Minor in Astronomy

Astronomy (Minor)

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What is astronomy?

The astronomy minor introduces students to the fundamentals of astronomy and astrophysics. You’ll learn about planets, stars, galaxies, the universe and the tools of the modern astronomer, including telescopes to study electromagnetic radiation from space. You’ll explore topics in modern astrophysics such as the formation, evolution and graveyard of stars, including white dwarfs and black holes. You’ll continue on to study the nature and evolution of galaxies and the structure of the universe.With a minor in astronomy, you can bring enhanced understanding of the universe to your future career or graduate studies, inside or outside the sciences.

Why study astronomy at UNH?

We have two flavors of the minor, one for those also getting a physics degree, and another for students outside of the physics major. You’ll have many research opportunities with faculty and research scientists associated with the Department of Physics & Astronomy, working on projects funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies and organizations. You’ll learn how to approach, analyze and solve complex problems as you develop new technologies, methods and theories that will prepare you for a range of careers in research, engineering and education.

Potential career areas

  • Aerospace engineering
  • Astrobiology
  • Astronomy
  • Astrophysics
  • Physics
  • Physics teacher
  • Planetary sciences
  • Science writer
  • Space sciences


Department of Physics
DeMeritt Hall 237A
9 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824

Phone: (603) 862-2669
Email: physics.dept@unh.edu  

Curriculum & Requirements

This minor program introduces students to the fundamentals of astronomy and astrophysics and also allows students some flexibility in their choice of more focused coursework. The required courses cover the following topics :  planets, stars, galaxies, cosmology, and modern astronomical tools.   We have two flavors of the minor, one for those also getting a physics degree, and another for students outside of the physics major.

Credit toward the minor will be given only for courses passed with C- or better, and a 2.0 grade-point average must be maintained in courses for the minor. Courses taken on the pass/fail basis may not be used for the minor. Students should declare their intent to earn a minor as early as possible and no later than the end of the junior year. During their final term, students must fill out an intent to minor and have it signed by the appropriate faculty.

The minor requires a minimum of five courses as detailed in the minor requirements. No more than 8.0 credits (or two courses) used by the student to satisfy major requirements may be used for the minor. Additional courses from the list of course electives may be utilized to meet the five-course minimum.

For further information please contact Professor Mark McConnell.

Required Courses
PHYS 406Introduction to Modern Astronomy4
PHYS 710Astrophysics I4
PHYS 711Astrophysics II4
PHYS 505General Physics III (for non-physics majors only)3
PHYS 506General Physics III Laboratory (for non-physics majors only)1
Select two courses (physics majors) or one course (non-physics majors) from the following:8
ESCI 420
Our Solar System
ESCI 741
ESCI 745
Isotope Geochemistry
The following courses have significant physics pre-requisites and so may not be practical for non-physics majors
PHYS 708
PHYS 712
Space Plasma Physics
PHYS 764
General Relativity and Cosmology
Total Credits24

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