Astronomy FSP in South Africa

The Astronomy Foreign Studies Program in South Africa provides Dartmouth students with a unique opportunity to observe the southern hemisphere night sky at the national observatory of South Africa. The view of the night sky from the observatory is spectacular -- one easily sees more than four times as many stars as from Hanover. A brief overview of the 2023 astronomy FSP is provided by faculty director Professor Brian Chaboyer in this video. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (nearby galaxies) are larger than the full moon and easily visible to the unaided eye.

Through first hand observations and intensive studies, students will learn about stars in the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds. During the first five weeks of the program students will be based in Cape Town, learning about research methods, astrophysics and observational astronomy through classroom instruction and practical projects. This will include learning how to operate telescopes, and running public observing sessions.

Approximately one week of the program will be spent at the national observatory in Sutherland (four hours north of Cape Town), a remote location which is home to over 20 professional telescopes, including the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere, SALT. After collecting data for a week, students will return to Cape Town, where they will analyze their data and present the results of their independent research. During this time, students will assist staff at the national observatory in their public outreach efforts by visiting local schools, introducing young learners to the wonders of the night sky and the science of astronomy.

Dartmouth faculty will teach the regular courses and supervise the independent projects, assisted by a graduate student TAs.


Astronomy 61: Observational Techniques in Astronomy

Physics 31.02: Research Methods in Astronomy and Physics

Astronomy 81: Special Topics in Astronomy

Living Accommodations

In Cape Town, students will be housed in off-campus apartments, near the University of Cape Town and the headquarters of the South African Astronomical Observatory. Apartments are equipped with kitchens, and students will be responsible for their own meals. While at the observatory, students will be living on site in dorm rooms and meals will be provided.


An introductory physics course (Physics 3, 13 or 15), and an introductory astronomy course (Astronomy 2, 3 or 15).