Undergraduate Program in Astronomy

2.7 m control room

Astronomy Students Association at McDonald Observatory

The Department of Astronomy at UT Austin is one of the top 10 astronomy research programs in the United States. Our faculty members are among the worldwide leaders in cosmology, galaxies, stars, the interstellar medium, planets, the solar system, and instrumentation. With twenty-two active teaching faculty, seventeen research scientists, a number of research associates and postdoctoral fellows, 45 graduate and 90 undergraduate students, the department fosters a stimulating and friendly atmosphere that promotes intellectual development and diversity.

Explore Our Universe: Undergraduate Programs at The University of Texas

Brochure (pdf)

Our undergraduate students have the rare opportunity to take classes and conduct research with some of the world's top astronomers. After students complete some core courses, our faculty/research staff offer exciting research opportunities, including working with data taken by NASA's telescopes and with ground-based telescopes all over the world (including our own McDonald Observatory in West Texas), as well as projects in theoretical and computational astrophysics.

We reward excellence in our students through a Freshman Prize for Excellence and numerous merit and research awards for advanced undergraduate students including the Karl G. Henize endowed scholarship, the Board of Visitors scholarship, and the Outstanding Senior Award. We provide financial support for our students to travel to conferences and observatories, including our McDonald Observatory in West Texas, where they benefit from the world's largest telescopes, advanced instrumentation, and dark skies. (Undergraduate Awards)

The Astronomy program helps to prepare undergraduate students for further education in graduate school or/and many career paths spanning education, research, computing, government and journalism. And above all, it gives students the opportunity to join the great intellectual adventures and explorations of astronomy.

If you have questions, please contact us at:

Student Coordinator
Department of Astronomy
University of Texas at Austin
RLM 15.202AA
Austin, TX 78712

phone: (512) 471-3350
fax: (512) 471-6016
hours: M-F: 8-12, 1-5 PM

Undergraduate Advisor
Prof. John Lacy

Assistant Undergraduate Advisor
Dr. Keely Finkelstein

In the News

Taylor Hoyt Wins Eva Stevenson Woods Scholarship

taylor hoyt

Taylor Hoyt

Among the University's most prestigious, the Eva Stevenson Woods Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship has been awarded to third year astronomy and physics major Taylor Hoyt. Taylor has been working with Don Winget and Mike Montgomery in the White Dwarf Group. This summer he will work in Notre Dame's REU program with Dr. Peter Garnavich, analyzing spectra of cataclysmic variables, using Large Binocular Telescope Data. Starting in 2015-16 Taylor serves as Co-President of the Astronomy Students Association (ASA).

Astronomy Students Install New Camera Mount at McDonald

ben helgeson and sierra hickman

Ben Helgeson and Sierra Hickman

Sierra Hickman and Ben Helgeson, members of the White Dwarf Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) group, mounted the group's Pro-EM camera onto both the MONET and 36" telescopes at McDonald Observatory. In order to fit the camera onto the telescopes, they built a mounting plate that was "universal" and could fit both telescopes. Sierra and Ben combined old mount designs for both telescopes into one functional design. They had the design fabricated, with the help of the department machine shop, and installed the mount and camera onto the telescopes.

James Diekmann Wins 2015 Undergraduate Research Forum Award

james diekmann

James Diekmann

Senior student James Diekmann won the CNS Award for Excellence in Astronomy & Astrophysics Research at the recent Undergraduate Research Forum. Under the supervision of Steve Finkelstein, James' research focuses on finding galaxies at high redshift (Z~8). The goal is to constrain the bright end of the luminosity function. By doing this, we can gain insight as to how galaxies have formed since the early universe. Award winners will be honored at the Undergraduate Research Forum Awards Banquet. A full list of awards winners can be found here.

...more at In the News

Astronomy Students Association


freshman research initiative

Freshman Research Initiative

Cosmic Dawn

Exploring the Universe with White Dwarf Stars


Explore UT

CNS Family Day

ASA Trip to McDonald