The universe is a compelling laboratory.

Modern astronomy is concerned with understanding the nature of the universe and the various structures — galaxies, stars, planets, atoms — within it. Astronomy is interested not only in describing these things, but in understanding how they are formed and how they change, and, ultimately, in reconstructing the history of the universe. This understanding is always based upon the same set of theories and practices—physics, chemistry, materials science, mathematics, computer science—that are used to understand the earth and its immediate surroundings. For this reason, students are strongly encouraged to base their study of the universe upon a firm grounding in one of these disciplines.