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(College of Letters and Science)
Department Office: 601 Campbell Hall, (510) 642-5275
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The Department of Astronomy offers undergraduate and graduate instruction in a wide variety of fields, including theoretical and observational astrophysics; infrared, optical, and radio astronomy; galactic structure and dynamics of stellar systems; high-energy astrophysics and cosmology; star and planet formation; and spectroscopy. A considerable amount of research and teaching related to astronomy is done in other units at Berkeley, including the Physics Department, Earth and Planetary Science, Space Science Laboratory, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Various professors in the Chemistry, Mathematics, Statistics, and Engineering departments have an active interest in astronomy and are available for consultation.
A variety of instruments is available to students and staff, including two 10-meter telescopes at the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii; 30-inch, 40-inch, and 120-inch telescopes at Lick Observatory; a 30-inch telescope at Leuschner Observatory (near the campus); a 16-element millimeter-wave interferometer in Southern California; and the Allen Telescope Array at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory. Laboratories are available for the development of radio, infrared, and optical instruments, and for the precise measurement of images and spectra. Numerical simulations play an increasing role in Astrophysics, and we have a variety of expertise and machines available for this.
The Major in Astrophysics
During the first two undergraduate years, students must, in addition to fulfilling certain specific requirements of the College of Letters and Science, pursue studies that will prepare them for future work in astronomy or in other careers that benefit from an education in a physical science, such as science teaching or technical positions in industry. Specifically, the department requires that during the first two years, and in any case before declaring the major, students take courses that provide a thorough understanding of the following:
(1) Basic principles of physics: mechanics, properties of matter, electricity and magnetism, heat, wave motion, sound and light (Physics 7A, 7B, 7C);
(2) Basic mathematics: analytic geometry, differential and integral calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra (Math 1A-1B, followed by Math 53 and 54); and
(3) An introduction to astrophysics (Astronomy 7A-7B) is recommended for the major but not required.
The last two years, leading to the A.B. degree in astrophysics, are spent in more intensive work, primarily in the fields of astronomy, physics, earth and planetary science, and mathematics. The specific plan of study to be followed by each student is to be worked out in consultation with the departmental advisers for the major, and must include 30 units of upper division work in astronomy and allied fields. For students who are double majors in astrophysics and another science, the upper division requirement is reduced to 24 units.
All students are required to take at least one semester of undergraduate laboratory (Astronomy 120, 121, 122) and two of the senior-level courses Astronomy 160, C161, C162. Many students pursuing a dual-major of Astrophysics and Physics will be most interested in 160 and C161. Double-majors in Astrophysics and Earth & Planetary Science will be most interested in 160 and C162. With the approval of a graduate advisor, outstanding students may take a graduate course in Astronomy.
Honors Program. For honors in astrophysics a student must fulfill the following additional requirements: 1) maintain a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all courses in astronomy and related fields, and an overall grade-point average of at least 3.3 in the University; 2) carry out an individual research or study project, involving at least three units of H195. The student's project is chosen in consultation with a departmental adviser, and the written report is judged by the student's research supervisor and by a departmental adviser.
For more detailed or complete information about the astrophysics major, please contact the undergraduate student affairs officer in 611 Campbell Hall.
The Minor in Astrophysics
The minor program consists of two courses, either 120, 121, or 122; or 160, C161, or C162; plus three upper division electives. All courses must be taken for a letter grade.
Prerequisites. Physics 7A, 7B, 7C (or equivalent); Math 1A, 1B, 53, 54 (or equivalent). These courses must be taken for a letter grade. Physics 7A-7B-7C must each be passed with a letter grade of C or better. Students must achieve a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the seven courses. Astrophysics 7A and 7B are recommended for the minor but not required.
For more information regarding this program, please contact the undergraduate student affairs officer in 611 Campbell Hall.
The graduate program is aimed at the Ph.D. degree in astrophysics. Entering students need not have majored in astronomy, although some background in astronomy is desirable. A strong background in physics, however, is essential.
In addition to the qualifying examination required by the University, the department requires students to pass a preliminary examination which tests breadth and depth of knowledge of three specialized research areas chosen by the student from a list of about l0. Students choose, with the aid of their adviser, courses in the department which are useful in preparing for the preliminary and qualifying examinations. In addition, students must pass two graduate courses taken outside the department and must acquire one year's teaching experience. The program normally takes five to six years. Additional information on the program is available upon request from the department.
The requirements for the M.A. degree are 24 units in graduate or upper division undergraduate courses (12 of them in graduate courses) and the preliminary examination.
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