Learn about planetary astronomy, stellar astrophysics, cosmology and the origins of the universe with opportunities for hands-on research and collaboration.

Astronomy, offered via three Physics Major tracks in the Physics and Astronomy Department and in collaboration with Harvey Mudd College, gives students tools to explore the universe.

Our unparalleled facilities include a mountain-top one-meter telescope, an on-campus observatory, a digital planetarium and an adaptive optics research laboratory.

You’ll have opportunities to do research on campus and at top astronomy facilities such as Caltech and the Carnegie observatories.

Majors earn a B.A. in physics with an astronomy, astrophysics, or Earth, planetary and space sciences track. A minor is also available.

A thesis is required and independent research encouraged, usually in conjunction with faculty research. Recent projects include monitoring active galactic nuclei, quasar absorption line spectroscopy and telescope instrument design.

  • Majors at Pomona: Physics and Astronomy
    Prof. David Tanenbaum discusses the benefits of the Physics and Astronomy Department.
  • Inside Brackett Observatory
    Inside Brackett Observatory
  • Adaptive optics research with Professor Philip Choi
    Adaptive optics research with Professor Philip Choi
  • Table Mountain Observatory with Pomona’s 1-meter telescope
    Table Mountain Observatory

What You'll Study

  • ​Exciting stellar, galactic and cosmic events
  • The history of the universe
  • Astrophysics and celestial mechanics
  • How to design and build astronomical instruments
  • Experimental and data analysis techniques
1 Meter
Our Table Mountain Observatory one-meter telescope is the largest in the world dedicated to undergraduate students.

Researching at Pomona

  • Adam Mitchell '18 observed nine near-earth asteroids in order to analyze and determine their specific orbits and took blind surveys of the sky to potentially discover new near-earth asteroids.
    Blind Observations of Near-Earth Asteroids Using Synthetic Tracking at JPL’s Table Mountain Facility

    Adam Mitchell '18 observed nine near-earth asteroids in order to analyze and determine their specific orbits and took blind surveys of the sky to potentially discover new near-earth asteroids. These faint asteroids are roughly one thousand trillion times fainter than a full moon.

Kutay Nazli ’19

Astronomy is captivating, it is philosophically intriguing. As you calculate the forces on a dust particle in space that coalesces with others for millions of years to eventually become a planet, or witness photons through a telescope at the end of their millennia-long, uninterrupted journey to your eyes, astronomy gives you a sense of scale in both space and time. It reminds me that I am part of a much greater whole.

Faculty & Teaching

The astronomy faculty—with expertise in astrophysics, archeoastronomy, star formation, the physics of active galactic nuclei, gravitational waves, the infrared properties of galaxies, x-ray astronomy and optic systems—frequently involves students in their research projects.

Prof. Bryan Penprase

What distinguishes our Physics and Astronomy programs is the incredible access that students have to facilities that include a one-meter telescope in the San Gabriel Mountains, a scanning electron microscope and other advanced equipment, entirely dedicated to undergraduate research and study. Pomona is also home to many new and innovative instruments our students have helped design and build, most recently our new adaptive optics instrument.