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Why Astronomy?

What is Astronomy?

Webster’s dictionary defines “astronomy” as “the science that deals with the material universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere.” It is the study of the physics and chemistry of celestial objects - such as stars, planets, nebulae, and galaxies - and the determination of their positions and motions; it is the study of the nature and evolution of the Universe and everything within it.

Why should I study Astronomy?

Many students with a degree in astronomy go on to rewarding careers as researchers and educators. Others work for national observatories, research centers, private industry, museums and planetariums, or in journalism and public relations. A major in astronomy provides a solid foundation in mathematics and physics, and most gain experience with computer programming and statistics as well. This can be an attractive package of skills for employers.

Any prospective astronomy students should read A New Universe to Discover: A Guide to Careers in Astronomy from the American Astronomical Society. This guide provides details of how to become a professional astronomer as well as the many careers open to those with an astronomy degree.

Why study Astronomy at Illinois?

The University of Illinois is a leading research institution in observational astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, astronomical imaging, and cosmology. Our faculty members have access to world class facilities, such as the CARMA radio telescope array, optical telescopes around the world from Arizona to Antarctica, space-based telescopes including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and state-of-the-art supercomputers at NCSA. The University of Illinois places a high value on undergraduate research, and many advanced students participate in research projects with astronomy faculty during the summers and/or fall/spring semesters.