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Astronomy Undergraduate Programs

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Principal Course Distribution Requirement

Principal courses offer introductions to the breadth of disciplines in the College. They acquaint students with the subject matter in an area, with the types of questions that are asked about that subject matter, with the knowledge that has been developed and is now basic to the area, and with the methods and standards by which claims to truth are judged.

Students must complete courses in topical groups in three major divisions (humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, and social sciences). For the B.A., three courses are required from each division, with no more than one course from any topical group. The B.G.S. requires two courses from each division, with no more than one from any topical group. To fulfill the requirement, a course must be designated as a principal course according to the codes listed below.

These are the major divisions, their topical subgroups, and the codes that identify them:


  • HT: Historical studies
  • HL: Literature and the arts
  • HR: Philosophy and religion

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

  • NB: Biological sciences
  • NE: Earth sciences
  • NM: Mathematical sciences
  • NP: Physical science

Social Sciences

  • SC: Culture and society
  • SI: Individual behavior
  • SF: Public affairs

No course may fulfill both a principal course distribution requirement and a non-Western culture or second-level mathematics course requirement. Laboratory science courses designated as principal courses may fulfill both the laboratory science requirement and one of the distribution requirements. No free-standing laboratory course may by itself fulfill either the laboratory science requirement or a principal course requirement. Students should begin taking principal courses early in their academic careers. An honors equivalent of a principal course may fulfill a principal course requirement.

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Non-Western Culture Requirement

A non-Western culture course acquaints students with the culture, society, and values of a non-Western people, for example, from Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, or Africa. Students must complete one approved non-Western culture course.

One approved non-Western culture course is required. Occasionally courses with varying topics fulfill the non-Western culture course requirement. See the Schedule of Classes for details. These courses are coded NW.

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Transfer and Earned Credit Course Codes

These codes are used to evaluate transfer credit and to determine which academic requirements a course meets.

  • H: Humanities
  • N: Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • S: Social Sciences
  • W: World Civilization and Culture
  • U: Undesignated Elective Credit (course does not satisfy distribution requirement)

All Astronomy courses

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There are 18 results.

A survey course that describes the interplay between the science of astronomy and cultural beliefs. It uses, among others, examples of how religious and philosophical tenets have enhanced or conflicted with scientific principles. Not for astronomy majors. LEC
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The structure and evolution of the universe, from nearby planets to distant quasars, are examined. Topics include recent discoveries concerning planets, stars, galaxies, pulsars and black holes as well as their evolution, the structure of the universe today and how it will be in the future. The emphasis is descriptive rather than mathematical. Concurrent enrollment in ASTR 196 suggested, but not required. Prerequisite: One year each of high school algebra and geometry. LEC
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An introduction to astronomical observations and methods. Students have the opportunity to use the telescopes at the K.U. observatory. The course includes constellation recognition, finding celestial objects, and interpreting astronomical data. A companion course to ASTR 191 or ASTR 391. Counts as a laboratory science when preceded or accompanied by ASTR 191 or ASTR 391. Prerequisite or corequisite: ASTR 191 or ASTR 391. LAB
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An exploration of astronomical extremes from various points of view: extremes in ages (the Big Bang and recent star formation), velocities and distances (quasars), rotation (pulsars), density (white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes), energy release (stellar explosions), and proximity (interacting binary stars). Prerequisite: Survey course in astronomy. LEC
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Undergraduate observational or theoretical problems in astronomy. Maximum credit, six hours. Prerequisite: Permission of department. IND
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An honors, calculus-based introduction to astronomy and astrophysics, required for astronomy majors. Components of the Universe - from planetary systems, stellar systems, large scale structure and cosmology - are examined to illuminate the physics principles which govern their evolution. Not open to students with prior credit in ASTR 191 or ASTR 291. Prerequisite: MATH 121, and either permission of instructor, or participation in the University Honors Program. LEC
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An introduction to the search for planets around other stars and for life in the universe beyond the earth. A discussion of the astronomical conditions under which life might form and the biological conditions of life formation and evolution. Methods of searching for extraterrestrial life. Prerequisite: An introductory course in biology, astronomy or geology. LEC
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This course is for students seeking to fulfill the undergraduate research requirement. Students are expected to participate in some area of ongoing research in the department, chosen with the help of their advisor. At the end of the term, students will present their results in a seminar to other students and faculty. (Same as EPHX 503 and PHSX 503.) Prerequisite: Junior/Senior standing in Astronomy, Engineering Physics, or Physics, or permission of instructor. IND
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Fundamentals of stellar astronomy including astronomical optics and techniques, coordinate and time systems, stellar spectroscopy, properties of normal, binary and variable stars. Prerequisite: PHSX 212. An introductory astronomy course is desirable. LEC
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A study of stellar groups, the interstellar medium, galactic structure and dynamics, galaxies, and cosmology. Prerequisite: ASTR 591 or consent of instructor. LEC
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Students acquire practical experience with astronomical equipment and data reduction techniques used in research and educational contexts. Prerequisite or corequisite: ASTR 591. LEC
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Individual students work on specialized research problems in the field of observational or theoretical astrophysics. Maximum credit, six hours. Prerequisite: ASTR 592. IND
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An introduction to radiation processes, thermal processes, and radiative transfer in stellar atmospheres and the interstellar medium. (Same as EPHX 691 and PHSX 691.) Prerequisite: PHSX 313 or consent of instructor. LEC
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The formation and evolution of stars, nucleosynthesis of the elements, and the physical processes of high energy physics. Prerequisite: ASTR 691 or consent of instructor. LEC
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Seminar designed to cover current topics in the physics of the Universe beyond the solar system. Content will vary. Graduate students engaged in or preparing for research may repeat enrollments in this course. Open to undergraduates with twelve hours of physics/astronomy courses numbered 500 or above, or consent of instructor. LEC
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The physics of fully ionized gases in magnetic fields and their application to interplanetary processes, planetary radiation belts, and the surface of the sun. The motion of charged particles in magnetic fields, magnetohydrodynamic waves, the solar wind and the magnetosphere. (Same as PHSX 795.) Prerequisite: PHSX 621. Corequisite: PHSX 631. LEC
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Advanced computer applications in physics and astronomy. General discussion and illustration of problem organization and solution by numerical and other methods with examples from plasma, space, solid state, elementary particle, and nuclear physics and astronomy. Students will design, write, validate, and document a computer program to solve a physical problem. (Same as PHSX 815 and CHEM 914.) Prerequisite: Six hours of computer science courses numbered 300 or above, and six hours of physics and/or astronomy courses numbered 300 or above. LEC
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Graduate students engaged in or preparing for research may repeat enrollments in this course. The content will vary. (Same as PHSX 897.) LEC
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