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 spectra.
Cal Day is Saturday, April 20th
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 clusters.
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 Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect.
Professor Geoff Marcy receives a Templeton Award
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
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 photos.
The 2012 Department T-Shirt Design Contest has ended! The Winning 2012 Department of Astronomy T-Shirt Design has been voted in. T-shirts are priced at $16. Shipping is an extra $5. To place an order, contact Adam Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information, please contact us.
Congratulations to Professor Geoff Marcy for the Alberts Chair appointment in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Watson and Marilyn Alberts established the chair in 1998, as "the first-ever endowed chair that supports the search for extraterrestrial intelligence." The appointment will assist Marcy and his team to develop techniques for detecting habitable planets and related SETI projects.
The Astronomy Department is delighted to announce a newly established award to support high-achieving graduate students in the Department of Astronomy: the Robert J. Trumpler Graduate Student Excellence Award, given in recognition of academic excellence and an outstanding record of involvement in the department or wider astronomical community. Funds from the prize are to be used to fully or partially support travel for field trips, observing, to attend a conference or workshop, or other approved purposes. The first presentation of this prestigious award will be announced in January 2012. That award may be used retroactively for conference or observing travel that was taken in Fall 2011 or for future travel. Thereafter, the award will be announced annually at commencement ceremonies in May. Please see the award page for more information.
Congratulations to Professor Marc Davis for winning the 2011 Gruber Cosmology Prize along with George Efstathiou, Carlos Frenk, and Simon White! The award recognizes “a series of pioneering papers in the 1980s that relied on numerical simulations … to validate the ‘cold dark matter’ theory of cosmic growth.” You can read more about the award here.
The Donald C. Backer Memorial Endowed Student Support Fund was recently established in honor of the late Astronomy Professor, RAL Director, and former department Chair, Don Backer. This fund was established to provide support for graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Astronomy, with preference given to those students with an interest in instrumentation, as this was one of Don's deepest passions. You can learn more about this fund or make a donation here. Through the Chancellor's Challenge program, all donations made by current and retired faculty and staff, as well as donation from current students, are matched dollar for dollar.
You can read the memorial tribute to Don Backer here.
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.
In focus this week:Berkeley astrophysics tied for #1 in the nation in NRC review of PhD programs
See the study for more information