​​​​​​About Astronomy at SMC

Astronomers study the solar system, stars, galaxies, and space using principles of physics and mathematics. Their work adds to the basic scientific knowledge about the nature of the Universe. Astronomers study planets, stars, novas, and colliding gases between stars in an attempt to determine how they were formed, what they are made of, and how they change. This field of science also leads to a better understanding of the Earth and its ecosystem.

Degrees & Certificates

Currently there are no degrees or certificates offered in this discipline. Transfer students in the major who wish to qualify for an Associates degree should select either the Liberal Arts or General Science major.

Additional graduation requirements for the Associates degree from Santa Monica College are listed in the Academics section of the catalog as well as online at www.smc.edu/articulation.

Career Options

This list is not comprehensive.

Professor/teacher, observatory night assistant/telescope operator, Director of an Observatory, research scientist, Director of a Planetarium, aerospace engineer, curator of a museum, solar researcher, satellite communications/reconnaissance, space program engineer, public outreach, park ranger, environmental/atmospheric scientist, space program programmer.



Simon Balm PhD: (310) 434-8651, balm_simon@smc.edu

Michael Schwartz PhD: (310) 434-8924, schwartz_michael@smc.edu


Tersi Arias-Young MS​: arias_tersi@smc.edu​

Gary Fouts MS: fouts_gary@smc.edu

Jesse Goldbaum PhD: goldbaum_jesse@smc.edu

Ahmed Salama PhD​: salama_ahmed@smc.edu

Heywood Sobel MS: sobel_heywood@smc.edu

Program Level Outcomes

Upon completion of an Astronomy Courses:

  1. Students will be able to explain key principles of astronomy using applicable vocabulary; including employing the scientific method to organize, prioritize, and problem solve.

  2. Students will explain how and where the human species fits into the immense, complex and ever-changing universe.

Astronomy Courses

All classes meet IGETC and GE transfer requirements. Courses are not sequential; there are no prerequisites unless indicated.

  • Astronomy 1: Stellar Astronomy
  • Astronomy 2: Planetary Astronomy
  • Astronomy 3: Stellar Astronomy with a Lab
  • Astronomy 4: Planetary Astronomy with a Lab
  • Astronomy 5: Life in the Universe
  • Astronomy 6: Archaeoastronomy
  • Astronomy 7: Cosmology
  • Astronomy 8: Introduction to Astrophysics (Prerequisite: Math 2)
  • Astronomy 9: Astrophysics with Calculus (Prerequisite: Math 8; and Physics 8 or Physics 21)
  • Astronomy 10: Exploration of the Solar System

Other Resources

SMC Planetarium​