Astronomy encompasses phenomena at all scales, from the description of matter on the subatomic level, to the behavior of planets, stars, galaxies, superclusters; exotic objects such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes; and the origin and fate of the universe itself. Although among the oldest of the sciences, Astronomy continues to provide deep and sometimes startling insight into the underlying laws of nature. Examples include: the existence of compact stellar remnants that resist collapse only through quantum mechanical effects; direct imaging of the event horizon of a billion solar-mass black hole; the direct measurement of ripples in space itself; and the realization that the expansion of the universe is accelerating over time. 


Astronomy Minor

The Astronomy Minor develops students' familiarity with the concepts and techniques of Astronomy & Astrophysics. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are developed through application of these principles to a wide variety of applications, whether in coursework or in research applications. In addition to deepening understanding of and appreciation for the science of Astronomy as currently practiced, the Astronomy Minor helps prepare students for entry into the professional workforce (particularly in STEM areas). This minor is appropriate for students who wish to pursue a post graduate degree in astronomy or physics, students pursuing a secondary education physics certification, or any student with a deep interest in the field.

The typical path through the ASTR minor requires completion of four advanced-level instructional courses, one of which may be replaced by directed research. More details are provided below; in addition, we recommend contacting an Astronomy instructor at UM-Dearborn (Dr. Will Clarkson: or Dr. Carrie Swift: for further details.

Visit the University Catalog:

Learn about degree requirements and coursework for the Astronomy minor.

Learn which Dearborn Discovery Core requirements are fulfilled by taking Astronomy courses.

COVID-19 Update

Our laboratories will offer a combination of virtual experience, simulation and demonstration to provide as close to a true laboratory experience as possible.

Students taking Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Geology can expect a rigorous curriculum that will provide both lecture and laboratory experience yet maintain social distancing.

The Astronomy minor has been devised to meet the needs of three (somewhat distinct) groups of students: 

  • Students with math training at the Calculus-II level or above, who may become interested in graduate school in a physical science, and thus require sufficient preparation to make graduate-­level coursework feasible (example: Physics, Chemistry, Math, Geology majors).
  • Students with math training at the Calculus-­II level or above, who have an interest in Astronomy, but for whom an undergraduate minor is likely to be their terminal science training and for whom the introductory-­level courses (e.g. ASTR 130) are unlikely to be intellectually satisfactory (for example: Computer Science majors with an interest in Astronomy).
  • Students with deep interest in aspects of planetary science who wish to further their understanding of the interplay between geological/environmental  and  planetary  viewpoints, but  for  whom Calculus-­II is not required as part of the major (e.g. some Geology majors; Environmental science majors; education majors).

Below we give three example tracks through the Astronomy minor.  Note that these options are not exclusive. 

Example path 1 – students with Calc-­II training
  • First course: PHYS 305, ASTR 301 or ASTR 330 (One of these three courses available every Fall and Winter semester.)
  • Follow-on courses: ASTR 421, ASTR 445
Example path 2 – students who never take Calc-­II
  • First course: ASTR 330 or ASTR 361 (Fall every other year (ASTR 330), Summer-­I every year (ASTR 361))
  • Follow-­on courses: ASTR495/498/499, whichever of ASTR 330 or ASTR 361 not taken as a first course.

Note: in this path, one of the independent study courses is required in order to accumulate sufficient credit to achieve the ASTR minor.

Example path 3 – students who discover they want to take Calc-­II after starting the minor
  • First course: ASTR 330 or ASTR 361 (Fall every other year (ASTR 330), Summer-­‐I every year (ASTR 361))
  • Follow-­on courses: ASTR 301, ASTR 421, ASTR 445

A student entering the minor through ASTR 330 could achieve the math requirement for ASTR 421 and ASTR 445 by:

  • taking MATH 114/116 at the same time as ASTR 330 or ASTR 361
  • taking MATH 114/116 and then MATH 205/215 in the intervening four semesters between ASTR 330 being offered, and ASTR 421 next being offered

Department Contact Information

Department of Natural Sciences
114 Science Faculty Center

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