The Department of Astronomy offers undergraduate and graduate
instruction in a wide variety of fields, including theoretical and
observational astrophysics; infrared, optical, and radio astronomy;
galactic structure and dynamics of stellar systems; high-energy
astrophysics and cosmology; and spectroscopy. A considerable amount of
research and teaching related to astronomy is done in other units at
Berkeley, including the Space Science Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley
Laboratory, and the Physics Department. Various professors in the
Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and
Engineering departments have an active interest in astronomy and are
available for consultation.
Many instruments are available to students and staff, including
two 10-meter telescopes at the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii,
30-inch, 40-inch and 120-inch telescopes at Lick Observatory, a
16-element millimeter-wave interferometer in Southern California,
the PAPER Array in South Africa, and
a 30-inch telescope at Leuschner Observatory (near the campus).
Laboratories are available for the development of radio, infrared, and
optical instruments, and for the precise measurement of images and
Astronomy C12 - The Planets
This 3 unit course fulfills the L&S breadth requirements for Physical Science. Please see this flyer for details.
Summer Session Course begins May 27th
Professor Eugene Chiang Receives 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award
On March 13th 2014, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced faculty member Dr. Eugene Chiang as a recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Chiang has been a professor with the Astronomy department since 2001 and currently serves as director of the Berkeley Center for Integrative Planetary Science. His research focuses on theoretical astrophysics, with an emphasis on understanding the origin of planetary systems, both extra-solar and solar. Dr. Chiang is an active member within the campus community: In addition to acting as head Graduate Advisor for the Astronomy Department, he serves on multiple committees which include the Berkeley Committee on Undergraduate Scholarships, Honors, and Financial Aid and is the Astronomy Liaison and Co-I for the Berkeley Science and Diversity program. On April 23rd the campus honored Dr. Chiang's excellence in teaching with a public ceremony: in attendance were members of the chancellor's office, the department, Dr. Chiang's family and colleagues, and many of his undergraduate and graduate students.
Raymond & Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Astronomy
David Spergel, Princeton University
What happened during the first moments of the big bang? What is the dark
energy? What were the properties of the first stars? In this free public
lecture held last October 16, Dr. Spergel discussed the role of ongoing and
future CMB observations and described how the combination of large-scale
structure, supernova and CMB data could be used to address these key
2013 Winning T-Shirt Design
The Annual Departmental T-Shirt Design Contest continues to provide
distraction from the rigors of astrophysics and an opportunity to explore
hidden artistic and creative talents.
This year's winner was "Baseball," submitted by graduate student, Adam
Morgan. His design, as well as previous designs, are all
available for purchase online.
2013 Shirts: $16 plus shipping
Shirts prior to 2013: $14 plus shipping
The T-shirt design contest is held each year at the start of the Spring
Semester, with the winning design selected and printed in time for Cal Day in
April. All Astronomy Department students, staff, faculty, postdocs, and
researchers are welcome to submit their designs for consideration. The
winning design is determined by departmental vote. The new contest will
launch in January 2014 -- stay tuned for more information.
Kinematic SZ effect observation highlighted by Physics World
Nick Hand from the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues at the
Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic
Survey (BOSS) were named by Physics World as one of the top 10 breakthroughs
in 2012 for being the first to detect the large-scale motion of galaxy
The motions of distant galaxy clusters tell us much about how the universe
formed and sheds light on the mysterious dark matter and dark energy. Some
40 years ago, the Russian physicists Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel'dovich
discovered that this motion could be observed by measuring a slight
temperature shift in the cosmic-microwave-background (CMB) radiation. Now,
in a triumph of precision cosmology, Nick Hand and colleagues at ACT and
BOSS have produced the first ever observation of the kinematic
Professor Geoff Marcy receives a Templeton Award
When science borders on science fiction
Astronomer Geoff Marcy and cosmologist and string theorist Raphael Bousso are among 20 scientists awarded research grants to explore innovative and edgy areas of science. In the case of Marcy and Bousso, these areas are on the border between science and science fiction.
Professor Alex Filippenko flies with the Blue Angels
Astronomer jets up, up and away with Blue Angels
Astronomy faculty member, Alex Filippenko, had the thrill of being taken for a ride in one of the Navy's elite Blue Angels jet fighters during Fleet Week. Filippenko flew as part of the Blue Angels' Key Influencers program, in part because of Filippenko's role in the research that led to last year's Nobel Prize in physics. Filippenko's jet was piloted by Navy Lt. Mark Tedrow, who took Berkeley’s well-known black hole expert through rolls and turns where he felt the effects of 6.2 Gs — more than six times the force of gravity — as well as weightlessness at 0 G and even negative Gs, all perfect conditions for experiments that will wow his Astro 10 students.
Professor Quataert receives $500,000+ as new 2012 Simons Investigator
Eliot Quataert, Astronomy Professor and Director of the Theoretical
Astrophysics Center at Berkeley, was recently selected as a 2012 Simons
Investigator. Quataert was among 21 mathematicians, theoretical physicists and
theoretical computer scientists across the country chosen for this prestigious
award. Each award recipient will receive $100,000 per year for five to ten
years to pursue whatever research they want.
This is the inaugural year for the Simons Investigator Program. It was
established by the Simons Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to
advancing the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. The
goal of this new program is to provide a stable base of support for
outstanding scientists in their most productive years, enabling them to
undertake long-term study of fundamental questions.
Quataert specializes in modeling gas clouds, in particular clouds of ionized
gas called plasma, and how this gas behaves in stars, galaxies and even close
to black holes. Using approaches that range from pencil and paper calculations
to simulations on some of the world's largest supercomputers, he can calculate
the intensity and frequency of radiation produced to compare it with what
astronomers observe. According to Quataert, "This kind of support is critical
for pursuing problems where you don't necessarily know what you're doing;
they're just interesting."
For more information, please visit
the news center post.
The Campbell Hall demolition party was a success. After presenting the
demoltion plans and the construction schedule for New Campbell, our department
chair, Imke de Pater took down one of the last remaining pieces of drywall.
Imke, Eliot, and Carl celebrate a successful demolition. Additional
Following on from the Astronomy Department's successful
celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, volunteers and
speakers from the department are taking part in a series of talks and other
activities which celebrate the breadth of scientific research, including
astronomy, taking place at UC Berkeley. For more
details, visit the Science@Cal Lecture Series website.