Foothill College | Astronomy – Foothill College

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Foothill College | Astronomy – Foothill College


About the Program

Discover the Universe at Foothill College

The Astronomy Department at Foothill College offers lecture and laboratory classes with astronomy professor Dr. Geoff Mathews.  Courses in solar system and stellar astronomy provide you with a non-technical introduction to the worlds with which we share our solar system, the life and death of stars, the formation of galaxies, and the evolution of the universe.

In Fall 2020, Dr. Mathews is teaching synchronous online courses:

  • two sections of Astronomy 10B, which focuses on stars, galaxies, and the overall structure of the universe.  The course is themed around the ways that astronomical events affect life on Earth.   One section is on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and the other on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  
  • two sections of the Astronomy 10L lab, one on Wednesday afternoon and the other on Thursday afternoon.

Dr. Mathews leads the Foothill AstroSims project, which aims to sustain the existing pool of astro-education simulations as well as developing new simulations covering previously unaddressed topics. Our long-time faculty member Andrew Fraknoi retired in June 2017.

Degree & Program Types

We do not offer a degree or certificate program in Astronomy. However, the astronomy courses meet general education requirements for other degrees offered.

The Foothill College Observatory

Observatory from the Library Quad area

Located on the main campus near the Krause Center for Innovation, the observatory provides students and community members with the opportunity for first-hand exploration of the wonders of the universe.  The observatory is open on Friday nights from 9 to 11 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.  Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, the observatory will be closed until further notice.

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series

Founded in 1999, the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series lectures are presented on six Wednesday evenings during each school year at Foothill College.  Speakers over the years have included Nobel-prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences and many other well-known scientists explaining astronomical developments in everyday language.

The series, moderated by Foothill College Astronomy instructor emeritus Andrew Fraknoi, is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the SETI Institute, the University of California Observatories, and Foothill College. Topics range from the exploration of the planets to the speeding up of the expanding universe; from planets around other stars to black holes at the centers of distant galaxies.

Lectures are free to the general public, and video versions of the lectures (starting February 2013) are available on the lecture series YouTube Channel.  Free audio files (podcasts) of the lectures from 2005 through 2017 are available through some podcast streaming services.

The Peninsula Astronomical Society

The Peninsula Astronomical Society holds its meetings on the campus of Foothill College at 7:30 p.m. on the second Friday of each month in room 5015 next to Parking Lot 5. There is a $3 charge for parking — visitor parking permits are available from the machines in the parking lots (see map). Meetings feature lectures by prominent members of the professional and amateur communities, and are open to the public.

Astronomy on the Web

For further explorations of the universe, check out these selected astronomy sites on the Web.



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Foothill College | Astronomy – Foothill College


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