Astronomy professor and chair Darby Dyar.

Mount Holyoke astronomy professor Darby Dyar is a participating scientist on NASA's Curiosity mission to Mars. The rover Curiosity landed on August 6 at 1:31 am EDT; Dyar and students will begin receiving and analyzing data from the Red Planet approximately 10 days later.  Prof. Dyar spoke  about her groundbreaking work with the Mars rover Curiosity on the Academic Minute and NEPR/WFCR radio.  To learn more about this exciting research, click here...

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.

Most commonly this takes the form of an interdisciplinary major in astronomy and physics; special majors combining work in geology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics are also available. Alternatively, some students elect to major in any one of these fields, combined with a minor in astronomy. The exact program is always tailored to the student's particular special strengths, interests, and plans; those who are interested--or think they might be--are urged to consult the department as early as possible to plan an appropriate program.