In the international community, Yonsei Astronomy has been well-known for its international collaborations in various fields of Astronomy and Space Science. One of the oldest and the most prestigious institutions in South Korea, Yonsei University is also where the first lectures were given on astronomy in the country - first by Dr. W. C. Rufus in 1915, and afterwards by Dr. A. L. Becker. Lectures began to be delivered by Korean faculty from 1922 when Dr. Chun-ho Lee assumed the professorship. Among other early faculty members were Prof. Won-chul Lee, and Prof. Ki-won Chang. Dr. Won-chul Lee, a renowned astronomer and a Yonsei graduate, obtained a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1926; he was the first Korean ever to earn a doctoral degree in science. A 15cm refracting telescope was installed in the campus and used for education as early as 1928. With a 40cm telescope, an extensive program of photo-electric photometry for eclipsing binaries began in 1976. Then in 1980, Yonsei opened a new off-campus observatory in Ilsan with a 61cm telescope.
Since the official founding of the Department of Astronomy and Meteorology in 1968 (later divided into two separate departments), both education and research in Astronomy have made significant advances at Yonsei. Graduate programs were initiated in 1972, and with the steady growth of curricula, the Department now offers a wide range of training in preparation for the careers in the fields of astronomy and space technology. The current research interests of the Department cover topics within both astronomy and space technology: stellar evolution, stellar fluid dynamics, star clusters, galaxies, evolution of stellar population, observational cosmology, observational instruments, space optics, astrodynamics, space mission design and analysis, satellite orbit, satellite attitude, space vehicle dynamics and control, and trajectory optimization.
The strength of the Yonsei Astronomy program has its foundation in the close ties with the four additional research organizations, namely, Yonsei University Observatory, The Center for Galaxy Evolution Research, the Korean VLBI Network, and Astrodynamics and Control Laboratory. The University Observatory established a few remote sites worldwide, which are equipped with wide-field fully automatic 0.5m telescopes (YSTAR). From 1996 to 2013, The Center for Galaxy Evolution Research participated in the development and operation of NASA-JPL’s ultraviolet space-telescope GALEX. Combined with other research efforts at the Department, the center has achieved numerous fruitful results that led to publications in Science and Nature as well as other major astronomy journals. A 20m-diameter radio telescope was constructed on Yonsei’s Seoul campus in 2008, which is a part of the first Korean Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (KVN; its main operator is KASI). The Astrodynamics and Control Laboratory is actively involved in the various research activities on satellite formation flying, spacecraft dynamics and control, and astrodynamics. The laboratory has been financially supported by the Korea Ministry of Science and Technology as one of National Research Laboratories for 5 years (2006-2011). The Astronomy Department was ranked among the university’s top ten departments between 2005 and 2012, and was generously funded by the Yonsei Vision Global 5-5-10 Project during the same period. With Korean government’s intensive financial support - Brain Korea 21 (2006-2012) and Brain Korea 21 Plus (2013-2019) programs - the Department of Astronomy at Yonsei University is now rapidly improving its research environment and increasing scientific output in astronomy as well as space science and engineering.