PDA

View Full Version : Good Universities to Study Astronomy



mapsurveyor
2004-Mar-11, 05:30 PM
Does anyone know where there are good places to go to earn a degree in physics and astronomy or astrophysics? There is nothing in my region of the country. Much help appreciated.

mapsurveyor

Eta C
2004-Mar-11, 05:58 PM
Top departments for graduate physics from West to East

University of Callifornia Berkeley
University of California Santa Barbara
Stanford
Cal Tech
University of Chicago
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (my alma mater 8) )
Cornell
MIT
Princeton
Harvard

Close runners up

UC San Diego
UC Santa Cruz
Michigan
Arizona
Yale
SUNY Stony Brook

You really wouldn't go wrong at any of these schools. (apologies if I've left out a school that should be here. These are from memory). The rankings are for the graduate program, but the undergrad physics programs are also strong, especially once you're past the intro courses. The other advantage of a school with a strong graduate program is that there are opportunities for undergrads to get into some research.

As to astronomy, I'm less certain. Arizona and Hawaii both have the advantage of nearby telescopes (Keck and Mauna Kea). Others will have to help with that.

Kaptain K
2004-Mar-11, 07:53 PM
The University of Texas.

sts60
2004-Mar-11, 09:22 PM
Rice University (my alma mater) in Houston for astrophysics.
University of Maryland (close ties to Goddard Space Flight Center)
University of Alaska-Fairbanks for geo/near-space physics.

mapsurveyor - where is your part of the country, anyway?

BTW - Kap' K didn't mention it, but UT operates McDonald Observatory (http://www.as.utexas.edu/mcdonald/mcdonald.html) in West Texas.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-12, 12:06 AM
Johns Hopkins, with the Space Telescope Science Institute right there on campus.

Glom
2004-Mar-12, 12:26 AM
You don't say where you come from, but even if it means considering a course abroad:

The University of Birmingham
The University of Leicester
University College London

Kaptain K
2004-Mar-12, 12:26 PM
Rice University (my alma mater) in Houston for astrophysics.
University of Maryland (close ties to Goddard Space Flight Center)
University of Alaska-Fairbanks for geo/near-space physics.

mapsurveyor - where is your part of the country, anyway?

BTW - Kap' K didn't mention it, but UT operates McDonald Observatory (http://www.as.utexas.edu/mcdonald/mcdonald.html) in West Texas.
UT also operates The Hobby-Eberly Telescope for a consortium of institutions.

Argos
2004-Mar-12, 01:07 PM
You may call me whatever you want, but I donīt think you need a university to study astronomy. I donīt think you need a university to study anything.

Newton, Einstein, Bill Gates...They never needed a university curriculum to be at the top on their fields. Thereīs a lot of "doctors" around me, and theyīre not doing anything interesting or useful or original. Sometimes I think the republican ideals havenīt got to the university, that look more more as aristocratic clubs (well, at least in this part of the planet).

Trust your brain and save your money for a rainy day.

Kaptain K
2004-Mar-12, 01:12 PM
1) Bill Gates is not a physicist or an astronomer.
2 Both Einstein and Newton had Ph.D's.

George
2004-Mar-12, 02:11 PM
Are there internet opportunities to earn a degree in astronomy for someone like me that wants to advance but is too active in business and family to go back to school?

ToSeek
2004-Mar-12, 02:53 PM
Are there internet opportunities to earn a degree in astronomy for someone like me that wants to advance but is too active in business and family to go back to school?

Yes.

General stuff. (http://groups.msn.com/AstronomySpace/astronomyontheinternet.msnw)

Degree programs:

James Cook University (http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/mathphys/astronomy/masters.shtml)

Swinburne (http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/)

There are others but I can't find them right now. (I've applied to the James Cook program but haven't heard back yet.)

Argos
2004-Mar-12, 02:58 PM
1) Bill Gates is not a physicist or an astronomer.
2 Both Einstein and Newton had Ph.D's.

As you know, what Newton learned in his quadrivium correspond to our 8th grade, versing on humanities and incipient algebra. Such education could be obtained at home with a little effort and interest. By no means it was enough to launch him into the vortexes of calculus. Newton deplored the university of those times. It it was a pain for him (according to "The Life Of Isaac Newton", by Richard Waterfall). He had to make the tools he needed, and his achievements stem from his merits alone. University was kind of an Academy of Notables, and to attend it was a question of social status (as it is today, to a certain extent).

Einstein was an outsider and, again, the fruits of his intellect are not owed to his academic status, or to the curriculum itself. He was intelligence in raw state, and had all the mind stuff he needed by 16. Definitely, he hadnīt to go through all the (proverbial) mental violence and humilliation he suffered at school.

Bill Gates was just an example of how boring school can be to a creative guy. He quit it while still a freshman, as you know.

Eta C
2004-Mar-12, 03:54 PM
Perhaps Gates, Einstein, et al. suceeded without finishing a degree, but they are, in my opinion, the exceptions that prove the rule. For every Bill Gates that founds a Microsoft there are probably hundreds of people who left college to found businesses that ultimately failed. We don't hear about them.

In the sciences, things are different than in business. Like it or not, in the sciences some sort of academic degree is necessary for success. Without it you're doomed to be an outsider, never taken seriously. Things were different in Einstein's day (not to mention Newton's). The academic pipeline wasn't as well established then. In any case, regardless of whether or not he needed it, Einstein worked hard to get into a college and did finish a ** (or the Swiss equivalent) at the ETH in Zurich as well as a Ph.D. Perhaps he realized that these degrees were necessary for him to have any credibility in his field.

And that's really what it comes down to. Studying in college gives you the necessary background and credibility. A university degree establishs a certain expectation of ability for the person who holds it. You don't want to go to a doctor who hasn't finished medical school (unless you prefer the woo woo world of alternative medicine). Likewise, I wouldn't immediately trust any results or analyses produced by a person who isn't trained as a scientist. They may have an original idea but he (or she) would have a much harder time convincing me that they didn't make a mistake that I learned not to make my freshman year in college.

George
2004-Mar-12, 11:13 PM
Are there internet opportunities to earn a degree in astronomy for someone like me that wants to advance but is too active in business and family to go back to school?

Yes.

General stuff. (http://groups.msn.com/AstronomySpace/astronomyontheinternet.msnw)

Degree programs:

James Cook University (http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/mathphys/astronomy/masters.shtml)

Swinburne (http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/)

There are others but I can't find them right now. (I've applied to the James Cook program but haven't heard back yet.)

Thanks. That's what I had in mind. Too bad the BA doesn't have something going at Sonoma on this level. I am sure he would go ahead and advance place us quite a bit and save us much time. Well...you at least [I wonder if English would be a prerequisite?] :wink:

John Kierein
2004-Mar-13, 06:06 AM
I'm a little surprised U. of Colorado wasn't mentioned with LASP (Lab for Astrophysics and Space Physics) and closeness to very good Solar Physics group at NCAR and gov't scientists at NIST and NOAA. Nobel Laureates amongst this group, including very recent ones. Also Southwest Reseach Institute is very strong in planetary physics. Many NASA Principal investigators among this group.

If you are interested in planetary physics AZ State is good.

And both CU and ASU are known to be great party schools! You obviously are independently wealthy if you are interested in studying astronomy as there is little chance of making any $ in this field. Might as well be exposed to some really good partying, too, if you want to waste your life doing this.

I second the other choices, too. Rice is particularly good. U. of Iowa is very good in Space Physics. SUNY is doing some good stuff on some of their campuses. I also like UCSD. and maybe UC Santa Clara banana slugs near Lick. Notre Dame has an up coming group and several Canadian schools are good. Cornell has a good groups especially in Radio Astronomy. I presume you are english speaking and wouldn't be interested in going to Russia, but they have some world class stuff there.

All these schools can be highly competitive with many huge egos abounding and in the graduate schools there is lots of campus politics and fighting amongst each other for positions, reputation and credit for achievements. If you just want to take a few classes in astronomy, I'd recommend trying to study one of the basic sciences like math or physics or even electrical engineering and then take some classes at a decent community college with a friendly, dedicated english speaking teacher. Many lower level classes in the big schools are taught by foreign graduate students who are difficult to understand; sometimes teaching out of notes that aren't easy and using math you haven't seen before in other classes.

pkohlmil
2005-Feb-07, 11:03 PM
I have been looking at getting an online master's degree in Astronomy. I don't expect to make money in astronomy (compared to my current profession in computers) but I do hope the online degree will eventually open some doors outside of academia - educational outreach; working for a non-profit; maybe using computers in an astronomy context; etc.

The only such programs that I have found are in Australia: Swinburne or James Cook. I know someone on this forum has tried them. I seem to find more comments about Swinburne and I'm leaning in that direction. It seems to have more options and there is a tiny bit more information about it on the web. There was a previous program at Western Sydney but it is apparently defunct and I'm worred that will happen again. I also found a somewhat related program at North Dakota but it was really the same thing.

I hope someone can comment particularly if they have experiences to relate.

Maddad
2005-Feb-08, 08:28 PM
http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/index.htm

MIT offers online astronomy and physics courses at no cost. They will also be at no course credits of course, but if you're objective is to learn the real skinny on astronomy on a budget, this is the ticket.

skrap1r0n
2005-Feb-08, 09:18 PM
Rice University (my alma mater) in Houston for astrophysics.
University of Maryland (close ties to Goddard Space Flight Center)
University of Alaska-Fairbanks for geo/near-space physics.

mapsurveyor - where is your part of the country, anyway?

BTW - Kap' K didn't mention it, but UT operates McDonald Observatory (http://www.as.utexas.edu/mcdonald/mcdonald.html) in West Texas.

Is that the Observatory near Marfa where they guy got bent out of shape and fired 2 - .45 rounds into the main reflector and they didn't even hurt it?

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Feb-08, 10:16 PM
1) Bill Gates is not a physicist or an astronomer.
2 Both Einstein and Newton had Ph.D's.

As you know, what Newton learned in his quadrivium correspond to our 8th grade, versing on humanities and incipient algebra. Such education could be obtained at home with a little effort and interest. By no means it was enough to launch him into the vortexes of calculus. Newton deplored the university of those times. It it was a pain for him (according to "The Life Of Isaac Newton", by Richard Waterfall). He had to make the tools he needed, and his achievements stem from his merits alone. University was kind of an Academy of Notables, and to attend it was a question of social status (as it is today, to a certain extent).
I guess we can't expect Newton to have taken Calculus 101 at uni, since he invented it. :)

What you call Newton's pain with university was probably more his basic ill-at-ease with all people.


Einstein was an outsider and, again, the fruits of his intellect are not owed to his academic status, or to the curriculum itself. He was intelligence in raw state, and had all the mind stuff he needed by 16. Definitely, he hadnīt to go through all the (proverbial) mental violence and humilliation he suffered at school.
Einstein was not what we'd consider an outsider. True, he was working in the Patent Office, but he'd completed the physics curriculum and regularly communicated with other physicists.


Bill Gates was just an example of how boring school can be to a creative guy. He quit it while still a freshman, as you know.
To form a company. One of their first important customers was IBM, because Gate's mom was on a board with an IBM exec and she made some recommendations.

That's not cutting down those three--they had important insights before they were twenty. If you haven't got anything earth shaking by that time, it might be a good idea to go to school. :)

PS: Here's a good fall back school (http://faraday.uwyo.edu/) :)

Emspak
2005-Feb-08, 10:58 PM
Einstein finished his course in physics because without it, he could never have doen the work he did.

You can be the biggest genius on earth, but if you have never seen a piano, you won't know how to play it. Einstein went through a very tough curriculum (the description of it I read in the biography by Folsing made me woner how anyone finished!) but the work he did in the university, with all of its foibles, laid the groundwork for him to come up with the theories he did. He might have been able to do it locked in a room someplace, but there's a give-and-take with other people (which Einstein himself writes about pretty extensively, see his corresopndence) that makes good ideas possible. (As it turns out, Einstein himself was a terrible lecturer).

Einstein often credited his friends for their help in making his ideas work, at least insofar as they were able to provide sounding boards.

University degrees are a tool. Just like a screwdriver -- you use it to turn screws, not hammer nails or saw. A degree in and of itself doesn't mean much -- it is what you do with the time in university that matters. In the sciences, it's important to have a guide in the subject, even if you turn out to be smarter eventually. Science, like any other skill, is very dificult to self-teach, and teachers (good ones) are usually better than none at all. Think of the difference between a guy who is smart as heck and learns another language from books and tapes without conversing with others, and the guy who did that and spoke to native speakers every chance he got.

Some sciences, of course, lend themselves better to self-teaching than otehrs. Physics I think less so than higher math.

just a thought

Urbane Guerrilla
2007-Aug-22, 10:27 AM
If you are interested in major telescope making, the University of Arizona may be unequaled.

Ken G
2007-Aug-22, 04:22 PM
As you know, what Newton learned in his quadrivium correspond to our 8th grade, versing on humanities and incipient algebra.And most of what he knew is now taught to undergraduates (at universities, by the way). The point is, you cannot tear a historical education out of context and plunk it down into the modern world. The real question is, could Newton have achieved what he did if he had never been allowed to attend a university? I don't know, but I see no evidence to support your contention that he could have. Same for Einstein, Galileo, Feynman, Heisenberg, etc. etc.


By no means it was enough to launch him into the vortexes of calculus. The issue is not if it was "enough", it is if it was "required"-- this is the difference between the logical concepts of necessary and sufficient, which you are mixing.


Newton deplored the university of those times. Newton deplored a lot of things, but you are talking about his curmudgeonly personality not his educational needs.

It it was a pain for him (according to "The Life Of Isaac Newton", by Richard Waterfall). He had to make the tools he needed, and his achievements stem from his merits alone. University was kind of an Academy of Notables, and to attend it was a question of social status (as it is today, to a certain extent). I think this case is basically just a giant myth. The lonely genius who figures everything out on his own, with no inputs from anywhere. Einstein was a patent clerk, the Wright brothers were bicycle repairmen. It's just baloney. Einstein was a diligent student of the physics of his day, very strongly influenced by philosophers and mathematicians (Mach and Reimann, in particular). The Wright brothers scoured every book on flight known to man, practically. Maybe they didn't need to go to a university class, as there was none, but they needed some exposure to what was already known-- and when universities do have a relevant curriculum, there's no better way.

I am not an expert on Newton, but I suspect this is what he had in mind when he said he "stood on the shoulders of giants" (along with the dig against Hooke). And even as much as he hated Hooke, is it still just possible that something he got from Hooke influenced him in a very fundamental way that might have derailed him without it? If nothing else, the motivation to one-up Hooke! Also, Newton hated to publish, and it was like pulling teeth to get him to explain his ideas to others. Why didn't he just take his own ideas with him to his grave? Because of the university culture in which he was immersed, very likely.


Einstein was an outsider and, again, the fruits of his intellect are not owed to his academic status, or to the curriculum itself. He was intelligence in raw state, and had all the mind stuff he needed by 16.Again, what if he had never heard of Mach or Riemann? Perhaps there's no general relativity. You are still arguing from the position of the lack of sufficiency, but logically your position has to stem from an absence of necessity.


Definitely, he hadnīt to go through all the (proverbial) mental violence and humilliation he suffered at school.That is not logically relevant, as those negative experiences obviously did not prevent him from his accomplishments. Perhaps they could have potentially, or actually did for others, but it's not relevant in the argument you are presenting.



Bill Gates was just an example of how boring school can be to a creative guy. He quit it while still a freshman, as you know.And did he meet anyone at school that was important to him later on? Where did he go when he was recruiting the crucial new talent to keep him competitive? Still the question remains, not was school sufficient for these people, but was it necessary.