Why Astronomy at SDSU?

San Diego State University is the only institution in the California State University system that offers an independent bachelor’s degree in astronomy. Students in the undergraduate and master’s degree program actively learn to collect astronomical observations and conduct scientific research.

Undergraduate students are trained to apply the scientific method to the realm of astronomy and astrophysics, which requires a solid foundation in physics and mathematics. Additionally, our students obtain useful skills in programming in Python and MATLAB as well as how to assemble and maintain modern astronomy instruments.

Wooded mountains at sunset with three white observatory towers visible amongst the trees

Our Own Observatories

Less than an hour from downtown San Diego, nestled in the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest, lies Mount Laguna Observatory, operated by the SDSU Department of Astronomy. With a high percentage of clear nights and protection from the urban lighting of San Diego, this is one of the best overall observatory sites in the continental United States.

Man standing inside an observatory tower with a red telescope with wooded mountains in the background

Research Telescopes

The 1.25-meter Phillips Claud telescope, one-meter telescope and .6-meter Clifford Smith telescope collect a variety of astronomical data, including age of and distance to star clusters.

A greyscale image of the night sky, with the Milky Way visible, above the multi-camera EvryScope


SDSU's Mount Laguna Observatory houses one of two EvryScopes in the world. The multi-camera array is excellent for detecting eclipsing binaries and stellar activity.

Buller telescope pointed out of observatory portal

Outreach Telescope

The .5-meter Reginald Buller telescope is used for instructional purposes and to share our love of astronomy with the public.

SDSU's Department of Astronomy offers incredible opportunities for students to gain experience as leaders, researchers and science teachers. Frequent outreach events and department gatherings foster a close-knit feel among students and faculty.

As Many Career Options As There Are Galaxies in the Universe

Many of our graduates find employment in industry, with astronomical observatories or with government agencies. Potential jobs include but are not limited to working as a technician, image analyst, instrument maker, optician, software developer, telescope operator, science communicator, astronomy researcher or teacher.

Employment opportunities for astronomers with advanced degrees include positions at colleges and universities, national observatories and government laboratories, planetariums, and in industry and private companies.

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Amanda Bayless ('06), Research Scientist at The Aerospace Corporation

"The Astronomy Department gave me a great foundation to continue with my graduate studies, earn a Ph.D. and go on to an astronomy career."

Man wearing glasses and an SDSU polo shirt in front of Zoom background showing the sun above an observatory

Jamey Eriksen ('95), Director of Operations at Apache Point Observatory

"SDSU Astronomy influences every day of my life. I get to work at an observatory and then when I go home, my wife Stacy is an SDSU Astronomy grad as well."

Man smiling at camera with computer screens showing vibrant astronomical images in the background

Harish Khandrika ('14), Staff Scientist at Space Telescope Science Institute

"The experience, the guidance and the training that I received at San Diego State were crucial to my recruitment at Space Telescope Science Institute."

An older man looks into the camera of a Zoom meeting; in the background is an illustration of an astronaut in a spacesuit

David DeVorkin ('68), Senior Curator for History of Astronomy at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

"I remember my time at San Diego State very warmly. It was a time when I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with my astronomy interests and San Diego State more than helped me reignite my passion for astronomy."

A smiling woman with glasses sits in her office with a bookcase and four framed astronomy photos behind her

Quyen Hart ('99), Senior Education and Outreach Scientist and Webb Science Communications Lead

"From teaching my first classes to hosting star parties, working at SDSU really cemented my passion for communicating science."

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Noreen Grice ('87), Founder and Director at You Can Do Astronomy

"SDSU supported my foundational knowledge of astronomy. While on campus, I presented planetarium programs and served as president of the Astronomical Society."


2023 John D. Schopp Memorial Lecture

Dr. Rachel Bezanson will share how she’s using the newest NASA observatory – the James Webb Space Telescope – to learn about the earliest galaxies

STARS 2023 Applications Now Open

Local students in high school, community college or their first two years at San Diego State University who are interested in astronomy research and STEM careers should consider applying for the free four-week educational experience.

Recent Department Accomplishments

Several members of our Astronomy Department have recent accomplishments worthy of celebration. Graduate student Alex Dimoff will be moving to Germany to start a PhD […]