The science of Astronomy is the study of the physical Universe. Its stage ranges from the most distant galaxies, observable through only the most powerful telescopes, to the wonders of the nighttime sky. Astronomers consider processes as small as the interactions between individual atoms and as large as collisions between whole galaxies of stars. Using observation and the application of reason, the ultimate goal of Astronomy is to achieve a detailed understanding of the processes and rules which govern the physical Universe -- including its birth and subsequent evolution -- and of the place of humanity within the Universe.
In keeping with the Augustinian tradition of pursuing and disseminating knowledge, the mission of the Department of Astrophysics & Planetary Science is two-fold: (1) to communicate our growing and exciting new understanding of the Universe to the Villanova community and (2) to participate actively in the acquisition of new astronomical knowledge. We accomplish this mission through our undergraduate courses (offered to science and non-science students alike), public lecture series, public outreach programs, and through the involvement of our faculty and students in astronomical research programs. The Department views excellence in both teaching and research as critical to fulfilling this mission, and seeks to provide a nurturing environment for our students, with vigorous student-faculty interaction. The scholarly accomplishments of our faculty, students, and alumni enhance Villanova's reputation as an outstanding teaching and research institution.
In order to help us to carry out our mission, the Department of Astrophysics & Planetary Science has established a set of goals and objectives. These are summarized below:
Goal 1: Students will demonstrate learning and mastery of knowledge of astrophysics and planetary science.
Objective 1: Students will understand the basic concepts of the scientific method.
Objective 2: Students will apply the scientific method to problems in astrophysics and planetary science.
Goal 2: Students will demonstrate learning and mastery of knowledge in the cross-disciplines of basic physical principles, mathematics, and computer science.
Objective 1: Students will apply the knowledge of mechanics, electricity & magnetism, optics, modern physics, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics.
Objective 2: Students will apply the knowledge of calculus, differential equations, computer programming, and computer modeling.
Goal 3: Students will have strong skills in experimental methods.
Objective 1: Students will be able to collect, analyze, and explain data from physical experiments.
Objective 2: Students will be able to design and carry out simple experiments.
Objective 3: Students will demonstrate competence in the operation of manual and automatic telescopes, in spectroscopy, in photometry, and in CCD imaging.
Goal 4: Students will be able to read and understand scientific literature
Objective 1: Students will be able to read and discuss primary literature in at least one field of astrophysics and planetary science.
Goal 5: Students will be able to communicate scientific concepts effectively both orally and in writing.
Objective 1: Students will write cogent essays and technical reports on projects.
Objective 2: Students will be able to explain their research work.
Objective 3: Students will be able to convert a physical situation articulated in English into a mathematical formulation, and then analyze it quantitatively.
Goal 6: Students will have strong physical reasoning and problem solving skills and apply these skills to the solution of theoretical and applied problems.
Objective 1: Students will master and demonstrate astrophysical research skills.
Objective 2: Students will learn how to work in a research team.
Objective 3: Students will participate in an original research project and present the results at a scientific symposium.