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Thomas Moses

Chair & Professor of Physics

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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How we work

  1. We explore the big, fundamental questions. What is the universe made of? How did the universe begin, and how does it evolve? Although it's among the most ancient of disciplines, astronomy is now one of the hottest fields in science, with some of the most important unsolved problems—like investigating the nature of dark matter and the accelerating expansion of the universe.
  2. We're training the next astronomers and astrophysicists. A minor in astronomy, together with a major in the physical sciences or mathematics, is strong preparation for students interested in a career path in astronomy or astrophysics. In fact, the coursework is very similar to a university's astronomy major. The difference? Knox students also learn to write well, think critically, and speak confidently—skills every researcher should have.
  3. We do research. We have a Ph.D. astronomer in the department (who is also a Knox grad) who takes students into the field to conduct research and collect data. On campus, students compile and analyze astronomical data collected in the field and from our own equipment.
  4. Our interests go beyond the science of the universe. The night sky is a wonder that inspires artists, writers, and philosophers. Recent creative writing students noted they did their best work the term they took an astronomy course because they were so inspired by the topics discussed in class. A minor in astronomy is a good fit for future research astronomers as well as anyone interested in learning about humankind's quest for an understanding of nature at its most fundamental level.

Where We Learn

Hands-on experience with research-grade equipment is key to learning astronomy. Knox has a state of the art teaching observatory featuring a 16' Ash dome housing a 17" PlaneWave telescope and Software Bisque mount as well as multiple smaller portable telescopes. Instruments include multiple CCD and CMOS cameras and a spectroscopic imaging system.

What We Learn

Courses include introductory classes in astronomy and exobiology and an upper-level laboratory-based course in observational astronomy. In upper-level courses in astrophysics and cosmology, topics include:

  • the dynamics of star systems
  • stellar atmospheres
  • stellar evolution
  • supernovae and black holes
  • the Milky Way Galaxy
  • galaxy morphology
  • formation and evolution of galaxies
  • galaxy dynamics
  • active galactic nuclei
  • dark matter
  • big bang cosmology

Some background in general physics and mathematics is needed to complete the upper-level courses.

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Printed on Wednesday, April 24, 2024