Astronomy Program at UH Hilo
The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers an exciting undergraduate astronomy program designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers in astronomy and other sciences.
The university offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Astronomy. It is the only under-graduate astronomy major offered in the state of Hawaiʻi. UH Hilo's astronomy program emphasizes training in observational astronomy, physics, mathematics and computer skills.
The initial two years of the program consist mainly of general education courses that are part of traditional liberal arts education, as well as basic physics, mathematics and introductory astronomy. The junior and senior years are largely devoted to advanced physics and astronomy coursework, observational experience, and senior thesis projects. Students who intend to graduate in four years should be prepared to enroll in elementary calculus and physics courses at the start of their freshman year.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy has instituted a guarantee to assure that students will find the courses they need to graduate with a Physics or Astronomy degree when they need them. This policy and guarantee are posted on the following pages.
The university is located 45 miles from the 14,000 foot summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, that is home to many of the biggest and best telescopes in the world. Many of the observatories have their headquarters right on the UH Hilo campus.
Astronomy majors at UH Hilo get real hands-on experience by participating in research projects with faculty members and observatory staff. Some of these projects make use of telescopes on Mauna Kea, as well as, the Hubble Space Telescope, and other observatories. UH Hilo astronomy students also have previously had access to the university's own 24-inch (0.6m) telescope on Mauna Kea which was equipped with electronic detectors for imaging and spectroscopy. The 24-inch telescope has now been decommissioned and the New 36-inch (0.9m) Educational Telescope for student learning and research has been installed in the newly upgraded observatory to take its place in the department's educational program. The new telescope is currently being evaluated, and re-engineered for use as an educational telescope. With the new 36-inch telescope and the new Science and Technology Building, on campus, students and faculty will be able to remotely operate the telescope from the UH Hilo campus, near sea level. In addition, advanced students have the opportunity of internships at the various Mauna Kea observatories with headquarters on and off campus.
If you're serious about wanting to study astronomy, then it's hard to imagine a better place than the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo! See more detailed information about our astronomy course offerings.
Want to find out more about careers in astronomy? The American Astronomical Society has an interesting brochure titled A New Universe to Explore: Careers in Astronomy.
Got questions? Prospective students can get more information about the Physics and Astronomy programs at UH Hilo by contacting Prof. Wm. D. Heacox.