Above: Jupiter (with its moon Io) and Saturn as imaged by Astro 16
students with the Sproul refractor and CCD camera, November
(Copyright ©2000 Elliot Reed, Stephanie Tonnesen, and Rabi Whitaker.)
Welcome to the astronomy portion of the Department of Physics and Astronomy here at Swarthmore College.
David Cohen, Associate Professor of Astronomy.
Eric Jensen, Professor of Astronomy.
Mary Ann Klassen, Lecturer.
Ana Matković, Visiting Assistant Professor
Physicist Michael Brown has astronomical interests.
John Gaustad, Edward Hicks Magill Professor Emeritus of Astronomy.
Michael Brown, David Cohen, and Eric Jensen have many on-going research projects involving students. You can find information about specific research projects.
For information about student research opportunities both on and off campus, check out the department's webpage about student research. And please feel free to ask any faculty member about getting involved in research.
Swarthmore is a member of the Keck consortium. They host a yearly student research symposium in the fall and sponsor a student summer research exchange program.
Sigma Xi gives out grants in aid of research - money to travel, etc. for research. Their application deadlines are March 15 and October 15.
Local Astronomical Community
In June 2010 we hosted the seventh Philadelphia Area Astronomers Meeting, affectionately known as AstroPhilly.
In fall 2009 we participated in a series of events celebrating the International Year of Astronomy, commemorating Galileo's first astronomical use of the telescope, in 1609. This program, called No Night Without A Telescope, brought several hundred people to the Swarthmore campus and the Peter van de Kamp Observatory to hear lectures and look at Jupiter and other celestial objects.
There are roughly five colloquia in the department each semester.
You can access information about current astronomical events and the night sky.
There is a telescope open house each month. It is on the second Tuesday of the month and is held from 8 to 9 PM from October through March and from 9 to 10 PM from April through September. Call 610-957-6335 for information (but do not leave any messages there; if you require a reply, please email us at physics -at- swarthmore -dot- edu).
Note: Check back here or at the phone hotline on the day of the open house to make sure that the open house hasn't been canceled by bad weather. The weather can change up until the last minute, so you may want to call in the evening before setting out just to make sure the open house is on. You can check the weather data and models yourself to see what the prospects are for clear skies.
Astro 5/Physics 5: Spacetime, Quanta, and Cosmology is a course taught for the first time in fall 2006, by Profs. Michael Brown and Eric Jensen. It is an introductory course focusing on special relativity, quantum mechanics, and cosmology. It has no prerequisites, and is suitable for any Swarthmore student who has an interest in physics and astronomy. It has six lab meeting scheduled plus one nighttime observing session. It is an NSEP course and is the entry point into the major (physics, astrophysics, or astronomy).
Astro 1 is our introductory survey course.
Astro 16 is a calculus-based modern astrophysics course, generally taken by sophomores who are thinking of majoring. The occasional humanities major takes it too.
Astro 61 is a half-credit class in which we read and discuss articles in the research literature.
Students interested in upper-level courses on galaxies and cosmology are encouraged to take advantage of the offerings in the Haverford Department of Physics and Astronomy, notably Astronomy 342 and 344.
We offered a special seminar in spring, 2005: Astro 129: Cosmology, taught by Prof. Chris Burns.
Two new classes are being offered in Spring 2013: Astro 94: Exoplanet Research at the Peter van de Kamp Observatory and Astro 20: Black Holes and the Big Bang.