Westminster has one of the strongest astronomy programs amongst small colleges. Our faculty have contributed to the discovery of over a dozen exoplanets and the Nobel prize-winning discovery of the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe. We have a professional campus observatory, planetarium theater, GPU computer cluster, and sizable collection of teaching telescopes, binoculars, and cameras. Our students conduct research in areas such as observational astronomy, exoplanets, galactic astronomy, cosmology, orbital dynamics and computational astrophysics.
Above all, students at Westminster benefit from small class sizes, ready access to faculty, and close collaboration with faculty not typically available to undergraduate students in physics and astronomy departments at larger universities.
Students have recently co-authored peer-reviewed articles in the Astronomical Journal, presented at American Astronomical Society meetings, and conducted National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates at places such as the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Several of our alumni are pursuing astrophysics PhDs at research universities or are employed in engineering fields. Alumnus Jim Adams is the Deputy Chief Technologist of NASA, a position one level below the office of the top NASA Administrator.
The astronomy minor at Westminster is designed to serve students pursuing careers in astrophysics research or the aerospace industries as well as non-science majors simply seeking to satisfy a deep intellectual curiosity about the Universe. For the former, the minor should be coupled with a major in physics, engineering physics, computer science, mathematics or chemistry. For the latter, the minor welcomes students from any major. Students in the minor take introductory physics and can choose from six special-topic astronomy courses. Both calculus-based and calculus-free paths to the minor are offered.
In addition to coursework and research, Westminster students help run planetarium shows and stargazing parties for the local community and K-12 classes. Our weekly “Astro Coffee” journal club helps build community and keeps students and faculty updated on the latest astronomy happenings.
Imagine yourself an astronomer, aerospace engineer, geologist, climatologist, data analyst, computer programmer, laboratory inspector, science writer, teacher, consultant, and more.