Bryn Mawr

Return to current Catalog Home

2005-06 Catalog Home

Academic Calendars
2005-06 and 2006-07

About the College

Contact and Web Site Information

The Academic Program

Academic Opportunities

Libraries and Educational Resources

Student Life


Fees and Financial Aid

Scholarship Funds and Prizes

Loan Funds

Geographical Distribution of Students

Board of Trustees


Administration and Alumnae Association

Areas of Study

Africana Studies
Arts Program
Athletics and Physical Education
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Comparative Literature
Computer Science
East Asian Studies
Environmental Studies
Feminist and Gender Studies
Film Studies
Fine Arts
French and French Studies
General Studies
German and German Studies
Greek, Latin and Classical Studies
Growth and Structure of Cities
Hebrew and Judaic Studies
Hispanic and Hispanic-American Studies
History of Art
International Studies
Neural and Behavioral Sciences
Peace and Conflict Studies
Political Science
Romance Languages



Search Bryn Mawr
 Admissions Academics Campus Life News and Events Visit Find

Astronomy at Haverford College

Students may complete a major or minor in astronomy at Haverford College.


Stephen P. Boughn, John Farnum Professor of Astronomy
Fronefield Crawford III, Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics
R. Bruce Partridge, Bettye and Howard Marshall Professor of Natural Sciences

The objective of a major in astronomy is to study the phenomena of the extraterrestrial universe and to understand them in terms of the fundamental principles of physics. The department offers three courses, Astronomy 101a, Astronomy 112a, and Astronomy 114b, which can be taken with no prerequisites or prior experience in astronomy. The department also offers a half-credit course, Astronomy/Physics 152i, intended for first-year students who are considering a physical science major and wish the opportunity to study some of the most recent developments in astrophysics. Prospective majors usually study physics (Physics 105a and 106b) before enrolling in Astronomy 205a in the fall semester of their sophomore year, when they concurrently enroll in Physics 213a. Astronomy 206b and Physics 214b follow in the spring semester. Astronomy majors may then take up to four 300-level courses and may enroll in a research course (Astronomy 404a,b). Students planning on graduate study in astronomy are advised to study physics at an advanced level; in fact, many astronomy majors choose to double major in physics and astronomy. The department also offers a minor in astronomy.

Major Requirements

Requirements in the major subject are Astronomy 205a; Astronomy 206b; four 300-level astronomy courses, one of which may be replaced by an upper-level physics course; Astronomy 404, which may be replaced by approved independent research either at Haverford or elsewhere; and written comprehensive examinations. Prerequisites: Physics 105a (or 101a); Physics 106b (or 102b); Physics 213a; Physics 214b. Two mathematics courses are also required for the astronomy major; Mathematics 121 and all 200-level or higher mathematics courses can be used to satisfy this requirement. Bryn Mawr equivalents may be substituted for the nonastronomy courses. Astronomy/Physics 152i is recommended but not required.

Minor Requirements

Recommended: Astronomy/Physics 152i. Required: Physics 105a (or 101a); Physics 106b (or 102b); Astronomy 205a; Astronomy 206b; one 300-level astronomy course.

Requirements For Honors

All astronomy majors are regarded as candidates for honors. The award of honors will be made on the basis of superior work in the departmental courses, in certain related courses, and in the comprehensive examinations, with consideration given for independent research.

ASTR H101A Astronomical Ideas

Fundamental concepts and observations of modern astronomy, such as the motions and surface properties of the planets, the birth and death of stars, and the properties and evolution of the universe. Not intended for students majoring in the physical sciences. (Partridge, Division II) Offered in 2007-08 and alternate years.

ASTR H112A Survey of the Cosmos

Properties and evolution of the universe and of large systems within it. The qualitative aspects of general relativity including black holes and of mathematical models for the geometry of the universe are studied, along with the history of the universe from its early exponential expansion to the formation of galaxies. The role of observations in refining modern scientific understanding of the structure and evolution of the Universe is stressed. The approach is quantitative, but any mathematics beyond straightforward algebra is taught as the class proceeds. Prerequisite: No prerequisites, but Astronomy 101 is useful. (Partridge, Division II) Offered in 2006-07 and alternate years.

ASTR H114B Planetary Astronomy

A survey of the overall structure of the solar system, the laws governing the motions of the planets and the evolution of the solar system. Next, we study general processes affecting the surface properties of planets. This takes us to a detailed treatment of the properties of several planets. We end by studying the (surprising) properties of planets found in other stellar systems. (Partridge, Division II) Offered in 2006-07 and alternate years.

ASTR H152I Freshman Seminar in Astrophysics

This half-credit course is intended for prospective physical science majors with an interest in recent developments in astrophysics. Topics in modern astrophysics will be viewed in the context of underlying physical principles. Topics include black holes, quasars, neutron stars, supernovae, dark matter, the Big Bang, and Einstein’s relativity theories. Prerequisite: Physics 101a or 105a and concurrent enrollment in Physics 102b or 106b (or Bryn Mawr equivalents). (Boughn, Division II)

ASTR H205A Introduction to Astrophysics I

General introduction to astronomy including: the structure and evolution of stars; the structure and formation of the Milky Way; the interstellar medium; and observational projects using the Strawbridge Observatory telescopes. Prerequisite: Physics 105a-106b and Math 114b or the equivalent. (Boughn, Division II)

ASTR H206B Introduction to Astrophysics II

Introduction to the study of: the properties of galaxies and their nuclei; cosmology; the Hot Big Bang model; the properties and evolution of the solar system; planetary surfaces and atmospheres; and exo-planets. Prerequisite: Astro 205a, Math 114b or equivalent or permission of the instructor. (Partridge, Division II)

ASTR H313C Observational Optical Astronomy

One credit, full year course. Five observing projects that involve using the CCD camera on a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Projects include spectroscopy; variable star photometry; H-alpha imaging; imaging and photometry of galaxies and star clusters; instruction in the use of image processing software and CCD camera operation. Students work in groups of two with minimal faculty supervision. Formal reports are required. Prerequisite: Astronomy 205a. (Boughn)

ASTR H320B Cosmology and Extragalactic Astronomy

The study of the origin, evolution and large-scale structure of the universe (Big Bang Theory). Review of the relevant observational evidence. A study of remote galaxies, radio sources, quasars and intergalactic space. Prerequisite: Astronomy 206b. (Partridge) Offered in 2005-06 and alternative years.

ASTR H321B Stellar Structure and Evolution

The theory of the structure of stellar interiors and atmospheres and the theory of star formation and stellar evolution, including compact stellar remnants. Prerequisite: Astronomy 204a and Phys 214b. (Boughn) Offered in 2006-07 and alternate years.

ASTR H322A Nonoptical Astronomy

Introduction to the basic techniques of radio astronomy, to the various emission mechanisms at radio wavelengths, and to radio studies of astronomical phenomena. Some discussion of other nonoptical branches of astronomy, especially X-ray astronomy, but also including neutrino, cosmic-ray, gravitational wave, infrared and ultraviolet astronomy. Prerequisite: Astronomy 205a and 206b, or consent of instructor. (Partridge) Offered in 2006-07 and alternate years.

ASTR H404A,B Research in Astrophysics

Intended for those students who choose to complete an independent research project in astrophysics under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. (Boughn, Partridge, Crawford)

ASTR H480A,B Independent Study

Intended for students who want to pursue some topic of study that is not currently offered in the curriculum. In order to enroll, a student must have a faculty sponsor. Prerequisite: Astronomy 206b. (staff)


Bryn Mawr College · 101 North Merion Ave · Bryn Mawr · PA · 19010-2899 · Tel 610-526-5000