Astronomy, offered as a minor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the study of the universe beyond the earth's atmosphere. The field today deals with some of the most important questions in science, such as the origin of the universe, the processes by which the elements are formed, and the life cycles of stars and galaxies. Modern astronomy leans heavily on the concepts and techniques of physics and mathematics. A result of this dependence on other fields is that degrees in astronomy are generally granted at the graduate, not the baccalaureate, level. The minor in astronomy, with a B.S. in Physics, is an excellent preparation for graduate study in astronomy.
Career fields for which an astronomy minor would be beneficial include aerospace, astronomy, atmospheric science, education, planetary geology, and geophysics.
A variety of courses are available within the minor, including laboratory work that utilizes the on-campus observatory, rigorous courses in astrophysics, and a number of descriptive courses for students whose major interests lie in other fields.
Selected Topics courses offered in the past include: Variable Stars, Binary Star Systems, Photoelectric Photometry, Stellar Spectroscopy, and Applications of ubvy Photometry.
The SSU Observatory, in operation since 1976, houses two telescopes, a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain and a 10-inch Newtonian, with auxiliary instrumentation for CCD imaging, photoelectric photometry, photography, and spectroscopy. The Newtonian is computer-controlled. The observatory is used by students in laboratory and lecture courses and for independent study and research.