Image of a spiral galaxy as observed the Hubble telescope.
Photo of a starry night sky framed by the silhouettes of forest trees and a distant
About the Astronomy Program
Get Started on the Path Toward a 4-year Degree in Astronomy
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.
Program Level Outcomes
Upon completion of the Astronomy Courses, students will be able to explain:
Key principles of astronomy, using applicable vocabulary, including employing the
scientific method to organize, prioritize, and problem-solve.
How and where the human species fits into the immense, complex, and ever-changing
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
Many colleges and universities offer baccalaureate degrees in this field. Students
planning to transfer to a four-year college or university need to know which courses
completed at Santa Monica College will be accepted at the specific college/university.
Please consult a Counselor. SMC has transfer articulation agreements with the many UC and CSU campuses, as well as many private and out-of-state institutions.
Currently, there are no degrees or certificates offered in this discipline at Santa
Monica College. Most students should plan to transfer to a four-year institution to
continue their education toward a degree in this discipline. Transferring students who wish to qualify for an Associate degree before leaving Santa Monica College should discuss their plans with a Counselor before selecting classes.
Additional career options: professor/teacher, observatory night assistant/telescope
operator, director of an observatory, research scientist, director of a planetarium,
curator of a museum, solar researcher, satellite communications/reconnaissance, aerospace
program engineer/programmer, public outreach, park ranger, and environmental/atmospheric
scientist. (This list is by no means comprehensive.)
Need help planning for your major?
Our counselors are here to help you plan your academic classes, goals, and needs.