Welcome to the Astronomy Home

The Astronomy branch of Macalester's Physics Department provides a variety of courses as well as edifying facilities for students interested in the study of the universe itself.

The Astronomy Emphasis physics major allows interested students to explore both theoretical and observational astrophysics. These classes build fundamental skills that are suitable for graduate study in exciting areas such as planets, stars, galaxies, and the nature of the cosmos itself.


The Macalester College Observatory will be holding Public Observing Nights during the fall semester on Monday evenings (weather permitting) according to the following schedule:
September 11th through December 11th, from 8:00 - 11:00 p.m.

Astronomy News


2017-01-AAS meeting students.jpgMacalester students presented research results at the 229th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, TX, 3-6 January 2017.

Front row, L to R:  Elizabeth Ruvolo, Karen Perez Sarmiento, Quinton Singer, Alex Gordon.

Back row, L to R:  Catie Ball, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, Brian Eisner, Masao Miazzo, Bridget Reilly.

PHYS 440 visits VLS

PHYS 440 at Very Large Array

The students enrolled in PHYS 440 (Observational Astronomy) visited the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope near Socorro, New Mexico. The students are analyzing new VLA observations as part of their coursework. Pictured left to right: Annika Brock, Brian Eisner, Asra Nizami, Masao Miazzo, Bridget Reilly, Kathleen Fitzgibbon, Elizabeth Ruvolo, Jahn Banovetz, Catie Ball, Quinton Singer.


AAS Meeting-Jan 2015.jpg

Macalester students and staff attended the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, WA, 4-8 January 2015. (l to r): Ned Molter, Andrew McNichols, Yaron Teich, Tayeb Zaidi, Asra Nizami, Sophia Wiedmann, Erik Alfvin, Charlotte Martinkus, Cedric Hagen. (Photo by John Cannon)

Macalester part of three-year collaborative NSF grant promoting undergraduate research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Macalester College and 18 other colleges and universities across the United States a three-year collaborative grant in the amount of $437,883 in support of undergraduate research.  The 19 undergraduate-focused institutions are a consortium known as “The Undergraduate ALFALFA Team” (UAT). This NSF-funded work with UAT will provide Macalester Astronomy Professor John M. Cannon and his undergraduates hands-on observation and data analysis experience at world-class observing facilities in Puerto Rico and New Mexico. NSF grant promoting undergraduate research press release

NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Grant Received

This “Research at Undergraduate Institutions” award, totaling $295,659, provides three years of support for the “Survey of HI in Extremely Low-mass Dwarfs” (SHIELD). SHIELD, led at Macalester by Professor John Cannon, is an ongoing study, using data from various ground- and space-based observatories, of the physical characteristics of extremely low-mass galaxies in the local universe. Grant to study mysterious galaxies 10-11-2012