Major and Minor in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Major and Minor in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Astronomy & Astrophysics is the study of planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe as a whole; its origin, and how it evolves with time.

Majors and Minors graduating in Spring 2023
Majors and Minors declared for Astronomy & Astrophysics
Students in the 2022 SURP cohort

What is Astronomy?

Astronomy & Astrophysics is the study of planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe as a whole. This includes how all of these originate and their evolution in time. The principal pursuits of an astronomer are to extend our understanding of the physical nature of the Universe and to convey this understanding to colleagues, students, and the general public.

Astronomy is an observational science With only a few exceptions (meteorites and moon rocks), we cannot actually experiment on or touch celestial objects and are totally dependent upon incoming electromagnetic radiation, light, from space. Observations over the entire light spectrum (gamma-ray, x-ray, ultraviolet, visible, infrared, microwave, and radio light) are collected with both Earth-based telescopes and space observatories. In recent years, multimessenger astronomy is increasingly possible studying events using light, gravity waves, and particles at the same time. All of these observations are analyzed using the tools of modern computing and statistics. Theoretical astrophysics uses state-of-the-art physics and supercomputers to recreate the physical processes numerically in an attempt to match the observations.

There is no difference in Astronomy or Astrophysics here at Ohio State they mean one and the same. The heart of the prospective astrophysicist's education consists of a firm grounding in physics plus advanced mathematics to understand those physics concepts.

What can a professional astronomer do?

Many professional astronomers have faculty positions at universities and colleges or are affiliated with universities and colleges through observatories and laboratories. In academia, teaching and research are the major areas of activity. Some professional astronomers are employed by the federal government directly (e.g., NASA) or by federally supported national observatories and laboratories (e.g., National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory).  A Ph.D. degree in astronomy or physics is generally required for these positions. There are opportunities while earning your BS to work at these observatories and labs in astronomy and physics Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs. We encourage undergraduates who wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree in astronomy or related fields to double major in both astronomy and physics.

Individuals with an M.S. and B.S. degrees in astronomy & astrophysics may also find employment at observatories, planetariums, science museums where they may assist in computational and observational research programs or participate in public education programs. At least one past OSU astronomy major used her training as a stepping stone to a career in science journalism.

The possibilities are wider than you think! There are many opportunities to work in industry after any stage of education. You will have a strong background set of skills that gives you the ability to succeed in software, data science, banking, and even creative endeavors in video games and theme parks. When you finish your degree you will be able to do much more than astronomy and you can use that foundation for the rest of your life.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics offered by The Ohio State University is excellent preparation for graduate study in astronomy and other physical sciences, as well as a solid grounding for becoming a teacher in the physical sciences at the primary and secondary levels.

Need Help?

If you are wondering if the Astronomy & Astrophysics major/minor is right for you please contact Astronomy Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

If you need help in one of your physics courses, click here for available tutoring resources. Help in astronomy classes can often be found by attending an Astronomical Society meeting.