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Overview of the Department of Astronomical Science

In April 2006, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Physical Sciences, Department of Astronomical Science launched a five-year doctoral program for graduate students at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.


1. Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Physical Sciences, Department of Astronomical Science

The SOKENDAI, School of Physical Sciences, Department of Astronomical Science is a graduate school based at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences.

The Subaru Telescope
The Subaru Telescope and other telescopes
near the summit of Maunakea in Hawai`i.

The graduate school offers two programs: a five-year doctoral program for graduate students and a three-year doctoral program for graduates with a Master's degree.



2. Program objectives

The goals of the Department of Astronomical Science are to train researchers capable of doing cutting-edge research, train specialists capable of developing advanced technologies, and develop human resources with the highly-specialized knowledge needed to work in this scientific field. To this end, graduate students conduct observational, theoretical, and instrument development research relevant to astronomy and related sciences in an environment equipped with state-of-the-art observational instruments and supercomputers.


3. Department of Astronomical Science admissions policy for prospective students

Basic course policy

The goals are to “train researchers capable of doing cutting-edge research”, “train specialists capable of developing advanced technologies”, and “develop human resources with the highly-specialized knowledge needed to work in this scientific field.”

Who should apply

The Department of Astronomical Science seeks students with a strong interest in astronomy and the Universe, as well as a passion for unraveling scientific questions through theoretical, observational, and instrument development research; and students who have not only basic academic skills, but who also have the needed theoretical and creative aptitude for advanced research.

The selection process

Three-year doctoral program
  • We select applicants based on the basic course policy.
  • Selected applicants should have strong issue awareness and motivation and be judged to meet the standards for completing the doctoral program within the established length of the program.
  • Basic knowledge and understanding of astronomy and the physical sciences; the ability to explain one's own research; motivation to do research; potential; English ability; and other factors will be comprehensively taken into account.
  • Applicants who do not have a background in astronomy will be selected if they are determined to have the potential to contribute to research in fields related to astronomical science.
Five-year doctoral program
  • We select applicants based on the basic course policy.
  • Basic knowledge and understanding of astronomy and mathematics; English ability; logic and creativity; motivation to do research; and potential will be comprehensively taken into account.

4. Course descriptions

Students interested in a particular course are encouraged to consult with a potential research advisor after examining his/her research interests. Students unable to find a suitable research advisor should contact the academic guidance instructor specified below each course description. (When sending emails, replace the [at] with the single-byte @.)
Courses in the Department of Astronomical Science encompass the following three areas: optical and infrared astronomy; radio astronomy; and general astronomy and astrophysics.

Optical and infrared astronomy

This field researches heavenly bodies through visible and near-infrared light which can be observed by ground-based telescopes. The research encompasses a wide range of celestial objects, including galaxies, stars, interstellar material, extra-solar planets, and Solar System bodies. Observational and theoretical research is conducted using NAOJ's 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope near the summit of Maunakea, Hawai`i.

Academic guidance instructors for optical and infrared astronomy courses: Wako Aoki (aoki.wako[at]nao.ac.jp), Nobunari Kashikawa (n.kashikawa[at]nao.ac.jp)

Radio astronomy

This field of astronomy conducts observations primarily in the radio wave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Using the Nobeyama 45-meter Radio Telescope, Nobeyama Radioheliograph, very long baseline interferometers and other observational instruments, courses focus mainly on observational research and instrument development research. Observational targets include a wide range of celestial objects such as galaxies, stars, interstellar matter, extra-solar planets, and the Solar System. Now observations have started using ALMA, a radio astronomy facility in Chile's Atacama Desert constructed through collaboration between Japan, Taiwan, Europe, and North America.

Academic guidance instructors for radio astronomy courses: Kenichi Tatematsu (k.tatematsu[at]nao.ac.jp), Hideo Hanada (hideo.hanada[at]nao.ac.jp)

General astronomy and astrophysics

This field includes many subdisciplines of astronomical and astrophysical research: theoretical astronomy, solar physics, gravitational wave astronomy, and database astronomy. Using instruments such as supercomputers, the Hinode solar observation satellite, solar telescopes, and the Large-scale Cryogenic Gravitational Wave Telescope KAGRA, courses pursue research on cosmology, galaxies, interstellar material, extra-solar planets, and the Solar System.

Academic guidance instructors for General Astronomy and Astrophysics courses: Koji Tomisaka (tomisaka[at]th.nao.ac.jp), Takashi Sekii (sekii[at]solar.mtk.nao.ac.jp)


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