplinary frame work linking selected Astronomy courses with appropriate courses in Computer Science, ECE, Information Science, Statistics and Data Science, and ORIE including:

a.  2 courses in Astronomy from the list below, at least 1 of which must be at or above the 3000 level.

       ASTRO 2211 - Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology or
       ASTRO 3302 - The Life of Stars: From Birth to Death or
       ASTRO 4431 - Physics of Stars, Neutron Stars and Black Holes

       ASTRO 2212 - The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds
       ASTRO 2290 - [Relativity and Astrophysics]
       ASTRO 2299 - Search for Life in the Universe
       ASTRO 3301 - [Exoplanets & Planetary Systems]
       ASTRO 3303 - Galaxies Across Cosmic Time
       ASTRO 4432 - [Introduction to Astrophysics and Space Sciences II]
       ASTRO 4433 - Introduction to Cosmology (crosslisted)
       ASTRO 4445 - Introduction to General Relativity (crosslisted)
       ASTRO 4940 - Independent Study in Astronomy

b.  2 Astronomy data oriented courses from the following:

       ASTRO 3310 - Planetary Image Processing
       ASTRO 3334 - Data Analysis and Research Techniques in Astronomy
       ASTRO 3340 - Symbolic and Numerical Computing
       ASTRO 4410 - Experimental Astronomy
       ASTRO 4523 - [Modeling, Mining and Machine Learning in Astronomy]

c.  2 courses in Computer Science, ECE, Information Science, Statistics and Data Science, and Operations Research and Information Science (ORIE).

This includes 1 course in probability and statistics, and 1 course in data structures and algorithms, modeling, and/or machine learning with choices influenced by the particular astronomy emphasis, availability of courses, and consultation with the Astronomy Director of Undergraduate Studies and, if relevant, the instructor of a data-oriented Independent Studies Course (e.g. ASTRO 4940)

Acceptable Courses include:

       BTRY 3010 - Biological Statistics I (crosslisted)
       CS 2110 - Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures (crosslisted)
       CS 3110 - Data Structures and Functional Programming
       CS 4786 - Machine Learning for Data Science
       ECE 3100 - Introduction to Probability and Inference for Random Signals and Systems (crosslisted)
       ENGRD 2700 - Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics
       INFO 2950 - Introduction to Data Science
       MATH 4710 - Basic Probability
       MATH 4720 - Statistics
       ORIE 3120 - Practical Tools for Operations Research, Machine Learning and Data Science
       ORIE 3500 - Engineering Probability and Statistics II
       ORIE 4740 - Statistical Data Mining I
       ORIE 4741 - Learning with Big Messy Data
       ORIE 4742 - [Information Theory, Probabilistic Modeling, & Deep Learning with Scientific & Financial Applications]
       ORIE 6741 - Bayesian Machine Learning
       STSCI 3080 - Probability Models and Inference (crosslisted)
       STSCI 4520 - Statistical Computing (crosslisted)
       STSCI 4740 - Data Mining and Machine Learning
       STSCI 4780 - Bayesian Data Analysis: Principles and Practice


Distribution Requirement:

All courses in astronomy, except ASTRO 1700 may be used to fulfill the science distribution requirement in the College of Arts and Sciences.