Letter to Prospective Students

Dear Prospective Graduate Student:

Thank you for your interest in the Astronomy graduate program at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the leading academic institutions of astronomy and astrophysics in the United States. The Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory have many exciting opportunities for graduate training and research. We welcome your application and further inquiries. You will find application materials and instructions, as well as information concerning our program on our website.

The Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas is one of the largest in the United States, with 20 active teaching faculty, 30 research scientists and research associates, approximately 15 postdoctoral fellows, and about 40 graduate students. The research activities of the faculty and staff span virtually all of modern astronomy. Our faculty have won several of the major prizes of the American Astronomical Society, as well as the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1987 Heineman Prize for Astrophysics from the American Institute of Physics and American Astronomical Society, the 2007 Newton Lacy Pierce and 2009 Education Prizes from the American Astronomical Society, and the 2013 Klumpke-Roberts award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Numerous other prizes and fellowships have been awarded to our faculty members, placing us among the top American astronomical institutions. The large number of highly qualified research astronomers means that every student can receive individual attention and work closely with some of the top people in their field of interest. A list of our faculty and research scientists with a brief description of their main research interests can be found on our website as well.

The University of Texas operates McDonald Observatory, located in the Davis Mountains about 450 miles west of Austin. The night sky in this part of the country is unusually dark. At present, the Observatory operates the 9.2m Hobby Eberly Telescope, as well as the 2.7-meter, 2.1-meter, 0.9-meter, and .76-meter reflecting telescopes. The observatory is equipped with a wide range of state-of-the-art instrumentation for optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy. We also have one of the first and most productive lunar ranging stations. Graduate students are given substantial direct access to all of the telescopes at McDonald Observatory, including the submillimeter telescope, with additional time being granted to their advisors for joint projects. In Austin, graduate students have access to the University's super-computers “Stampede” and "Lonestar", sophisticated visualization hardware, and technical support for software and instrumentation development.

Thank you for considering The University of Texas at Austin Department of Astronomy for your graduate studies.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Daniel Jaffe
Chair, Department of Astronomy