Although MIT does not have a formal Astronomy Department, undergraduate academic programs in astronomy at MIT reside both in the Department of Physics (astrophysics) and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (planetary astronomy), which offer a variety of courses in astronomy and astrophysics. An undergraduate choosing Physics as a major can pursue the study of astronomy in either the Flexible or Focused option. To study astronomy when majoring in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, one would choose the Planetary Science option. An astronomy minor is jointly offered by both departments, and undergraduates can participate in research under the auspices of MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Prospective graduate students in astronomy have the same choice: those with particular interest in planetary astronomy should apply to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and those interested in other areas of astronomy should apply to the Department of Physics. A variety of graduate courses are offered by both departments. Graduate work in exoplanets can be pursued in either department.

MIT operates two observatories, both located in Westford Massachusetts: (1) the George R. Wallace Jr. Astrophysical Observatory, which is devoted to undergraduate teaching and research that can be accomplished with small telescopes and (2) the Haystack Observatory, which is an interdisciplinary research center focused on radio astronomy, geodesy, and atmospheric science. MIT is also a 10% partner in the two Magellan optical telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory, which is a two-hour drive north of La Serena, Chile.

Research in astronomy by members of the Physics faculty is carried out in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, while astronomy research by members of the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences faculty is carried out in one of several laboratories: the Planetary Astronomy Laboratory, the MIT-NASA IRTF Remote Observing Laboratory, the Planetary Dynamics Laboratory, and the MIT Exoplanet Institute.

 

  

Last revised June 20, 2007. If you have questions, contact schech@mit.edu.