College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Butler University offers a unique experience for its students studying astronomy and astrophysics.  In today's world some of the most useful skills a student will receive is in an environment outside of the classroom.  Our department excels at this by providing these hands-on experiences.  Besides providing a firm foundation of coursework in astronomy, physics, and mathematics our department offers superior facilities for our students and faculty to explore the universe.  These facilities include access to the fully automated 1-meter telescope located at the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium, our remote observing and computational astrophysics lab, and the Big Dawg supercomputer for computational research.  In additional to our on-campus facilities Butler is also part of the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) telescope consortium.  The SARA partnership gives our students over 60 nights per year of remote access to three 1-meter class telescopes located at Kitt Peak, AZ, Cerro Tololo, Chile, and LaPalma, Spain in the Canary Islands.  Typically most of our astrophysics students from the second year onward are involved in research.  The experience and skills they learn from this can not only translate to a career in astrophysics but nearly any STEM field a student may eventually pursue.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Major

College undergraduates planning careers in astronomy, astrophysics, and engineering should obtain a solid foundation in physics and mathematics.  The Butler Astronomy and Astrophysics major provides sufficient foundation in physics, astrophysics, and mathematics for a number of careers including education, engineering, physics, astronomy, aerospace, intelligence and defense industries, and computational physics.  Specifically, a student planning to go on to graduate school in astronomy and astrophysics should have physics courses covering mechanics, electricity and magnetism, modern physics, and optics.  The requirements and recommended course are listed below.  Note that a number of our 300-level courses are taught on an alternating year basis.

Requirements for Astronomy and Astrophysics Major

PH 201, 202 Introduction to Analytical Physics I and II
PH 301 Modern Physics
PH 303 Electromagnetic Waves and Optics (F15)
PH 321 Intermediate Classical Mechanics (S16)
PH 331 Electromagnetic Theory (F14)
PH 495 Senior Seminar

AS 102 Modern Astronomy (same as NW263AS)
AS 301 Modern Astronomical Techniques (F14)
AS 311 Stellar Astrophysics I (S15)
AS 312 Galaxies and Cosmology (F15)

PH 311 Experimental Modern Physics
PH 325 Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics (S15)
PH 421 Quantum Theory 1 (F15)
PH 461 Computational Physics

Particular regard should be given to the mathematics and physics prerequisites for all 300-level courses.  Note that many of the upper-level courses will require MA 106, MA 107, MA 208, and/or MA 334.  Students should also take at least one computer science course that involves programming, typically CS 141.  The College of Liberal Arts and Science requires that students take at least 40 hours of credit at the 300-level or higher to graduate.  For a Bachelor of Science degree a student must take a minimum of 60 hours in the natural sciences.  To see a typical sequence of courses for a student, please review the Astronomy and Astrophysics Track.

Requirements for Astronomy Minor

AS 102 Modern Astronomy (same as NW263-AS)
PH 201, 202 Introduction to Analytical Physics I and II
AS 301 Modern Astronomical Techniques (F14)
AS 311 Stellar Astrophysics (S15)
AS 312 Galaxies and Cosmology (F15)

Please note that those courses listed at the 300-level or higher will require calculus and physics.  Please check the prerequisites for each course in the course descriptions.