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To study observational astronomy and/or theoretical astrophysics,

you would need to major in either astronomy, astrophysics, or physics, depending the undergraduate degree offerings at your transfer institution. Astronomy is often considered to be a sub-field of physics, and so there is often no separate astronomy undergraduate degree. The requirements of an astronomy or astrophysics degree will be very similar to those for a physics degree with upper division electives to be taken in astronomy-related topics. While at ARC, in addition to the calculus-based physics sequence, you should strongly consider taking the Honors Astronomy (ASTR 481) lecture/lab course, or Introduction to Astronomy (ASTR 300) and Astronomy Laboratory (ASTR 400). These have no mathematical prerequisite coursework, but it is advised that you are proficient in Elementary Algebra (MATH 100). While these astronomy courses are not always prerequisites for majors’ courses after transfer, they can help you gauge and confirm your interest in the field. You may also want to consider the ARC also offers several other courses in Astronomy.


ARC students, led by ARC Astronomy Professor Paulo Afonso, worked on-location at NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) to collaborate on an astrophysics project. The four-person student team constructed a payload capable of surviving near-space conditions in addition to collecting data that will help us to better understand the polarization of gamma- and x-ray background radiation, since this in turn may help us to better understand the many sources of such radiation, including gamma ray bursts, pulsars, and active galactic nuclei.

The ARC team wrote a 47-page proposal and applied to the High Altitude Student Program (HASP) in December 2017, and was then accepted as a piggyback payload in February 2018. The team has been working on the project together for more than 16 months. HASP is hosted by NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility; payload integration occurred at the Palestine, Texas CSBF location, and launch took place Sept. 4 in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. The payload equipment has returned to the facility and the data is being analyzed.

The photo shows the students' work in near space

The photo  above shows the students' work in near space.


Joel Keebler

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Noelle Jones

Department Chair:
Shih-Wen Young

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