Astronomy & Planetary Sciences Minor

Join in for an era of rapid discovery the likes of which we’ve never seen.

There has been an explosion of new discovery in astronomy and planetary sciences in the past decade, and hardly a week goes by without a headline announcing some major new breakthrough.

These range from finding new Earth-like planets around other stars, to making precise images of the universe soon after the Big Bang, to finding evidence for ice-volcanoes on the moons of Saturn, to finding possible evidence for the most important ingredient for life (liquid water) on the surface of Mars. The next decade promises to bring forth of wealth of new discoveries far surpassing those to date.

Studying astronomy and planetary sciences at Hartwick means you’ll be on the cutting edge of what’s next.


Where a background in astronomy and planetary sciences can take you.

The courses you take will have you studying stuff that is, quite literally, out of this world. However, you will also have opportunities to travel to exotic and interesting places right here on Earth itself.

Students interested in studying astronomy at Hartwick have traveled to major telescope facilities in places like tropical Arecibo, Puerto Rico (National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center), and the mountains of West Virginia (Green Bank Observatory). Some are taught to identify molecules present in space using cutting-edge laboratory equipment with Dr. Dudek at a top astrophysics institute in Cologne, Germany.

Others learn to use the largest radio telescopes in the world, guided by Dr. Troischt as part of a major nationally funded research effort in extragalactic astronomy (ALFALFA). Students interested in studying volcanism (a part of planetary sciences) have chances to travel to volcanic sites at places such as Hawaii, Barbados, and Monserrat where they get hands-on experience in field techniques with Dr. Johnson.


Beyond the basic.

The past few years have also seen the launching of an entirely new branch of astronomy through the direct detection of gravity waves using devices called interferometers. These waves were predicted by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago, but their direct detection required the use of advanced technology and the most precise scientific instrument ever built. Seeing them is like Galileo using a telescope for the first time.

At Hartwick, students learn to use interferometers in their first semester on campus, in a course called Light and Relativity (PHYS160). Gravity waves have opened up an entirely new widow on the universe and offer us information never before available.


Putting astronomy and planetary sciences to work.

Upon graduating from Hartwick, students studying astronomy typically go on pursue STEM graduate degrees or start employment in STEM-related fields. Previous students have gone to graduate school not just for astronomy and astrophysics, but also for neuroscience, electrical engineering, medical school, biophysics, civil engineering, materials science, and nanotechology.

Hartwick students are studying at graduate schools including:

  • Columbia University
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Virginia
  • The University of Vermont
  • The University of Rochester
  • The University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • Tufts University
  • Baylor University School of Medicine
  • SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Meet the astronomy and planetary sciences faculty.

John Dudek
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Princeton University
Areas of expertise:
cavity ring-down spectroscopy, chemical kinetics and thermodynamics
Eric Johnson
Professor of Geology & Environmental Sciences
Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton
Areas of expertise:
Petrology and Structural Geology, Geological History of the Adirondack Mountains, Field Mapping, Meteorology
Parker Troischt
Associate Professor of Physics, Astronomy & Planetary Sciences Program Director
Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Areas of expertise:
Extragalactic astronomy, general relativity, and cosmology, star formation, gas content, and the impact of environment on galaxies and galaxy clusters.
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