Education and Outreach

Professor Tammy Smecker-Hane leads the Astronomy & Astrophysics Outreach Program, formerly sponsored by a National Science Foundation FOCUS grant. A powerpoint presentation that describes our outreach program can be found here: ppt version, pdf version. It had four important components which continue on today:

  • Tours of the UCI Observatory and Classroom Visits are available for Elementary, Middle and High School Students. We offer to bring astronomy and physics lessons as well as telescopes to the classroom. Tours of the observatory also are offered for small groups of interested people such as scout troups, community groups, etc. Full details can be found here.
  • Visitor Nights at the UCI Observatory for the general public.
  • Our Teacher’s Workshops in Astronomy & Astrophysics were part of a two week long Earth Science Workshop for K-12 math and science teachers run by the Center for Educational Partnerships. The fourth annual workshop was held in August 4-5, 2008.
  • Astronomy Activites – We have developed a number of activities that we use in our Astronomy Outreach Program, which we make available online for others to use.

Astronomy Information

Our Astronomy Information page contains useful information for students, parents, teachers and the general public. Find some tips about observing the night sky, discover where to find astronomy teaching materials on the web, or where to download a podcast of a public lecture on a hot topic in astronomy.

COSMOS Astronomy & Astrophysics Cluster

COSMOS is a month-long summer school program for highly-talented high school students held annually at four different UC campuses: UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UC San Diego. Here at UCI, we offer the COSMOS Astronomy & Astrophysics cluster in which students take courses in physics and astronomy, do computer lab exercises in astrophysics, and get to take their own data with UCI Observatory telescopes in order to do their own research project. Applications are usually due in late February. Details about the program and the application process can be found at the UCI COSMOS site.

Astronomy Club at UCI

UCI undergraduate students are invited to join the Astronomy Club, which meets at the Observatory approximately every two weeks to explore the night sky with telescopes.

Intro to Astronomy Online Course

UCI offers a fully online introductory astronomy course, Physics 20A - Introduction to Astronomy, which is a 4 credit course that satisfies UC General Education requirements in both category II (science and technology) and Va (quantitative, symbolic and computational reasoning). This course covers basic astronomy, the physics of gravity and light, the Earth and our Solar System, the Sun, stars and their evolution. The course is taught by Professor Tammy Smecker-Hane as a on-line course in Winter quarter (10 week session) and in Summer Session I (5 week session in July/Aug). It is available for anyone to take, including non-UCI students, through UCI's Summer Session and Extension. It is intended for a general audience including non-scientists and would be appropriate for high school students with a knowledge of basic algebra. For more information, see or for more details.