The physics department is proud to offer an undergraduate minor in Astronomy, as well as research opportunities using the department’s telescopes, spectrometer, and CCD camera. The Reno campus has long offered observing from the Planetarium and from Leifson Physics. In 2011, these resources were further augmented with the opening of the MacLean Observatory at the Redfield Campus in South Reno. The observatory features twin observing domes with 22-inch and 14-inch telescopes. We are also a partner institution of the 0.7 meter robotic Great Basin Observatory located in Great Basin National Park in Eastern Nevada (an International Dark Sky Park). This is the only research-grade telescope in a U.S. National Park. Undergraduate and graduate students also perform original research using ground-based radio telescopes (e.g., the Very Large Array) and space-based telescopes operated by NASA (e.g., the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope).
The Astronomy Minor is designed to attract students not only from the sciences, but also such diverse majors as Anthropology, Journalism, and Education. Most departments have a range of research projects that would benefit from these studies. A senior thesis project - in which students complete an astronomical research project of their choosing - caps off the minor.