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The Undergraduate Minors in Astronomy


There are two "tracks" for the minor in Astronomy from which an undergraduate student may choose: the Science Track and the Liberal Arts Track.

Units used to satisfy either Minor Track in Astronomy must achieve a GPA of 2.0 or above. At least 3 units of course work must be University Credit.

For more information, to enroll in either track of the Minor in Astronomy, or to request course substitutions, please contact Dr. Thomas A. Fleming (office: SO 209) at 621-5049.

I. Science Track

The Science Track for the Minor in Astronomy is intended for students majoring in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, or computer sciences seeking a solid, physics-based introduction to astronomy and astrophysics. The Science Minor in Astronomy requires at least 18 units of astronomy/physics courses. Nine (9) units must be upper division (300-level or above.)

The following courses are required:
Course Number Title
PHYS 161H or 141 Introductory Mechanics (4 units)
PHYS 162H or 142 Introductory Optics & Thermodynamics (4 units)
ASTR 250 Fundamentals of Astronomy (3 units)

Three courses should be selected from the following list:
Course Number Title
ASTR 300A Astronomy & Astrophysics (3 units)
ASTR 300B Astronomy & Astrophysics (3 units)
ASTR 302 Introduction to Observational Astronomy (3 units)
ASTR 305 Computational Physics (3 units)
ASTR 320 Philosophy and History of Astronomical Thought (3 units)
ASTR 392 Directed Research [graded, only 3 units may apply]
ASTR 400A Theoretical Astrophysics (3 units)
ASTR 400B Theoretical Astrophysics (3 units)
ASTR 406 The Nature and Origins of Life (3 units)
ASTR 418 Instrumentation and Statistics (3 units)
ASTR 442 Mars (3 units)
ASTR 450 Origin of the Solar System and Other Planetary Systems (3 units)
ASTR 475 Planetary Astrobiology (3 units)
ASTR 485 Radio Astronomy (3 units)
ASTR 488A Astrochemistry (3 units)


II. Liberal Arts Track

The Liberal Arts Track for the Minor in Astronomy is intended for undergraduate students in any field who wish to complement their major concentration with a sustained study of astronomical concepts, history, and methodology. Unilke the Science Track, it does not assume or require experience with physics and advanced mathematics. The Liberal Arts Minor in Astronomy may be added to any type of baccalaureate degree or major (e.g. B.A., B.F.A., B.S., etc.).

The Liberal Arts Minor in Astronomy requires 18 units of astronomy-related courses. Nine (9) units must be upper division. Any course used to fulfill a general education requirement cannot simultaneously be used for this minor (i.e. no "double-dipping" is allowed.) The courses listed below are all worth 3 units and can be used for this minor:

Lower Division:
Course Number Title Course Number Title
ASTR 201 Cosmology PTYS 206 The Golden Age of Planetary Exploration
ASTR 202* Life in the Universe PTYS 214* Astrobiology: A Planetary Perspective
ASTR 203 Stars OPTI 200 Light, Color, and Vision [3 units only]
ASTR 204 Great Debates in Astronomy    

*Due to significant content overlap, a student cannot receive credit for taking both courses.

Upper Division:
Course Number Title
ASTR 302§ Introduction to Observational Astronomy
ASTR 320 Philosophy and History of Astronomical Thought
ASTR 325 Science and Science Fiction
ASTR 333 Astronomy and the Arts
ASTR 337 Connecting with the Sky
PTYS 342 Life on Mars in Fact and Fiction
ASTR 392 Directed Research [graded, only 3 units may apply]
PHIL 305 Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
PHIL 426 Philosophy of the Physical Sciences

§requires computing experience; must obtain permission of the instructor to register

It is strongly recommended that students should take either ASTR 170B1 The Physical Universe or PTYS 170B2 The Universe and Humanity: Origin and Destiny before embarking on the Liberal Arts Minor in Astronomy. Either of these courses will fulfill part of the NATS Tier One general education requirement.

OPTI 200 is a repeatable course. Only 3 units of this course may be applied to the minor.

The ASTR 392 class will be used in a flexible way to provide several types of opportunity for students in the Liberal Arts Track. For example, it can be structured as a practicum on observing using the small telescopes that Steward Observatory maintains on Mt. Lemmon. It can also be a hands-on experience in Citizen Science, Space Grant, or astronomy pedagogy in conjunction with the Center for Astronomy Education, located in the Department of Astronomy.