University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Apogee Map

The First Global Age Map of the Milky Way Galaxy

January 8, 2016

Astronomers have measured the age of 70,000 stars across the Milky Way using the University of Virginia led APOGEE instrument and put the results into a galactic map.

Read the BBC article


Dark Skies, Bright Kids receives Packard Foundation Award

December 13, 2015

We are excited to announce that Dark Skies Bright Kids has been given a generous grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for the next three years to run week long summer astronomy programs designed at reaching more rural communities in southern Virginia. We are very grateful for their support and look forward to the opportunity to bring astronomy education and outreach to more communities across Virginia! 

This program will allow us to take full advantage of the wonderfully dark skies southern Virginia has to offer. In fact they are some of the darkest skies on the east coast! Watch this space for more updates about specific details for this summer's programs.

Apogee Map

Seeing Stars: UVA Leads the Development of APOGEE-2

December 10, 2015

UVA astronomers are designing and building a $6 million instrument, APOGEE-2, that will allow astronomer to measure the motions and chemical compositions of hundreds of thousands of stars at distances up to 25,000 light years.

Read the full article at UVA Today

Charlottesville Ed Murphy McCormick Observatory

Human Computer

December 5, 2015

Wonderful UVA Virginia Magazine video and article about our friend, Caroyl Beddow Gooch, recalling her work her in the 1940s. Thanks to Molly Minturn for capturing Caroyl's delightful character in this piece.

Everyday Einstein

‘Everyday Einstein’ Sabrina Stierwalt Brings Everyday Science to Everybody

December 4, 2015

Did you know that a UVA Astronomer is your Everyday Einstein? Learn more about Sabrina and her podcast in this article from UVA Today.

UVA Astronomy Team Leaders

UVA Scientists See Pluto Up Close

November 18, 2015

Two UVA planetary scientists, Dr. Anne Verbiscer (Astronomy) and Dr. Alan Howard (Environmental Sciences), are members of the science team for the New Horizons mission to Pluto. In this UVAToday article, they discuss early results from the mission, including some of the spectacular images returned so far.


UVA Astronomers Study Huge Lava Lake on Jupiter's moon Io

November 17, 2015

UVA astronomer Michael Skrutskie and colleagues have taken advantage of a chance alignment of Jupiter's moons to study Io's Loki Patera volcano and its huge lava lake with 40 times better resolution than any past Earth-based observations.

Read more at EOS Earth and Space Science News

Charlottesville Ed Murphy McCormick Observatory

Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE)

June 11, 2015
Saturn Dust Ring

The true extent of Saturn's outermost ring

June 10, 2015

Professors Anne Verbiscer and Michael Skrutskie are co-authors on the recent Nature paper announcing the discovery of the true extent of Saturn's outermost ring. Prof. Verbiscer and Prof. Skrutskie discovered this ring, the so-called Pheobe ring, in 2009 using the Spitzer Space Telescope. In the Nature article published earlier this month, they used data from the NASA Wide-field Infrared Space Explorer to find that the Pheobe ring extends out to a remarkable distance of 270 Saturn-radii from Saturn, making it the largest known planetary ring in the Solar System.


UVA Astronomers Contribute to Landmark Observations of Jupiter's Moon Io

May 29, 2015

University of Virginia astronomer Dr. Mike Skrutskie and former UVA Ph.D. student Dr. Jarron Leisenring used the Large Binocular Telescope to make landmark observations of a giant lava lake on Jupiter's moon Io. Details on the observations and what they found are in this UVAToday article.

Homer Statue Old Cabell Hall

Sandra Liss was the Departmental Award Winner in this year's Graduate Teaching Awards Competition

May 15, 2015

Graduate Student Sandra Liss was the Departmental Award Winner in this year's Graduate Teaching Awards Competition for her dedication to teaching in the Department of Astronomy. This award, from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, in collaboration with the University's Teaching Resource Center, recognizes the university's best graduate student teachers and carries an honorarium. 


This cosmic 'dinosaur egg' is about to hatch

May 14, 2015

Professor Kelsey Johnson's research on the ALMA detection of birthplaces of soon-to-be globular clusters was featured in a press release article in the Washington Post. Check out the article, "This cosmic 'dinosaur egg' is about to hatch" on the Washington Post website. 

Homer Statue Old Cabell Hall

Department Awards

May 8, 2015

Undergraduate Tracy Esman is the recipient of the department's Limber Award, which recognizes the most outstanding Astrophysics graduate each year in terms of research and academics. She did her thesis with Anne Verbiscer on the Martian atmosphere, and will be attending the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab for graduate school. 

Undergraduate Avery Bailey is the recipient of the department's Vyssotsky Prize, which recognizes an outstanding third year Astrophysics major. It comes with $1000 for research-related travel. Avery has been working with Craig Sarazin on analyzing XMM-Newton X-ray data on the merging cluster Abell 2061.