Courses offered by the Department of Physics and Astronomy are designed to bring the student to an increasingly independent level of investigation in experimental and theoretical physics. Denison offers a variety of facilities and equipment for teaching and research in the physical sciences.
Course and laboratory work in astronomy explores the physical and observational background of such topics as the history of astronomy, naked eye observations, the planets and moons, the origin of the solar system, stellar classification, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, and cosmology, with an emphasis on the quantitative nature of modern astronomy.
The mission of the Department of Physics & Astronomy follows from the statement of purpose of the college:
Our purpose is to inspire and educate our students to become autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents, and active citizens…. We seek to engage students in a liberal arts education which fosters self-determination and demonstrates the transformative power of education…. Our curriculum balances breadth with depth…. Our faculty is committed to undergraduate education… effective teaching informed by the best scholarship… (and they) encourage (our) undergraduates to be partners in original investigation….
The Department takes seriously each element of the college’s statement of purpose and adds the following specific mission:
Our courses are designed to bring students to an increasingly independent level of investigation in experimental and theoretical physics, and to a level of sophistication commensurate with their motivation, goals, and abilities.
In our February 2013 retreat, we developed a revised set of specific academic goals, affirming that each of our students should develop:
- an understanding of the principal physical laws which govern the physical world
- a mastery of the fundamental reasoning process used in solving problems
- the ability to use requisite mathematical techniques and computational tools to solve physics problems
- an understanding of electronics and computer measurements
- the ability to identify, organize, and conduct an independent investigation in physics and communicate the results
Astronomy is a natural science that studies planets, stars, galaxies, and space in general. The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a variety of astronomy courses with different levels of depth and mathematical rigor.
A minor in astronomy is available to any Denison student. The student who desires preparation for graduate work in Astronomy, Astrophysics, or Space Physics should pursue a major in Physics with a minor in Astronomy and is encouraged to consult early with faculty in the Physics and Astronomy Department. See Physics Department section.