Reach for the stars and space out studying celestial bodies, moons and galaxies at CMU. If the mysteries of the universe put your mind into overdrive, you’ll love using CMU’s advanced equipment and astronomical observatory atop Brooks Hall. If your dream is to be an astronomer, you’ll have a bright future earning a physics degree with an astronomy concentration at CMU.
Points of Pride
Central Michigan University’s astronomical observatory focuses on a far-away world full of moons, planets, comets and stars. The Brooks Hall facility contains two sections: a research and reference area and an observation area. The research area contains computers, a darkroom and a library of more than 1,000 volumes of observatory publications, catalogs, charts and atlases. The observation area includes an automatic retractable dome that protects a 16-inch (40.6-cm) Newtonian/Cassegrain telescope used by faculty and students. Manufactured by DFM Engineering, the $100,000 computer-controlled classical Cassegrain reflector can be pointed to any place in the sky for more sophisticated and advanced viewing of celestial bodies.
Put Your Degree to Work
Expected growth in federal government for astronomy research should increase the number of jobs, especially at colleges, universities and national laboratories.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sample data
|Job||Median Pay||Job Growth through 2022|
|Astronomer||$106,360 per year||10% (2,400 more jobs)|
|Postsecondary teacher||$68,970 per year||19% (236,400 more jobs)|
The course listings below are a representation of what this academic program requires. For a full review of this program in detail please see our official online academic bulletin AND consult with an academic advisor. This listing does not include the General Education courses required for all majors and may not include some program specific information, such as admissions, retention, and termination standards.
(Click on the course name or number for a complete course description.)
Physics Major: Astronomy Concentration
This option is available within the physics major for students with a particular interest in astronomy or astrophysics. This program provides the background desired by most astronomy graduate programs.
Total: 50-65 semester hours
University Physics I
Normally the first physics course for majors and minors. Mechanics of single and many-particle systems, conservation laws, statistical concepts, and gravitational interaction. Quantitative Reasoning. Pre/Co- Requisite: MTH 132.
University Physics II
Temperature and thermodynamics, electromagnetic interaction, electrical circuits, electromagnetic radiation, and optics. Not open to those with credit in PHY 131. Prerequisite: PHY 145. Pre/Co-requisite: MTH 133.
University Physics Laboratory I
Laboratory experience for PHY 145. Introduction to experimental techniques and the treatment of experimental data. Satisfies University Program Group II laboratory requirement. Pre/Co-requisite: PHY 145. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
University Physics Laboratory II
Laboratory experience for PHY 146. Introduction to electrical measurements and instrumentation. Introduction to techniques of optical measurements. Prerequisite: PHY 175. Pre/Co-Requisite: PHY 146.
Introduction to Modern Physics
Historical development of modern physics; introduction to special relativity, atomic structure, and elementary quantum theory. Quantitative Reasoning. Prerequisites: PHY 146 or 131; MTH 132. Recommended: MTH 133.
University Physics Laboratory III
Laboratory experience for PHY 247. Introduction to the techniques of electron and photon physics. Pre/Co-Requisite: PHY 247.
Introduction to Mathematical Physics
Introduction to mathematical concepts and techniques required to understand classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. Pre/Co-Requisites: PHY 247QR; MTH 233, 334.
Newtonian mechanics of particles and systems of particles: conservation theorems, gravitation, oscillations, central force motion, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian dynamics, and two-particle collisions. Pre/Co- requisites: PHY 247; MTH 233, 334.
Electricity and Magnetism
Electrostatic fields in vacuum and in dielectrics, magnetic fields associated with constant and variable currents, magnetic materials, Maxwell's equations. Prerequisite: PHY 247; MTH 233, 334.
Introductory Quantum Theory
Introduction to quantum theory, Schrödinger equation, operators, angular momentum, harmonic oscillator, atomic hydrogen, perturbation theory, identical particles, radiation. Some applications will be considered. Prerequisites: PHY 312, 322, 332.
Introduction to equilibrium thermodynamics and elementary statistical mechanics. Prerequisite: PHY 312, PHY 322.
Senior Physics Project
Capstone experience for physics majors. Students enroll during their penultimate semester on campus. Writing Intensive. Prerequisites: PHY 312, 322, 332, 578. Prior permission of instructor.
Selected experiments utilizing the techniques of modern experimental physics. Writing Intensive. Prerequisites: PHY 277, PHY 322 or graduate standing in Physics. Pre/Co-requisites: PHY 332 or graduate standing in Physics.
General Astronomy I
A mathematical treatment of modern astronomy for majors/minors in the sciences. Coordinate systems, astronomical instruments, time, moon and eclipses, earth as a planet, other solar system objects. Prerequisite: PHY 145.
General Astronomy II
A continuation of AST 260. Stellar astronomy, interstellar matter, galactic structure, galaxies, quasars, cosmology. Prerequisite: AST 260.
Astronomical coordinate systems, astronomical instruments, and the techniques of astronomical direct imaging, photometry, and spectroscopy. Prerequisites: AST 260, 261 or graduate standing. Pre/Co-requisite: PHY 322 or graduate standing.
Stellar atmospheres, stellar interiors, interstellar matter and topics of current interest. Prerequisites: AST 261; PHY 332.
Note: MTH 223 is a prerequisite for both MTH 233 and 334.
Limits, continuity, interpretations of the derivative, differentiation of elementary functions, applications of derivatives, antiderivatives, Riemann sums, definite integrals, fundamental theorem of calculus. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Recommended: MTH 107, 109; or MTH 130. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
Techniques of integration, applications of definite integrals, improper integrals, elementary differential equations, infinite series, Taylor series, and polar coordinates. Prerequisite: MTH 132.
Vectors and surfaces in R3, vector-valued functions, functions of several variables, partial differentiation and some applications, multiple integrals, vector calculus. Prerequisites: MTH 133. Pre/Co-Requisites: MTH 223 or 232.
Definition and solution of first, second, and higher order differential equations. Prerequisites: MTH 133, MTH 223.