Astronomy is a fascinating study for those with a strong interest in the sky, the amazing discoveries being made almost daily by modern astronomers, or the remarkable history of astronomy that goes back to the dawn of human civilization.

The UVM physics department offers a wide variety of in-depth, largely qualitative courses designed to intrigue students with the full sweep of astronomical knowledge. Students who choose an astronomy minor start with the Introductory Astronomy course (ASTR 5) and one of the Astronomy Laboratories (ASTR 23 and ASTR 24) and then choose from a selection of additional courses on the "Moons and Planets," "Big Bang," "Stars and Galaxies," "Spacecraft in Astronomy," "History and Practices of Ancient Astronomy," or more advanced courses such a "Astrophysics," and "Special Topics" courses in astronomy. Students with a pre-professional interest in astronomy usually pursue the astrophysics track within the physics major.

Guide for Astronomy Minors (PDF)

  • Graduate Physics

    Under the close supervision of faculty members, graduate students pursue research at the frontiers of physics and astronomy. You will receive excellent training that prepares you for careers in academia, industry or a variety of government agencies.

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Searching the Stars for Extraterrestrial Life

The mysterious deep-space flashbulb called FRB12110 is a fast "radio burst" first detected at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, November 2, 2012, and recorded more than 200 times since, including a dozen detections on Christmas Day in 2016.

A team of scientists cheerfully speculated that these erratic, super-powerful, millisecond-long blasts of radio waves—from more than three-billion light-years outside our galaxy—might be the long-awaited Contact: a radio beacon built by aliens to power a gargantuan light-powered sailing craft. Whatever the cause, fast radio bursts may be the hottest and deepest mystery in astronomy today—and Casey Brinkman, University of Vermont class of 2017, was a co-author on the new Nature study, the only undergraduate student on the team.

A physics major at UVM, she focused on astronomy and astrobiology with UVM professor Joanna Rankin and visiting astronomer Dipanjan Mitra, studying an exotic type of star called a pulsar—including two trips with Rankin to study them at the Arecibo telescope. This background helped her land an internship this year—looking for aliens—and a role in the new study. Read more in the feature article Searching the Stars for Extraterrestrial Life.