Opportunities for students with a casual interest in astronomy
Open houses are held at the observatory from time to time so members of the campus community, the general public, or special groups can view celestial objects through the 24" telescope. There is no set schedule for these events, but they are announced in the local media. Arrangements for group visits can be made by contacting Robert Cadmus (641-269-3016).
A descriptive astronomy course is offered for those students who are interested in learning more about astronomy, but who are not planning to take courses in the regular physics sequence. Students in this course use the observatory both for visual observing and more instrumentation-oriented projects.
Opportunities for students with a more serious, but not professional, interest in astronomy
There are several options available to students who would like to do a modest amount of relatively sophisticated work in astronomy. Astronomy projects are available to students in some physics courses beyond the introductory level and independent study projects can be arranged for students with appropriate backgrounds. Examples of such projects are described below. These students may also be able to participate in the astronomy research programs.
Opportunities for students who are considering a career in astronomy
The resources available at Grinnell are ideal for students who intend to pursue graduate study in astronomy and ultimately become professional astronomers. Although it was not always so, today astronomy is essentially a subdiscipline of physics and a career in astronomy must be built on a strong foundation of physics. In fact, admission to graduate school in astronomy does not require a background in astronomy, but does require a strong physics background. Grinnell offers an academic program that is perfectly suited to this situation: a strong physics curriculum combined with interesting and enlightening hands-on experience in astronomy and a high quality liberal arts education. With the exception of occasional special topics courses in astronomy and astrophysics, Grinnell students who are planning on graduate study in astronomy do not take formal classes in astronomy. Instead they concentrate their course work in physics, and get valuable astronomy experience through individualized activities such as independent study projects and participation in research. This approach has been very successful and Grinnell graduates have a good record of success as astronomers. In recent years each graduating class has included students who have gone on to pursue the Ph. D. degree in astronomy.