Courses in the Astronomy Major
The course requirements for the astronomy major include many of the same courses used for a physics major, and the prerequisites are essentially identical. Here is a formal listing of the courses:
Prerequisites: Math 3, 8, 13, and 23; Physics 13 and 14 (OR 15 and 16). Major: At least eight courses in physics and astronomy, including:
Obviously, if you receive AP credit for a prerequisite, you don't have to repeat the course at Dartmouth.
For official descriptions of these courses, consult the ORC. Very briefly, the required courses are as follows:
Timing. You should be planning to take Astronomy 15 by the spring of your sophomore year if not before. In general, because astronomy is a technical subject, you'll want to start out on the prerequisites as soon as you can -- and if you discover as a first-year student that you can't stand physics, you may wish to reconsider the choice of an astronomy major. Astronomy isn't physics, but they're joined at the hip ...
Other courses. If you're intending to go on to grad school, you'll want to take other courses as well. More physics can't hurt, especially if you're theoretically inclined. Note that graduate courses are open to qualified undergraduates -- you may wish to take courses in either physics or astronomy (though, because of limited resources, the graduate astronomy courses tend to be offered every other year).
And don't forget the elementary courses! These don't carry major credit but can play an important educational role.
A relatively straightforward and non-technical course such as Astronomy 2/3 can be a nice change and whet your
appetite for the hard stuff. Astronomy 1 covers planetary science, a topic which isn't treated elsewhere in the
major curriculum. Because these courses don't go into great technical detail, they tend to have more time to cover
qualitative material, which is important general background. All this can be time well spent!
Click here for the Astronomy Major brochure.