Planetary Science and Astronomy, Minor

Program Code: PASTR_UMNR

Program Description

Planetary Science and Astronomy minors will study the Solar System, stars, galaxies and the universe as a whole. Students will survey a wide variety of topics in astronomy and will learn to solve problems to see how this general knowledge has been obtained. Students will use telescopes to obtain astronomical data, and will learn to analyze these data to constain astronomical theories. Communication of these topics, both oral and written, to the public and to their peers will be emphasized, as will logic and general problem-solving skills. It will serve students who want to acquire a significant knowledge of the universe as they pursue majors in unrelated fields of study. For example, this minor will serve students who are seeking careers in science education at the 6-12 level, in elementary education, in science journalism, and in geoscience.

What is Planetary Science and Astronomy?

Planetary Science and Astronomy is the study of the Earth system in the context of the Solar System and the universe as a whole. The Planetary Science and Astronomy minor provides an introduction to the fundamentals of this field of study. It focuses on astronomy of objects and phenomena in the Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, and in the Universe. The focus is on conceptual study, and includes some quantitative astrophysics and in quantitative analysis of astronomical data.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You want to go deeper into questions about black holes, life in the Universe, and the origin of the Universe.
  • You want to learn how to use small telescopes and to conduct astronomical observations.
  • You have an interest in science communication or science education.
  • You are interested in planetary science and want to complement your major.

Program Requirements

Requirement Credits
Requirements for the Minor 19

Requirements for the Minor

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the minor, as specified by Senate Policy 59-10. In addition, at least six credits of the minor must be unique from the prescribed courses required by a student's major(s).

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ASTRO 401Fundamentals of Planetary Science and Astronomy4
ASTRO 402WAstronomical Telescopes, Techniques, and Data Analysis3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select one of the following:3
Astronomical Universe Keystone/General Education Course
The Sky and Planets Keystone/General Education Course
Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe Keystone/General Education Course
Elementary Astronomy Keystone/General Education Course
Elementary Astronomy Laboratory Keystone/General Education Course
Astronomical Methods and the Solar System Keystone/General Education Course
Select three of the following:9
The Big Bang Universe Keystone/General Education Course
Black Holes in the Universe Keystone/General Education Course
Life in the Universe Keystone/General Education Course
Astronomy of the Distant Universe

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Robert Morehead
Assistant Teaching Professor and Associate Head, Undergraduate Programs
507 Davey Lab
University Park, PA 16802


University Park

525 Davey Lab
University Park, PA 16802