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Physics & Astronomy

student presenting in class eclipse viewing

Department Overview

The Physics and Astronomy Department offers a wide variety of classes, including an ambitious curriculum of advanced seminars for our physics, astrophysics, and astronomy majors, but also many introductory classes for all students. As befits a department of scientists with a strong liberal arts outlook, these include several interdisciplinary offerings from gender in science to the earth and its climate.

Students in our department have many opportunities for exploration and discovery, including frequent participation in original research with faculty members. These experiences prepare our students well for the top physics and astronomy graduate programs, and also for graduate programs in education, engineering, law, international relations, and other fields - as well as for a range of careers after they leave Swarthmore. In preparing our students for their lives after Swarthmore, we strive to convey the excitement of physics and astronomy, which explore the most basic and enduring questions about the universe. We also strive to build community and work collaboratively and create an environment where each person can learn and grow and have their contributions respected. Please read our statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion and also on academic support.

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Peter van de Kamp Observatory

The Peter van de Kamp Observatory, atop the Science Center, houses a 24-inch RCOS telescope with a suite of imaging, photometric, and spectroscopic instrumentation. It is used by Swarthmore faculty, staff, and students for research, teaching, and outreach and is open to the public the second Tuesday of each month.

Peter van de Kamp Observatory