The Department of Astronomy is an independent, active, and vibrant department that offers undergraduate and graduate instruction, unique among New England public institutions. Astronomy at the University began in the 1960s within the Department of Physics and Astronomy. After more than 30 years of steady growth and progress, Astronomy became an independent department in 2000. It collaborates with Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Hampshire College to form the Five College Astronomy Department.
The Department is active in a broad range of observational and theoretical astrophysics. A variety of facilities are available to students, faculty and staff, including several small telescopes for instructional purposes and two major research facilities. For research, the Department operates a high performance computer facility and is the US partner in an international project with Mexico to build the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT). The computing facility is presently being expanded to contain over 1500 processing cores, 3000 Gigabytes of RAM, a 10 Gigabit per second interconnect rate and over 100 Terabytes of data storage. The LMT is a 50-m diameter telescope that will operate at millimeter wavelengths and is located atop Sierra Negra, a 15,000 foot peak located in central Mexico. The LMT will be the world's largest single-dish millimeter wavelength telescope.