AST 105 Solar System Astronomy
A study of the Sun, planets, and the solar neighborhood. Development of the physical principles required to understand astronomical observations.
Our program is flexible, so you tailor your studies to fit your interests. You can concentrate in general physics, astrophysics or physics for education, or pursue a five-year, dual-degree program in physics and engineering. Whatever your choice, you work closely with professors and peers on challenging coursework. The low faculty-to-student ratio and the tight-knit, friendly atmosphere in the department ensure you get to know your professors and peers both in and out of class.
Long- and short-term research projects are integral to your studies. We offer many opportunities for semester-long independent study projects and multi-year projects, including honors theses. Most students also conduct research with professors. You could co-author or even first author an article in a major journal. Students have traveled as far as Paris, Moscow and Zermatt to do research or present their work, and have attended meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research.
Our research facilities include a 1 MV ion accelerator (one of four at undergraduate institutions in the U.S.), the state's largest recirculating flume used to replicate flow in natural rivers, a photonics lab where work is being done on the interface of light and electronics, and a 20-inch telescope.
You are encouraged to pursue summer internships or research positions either on campus or at other facilities, such as the NASA centers, National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates sites at major universities and national or industrial laboratories. This type of work frequently results in student presentations at national professional meetings or in published papers that are co-authored with research advisers.
Soon after arriving at Connecticut College, Leslie Brown worked with the department to start a new major in astrophysics and a minor in astronomy. Believing that student involvement is important for both her and the students, Brown includes students in her research and has also acted as adviser to students' theses and independent studies.
Beverly Chomiak is interested in high-grade metamorphic rocks and metamorphosed ore deposits, particularly stratabound and volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits. Her specialty is studying fluid inclusions - the tiny bubbles in rocks that have trapped the fluids from which rock minerals are precipitated. She helps other faculty in many disciplines integrate GIS into their curricula.
A 1997 alumnus, Mohamed Diagne returned to Connecticut College in 2009. He teaches General Physics labs (sections 1 and 3), Concepts in Contemporary Physics, Classical Mechanics and Formalism of the Quantum Theory (required for deeper understanding and further studies in contemporary physics.)
Mike Monce's teaching interests span from introductory courses to senior level quantum mechanics. He leads a two-semester sequence of laboratory work in experimental physics and a semester of advanced laboratory instruction.
In addition to his research on Lorentz symmetry, Michael Seifert is interested in the physics of music and sound, as well as the interface between physics and philosophy. He teaches Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetic Theory and General Physics (Lab).
Doug Thompson's research falls within the discipline of geology and the sub-discipline of fluvial geomorphology. Geomorphology is best defined as the study of the landforms and the natural processes responsible for their formation. Many of the geomorphic topics of interest include the landforms and processes associated with rivers, glaciers, landslides, beaches and arid regions.
Michael Weinstein has taught first-year "studio" physics, which combines lectures with hands-on labs, since 2005. He continues to teach introductory astronomy labs and lectures to non-science majors, explaining how science is applied to the cosmos to reveal its mysteries.
A: I was drawn by the small classes in the sciences and music. And Tempel Green and the Arboretum provided a beauty that was and still is unmatched by other NESCAC schools.
A: In one word: personal. There is an abundance of one-on-one time with each professor for each science class. My average physics class is six people. Lectures feel a lot more like discussions in small classes. Small liberal arts colleges provide the means for undergraduate research, which can be invaluable when applying to graduate school.
A: I worked in Professor Diagne's photonics lab in the spring semester of my freshman year and had the fortune to do metamaterial plasmonics research with a colleague of his at UMass Lowell the following summer. Last year I did laser speckle research for the Sackler Undergraduate Research Program at Yale.