The Astronomy Department is a 25% partner in the MDM Observatory, which comprises the 1.3-meter McGraw-Hill telescope and the 2.4-meter Hiltner telescope. Graduate students doing observational research receive a large fraction of Columbia's 150 nights per year of observing time on the two telescopes. In addition, the Observatory provides the opportunity for designing, building, testing, and using innovative optical and near-IR instrumentation developed in our laboratories. In addition, the department maintains telescopes in two domes atop Pupin Hall, used primarily for teaching and public outreach.

We are members of the Subaru Prime Focus Spectograph.

We are members of the VERITAS collaboration.

We have joined the LSST Corporation, whose mission is to support the community (scientific and beyond) in engaging with data from the Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey for Space and Time (LSST).

Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory (CAL)

The Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, a joint endeavor involving the Astronomy and Physics Departments, has extensive experience in the design and construction of new astronomical instruments for rocket, satellite and balloon missions, as well as ground based telescopes.

The Schiminovich Group Lab has hosted several research projects. Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) is a NASA Small Explorer that observes galaxies in ultraviolet light, The Faint Intergalactic Redshifted Emission Balloon (FIREBall) is a balloon experiment devised to probe redshifted Lyman alpha and metal-line emission from the intergalactic and circumgalactic medium (CGM), designed and built in collaboration with Caltech and LAM (Laboratoire Astrophysique de Marseilles). Circumgalactic H-alpha Spectrograph (CHaS) is still in development.

The Aprile Group has been working on the XENON Dark Matter Experiment which used liquid xenon (LXe) to detect and image radiation from a variety of physics phenomena in astrophysics and particle physics.

Facilities at our Nevis Labs include laboratories and equipment for testing and assembling experiments, an electronics shop, and an instrument machine shop. In addition, there is a fully equipped machine shop available for student use in the Pupin Building and additional laboratories for instrument development.

The Hailey group led the team that built the NASA Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) telescope and continues to be very involved in the project, investigating emissions from the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way as well as the sources of other X-ray and gamma emissions. They also lead the General Antiparticle Spectrometer (GAPS) experiments, developing new means of X-ray detection for detecting and determining the composition of dark matter in balloon-suspended apparatus.

The Savin group uses molecular beams in a laboratory to study astrochemistry and conducts studies of solar physics.

We are collaborators for the Laser Interferometer Gravity-wave Observatory (LIGO).


The Astrophysics Laboratory and Astronomy Department maintain a large network of workstations and each student is assigned a private computer on arrival. Additionally, the Department has a share of two large compute clusters, and individual faculty have extensive allocations on national supercomputers.