Every culture on Earth pondered the night sky, making astronomy one of the oldest sciences. But astronomy is also cutting-edge, as new telescopes and spacecraft make exciting discoveries about planets around other stars, the formation of galaxies and the accelerating expansion of the universe.


If you take any astronomy class at Calvin, you’ll get to work with photographs from Calvin’s telescope and have an opportunity to discover an asteroid or a variable star.

Want to go more in depth? Calvin's astronomy minor is a 21-hour program designed to complement a variety of majors. To prepare for a career in astronomy or astrophysics, you should complete a minor in astronomy and a major in physics.

Other opportunities 

  • On the "Astronomy in the Southwest" January interim course, you will visit major telescopes throughout New Mexico and Arizona, visit major geological sites to study the history of our own planet and work with Calvin's own telescope in Rehoboth, New Mexico.
  • In a summer research project with a professor, you will gain hands-on experience studying an open-ended question on the frontiers of astronomy. Recent examples of projects: computer simulations of asteroid orbits, discovering new types of variable stars, and measuring the shapes of galaxies. Learn more » 

"One of my high school friends introduced me to Calvin and convinced me to visit the physics and astronomy department, and I was amazed by the wide range of opportunities for undergraduate astronomy students. Beginning in my first year at Calvin, I collaborated with physics and astronomy professor Larry Molnar on asteroid research, and that research continued and expanded throughout my Calvin career. I co-authored papers and gave presentations on our project, and in my senior year I traveled to Puerto Rico to present our work to an international audience at a planetary science conference. Calvin gave me the background and experience in physics that allowed me to apply to top graduate programs."

—Melissa Haegert Dykhuis ‘10

Careers in Astronomy

See job placement rates for Calvin grads.

Student involvement

Work in the Calvin Astronomical Observatory, operating the telescopes for visitors, class projects and research; write for the Science and Technology section in Chimes; attend seminars on cutting-edge research; enjoy department gatherings at professors' homes

Keep Exploring

Visit the department's website

Related News

Student develops sophisticated astronomy software

from News and Stories

By the numbers

Astronomical observatories managed by physics and astronomy students
300 and counting
Number of asteroids discovered at Calvin since 2003

Course Requirements 2013-14

Astronomy minor

(At least 21 semester hours)

  • One from:
    • PHYS-133 Introductory Physics: Mechanics and Gravity
    • One approved astronomy interim
  • PHYS-134 Matter, Space, and Energy
  • PHYS-246 Waves, Optics, and Optical Technology
  • ASTR-211 Planetary and Stellar Astronomy
  • ASTR-212 Galactic Astronomy and Cosmology
  • One from:
    • ASTR-384 Modern Observational Astronomy
    • ASTR-395 Astronomy Research, Writing, and Presentation

Request a catalog

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Calvin College Course CatalogCurrent students please download your course catalog for complete degree requirements.


Dollar amounts reflect awards given for the 2014-15 academic year.

Roger D. Griffioen Physics and Astronomy Scholarship
  • award amount: $1,650
  • first-year
  • GPA 2.5+
  • financial need not required
  • prospective students apply through the physics department; automatic consideration for returning students
Steensma Family Physics and Astronomy Scholarship
  • award amount: $2,500
  • sophomore, junior or senior
  • financial need considered
  • apply through the physics department
Van Baak Scholarship in Experimental Physics
  • award amount: $2,200
  • junior or senior
  • GPA of 3.0+
  • financial need considered; demonstrate promise in experimental work in physics or astronomy
  • apply through the Calvin Portal
View all scholarship opportunities


Stanley Haan

Stanley Haan
Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics
SC 325 | SB 180
(616) 526-6442

Loren Haarsma

Loren Haarsma
Associate Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 260
(616) 526-8517

Paul Harper

Paul Harper
Associate Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 161
(616) 526-6408

Larry Molnar

Larry Molnar
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 173
(616) 526-6341

Steven Steenwyk

Steven Steenwyk
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 175
(616) 526-8542

David Van Baak

David Van Baak
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SB 150
(616) 526-6275

Andrew Vanden Heuvel

Andrew Vanden Heuvel
Teaching Staff
Department of Physics and Astronomy
(616) 526-7436

Matthew Walhout

Matthew Walhout
Professor, Dean for Research and Scholarship
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SC 327
(616) 526-6566

Talk to us

Matthew Walhout Matthew Walhout
Department Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy
SC 327
(616) 526-6566


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