The Undergraduate Experience
The Boston University Astronomical Society
For decades the BU Astronomical Society has been an integral part of the undergraduate experience in the department. The (BUAS) sponsors a number of field trips each year to observatories in the area. A number of students have visited the Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona to use the 72-inch Perkins Telescope for amateur observing.
Almost all undergraduate majors participate in research with a faculty advisor. Faculty research interests include observational and theoretical studies in galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, magnetospheric and ionospheric physics, solar and heliosphere physics, planetary atmospheres, comets, solar system plasma physics, star formation and galactic structure, variable stars, active galaxies and quasars, high-energy astrophysics, cosmology, and relativity.
The department has a partnership with Lowell Observatory and shares the operation and use of the Discovery Channel Telescope. We also make use of Lowell’s 72″ Perkins telescope. The department has developed both visible light (PRISM) and infrared (MIMIR) detectors which were built at Boston University with undergraduate assistance. The Lowell telescopes are used both for research and teaching.
Department members are also actively involved in research programs using space probes, airborne infrared telescopes, satellites, and sounding rockets. More details on the research of astronomy faculty can be found under the Research tab at the top of the page.
Many students enjoy observational astronomy outside of the classroom setting. Boston University provides many opportunities for observing. On the roof of the College of Arts and Sciences building, the Judson Boardman Coit Observatory deploys a 6.5″ refractor, four portable 8″ reflectors, a 10″ reflector, and a 14″ Celestron reflector. Two floors below the observatory the department has a solar/siderostat spectroscopic telescope. Interested students will receive instruction in using these instruments and can obtain free access to these facilities.
A BA in astronomy, astronomy and physics, or geophysics and planetary sciences prepares students for immediate employment or further study leading to research and teaching careers in astrophysics or space science or careers in science education, science management, scientific computing, or science writing. Our graduates have worked for institutions ranging from the Boston Museum of Science to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on projects such as NASA’s Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mirror satellite. Many of our graduates have gone on to graduate school to pursue advanced degrees at institutions including UCLA, Caltech, MIT, the University of Virginia, and the University of Arizona.