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LSC-University Park launches astronomy courses

Students will have their eyes on the western sky this fall when the physics department at LSC-University Park introduces two astronomy courses.

Bill Madigan, a retired nuclear physicist, will teach Stellar Astronomy (PHYS 1403) and Planetary Astronomy (PHYS 1404), both of which will be offered during evening hours.

 Image of a telescope
Courses will include telescope time. 

LSC-University Park Math & Sciences Dean Veronique Tran said the added courses help give students more options. 

 Stellar Astronomy focuses on stars and nebula, while Planetary Astronomy centers around the planets. Both courses will use the same textbook, but neither is a prerequisite for the other. Students can take whichever interests them -- or both. Neither requires math higher than Pre-Algebra (MATH 0306.)

"One good goal for the students is that at the end of the course they'll be able to go outside and see something they recognize and even be able to say something about some of the stars," Madigan said. 

The courses have come together quickly. Professor Sarada Moturu said she approached LSC-University Park President Shah Ardalan about adding the courses at a roundtable discussion in May.

Moturu said Ardalan was very receptive and provided funding for astronomy equipment. High-powered telescopes have been ordered, and the instructors are scouting the best location on campus for students to use them.