Explore the principles of physics that govern the cosmos, from black holes to supernovae, with a minor in astrophysics. This celestial degree is part astronomy, part physics, and Randolph-Macon offers the only degree like it in the region. You’ll have access to the entire universe through RMC’s Keeble Observatory, where students conduct research and lead public observing sessions for the community. Learn about fascinating cosmic phenomena from expert faculty, who will guide your study of the universe as well as help you find your path in life. 

up close
In and Beyond the Classroom

An exterior view of Keeble Observatory


Randolph-Macon College students and the general public have been stargazing at the Keeble Observatory since 1963. In 2016, the observatory was upgraded and moved a few meters east of its original location. Today, this state-of-the-art $1M facility houses a Ritchey-Chretien telescope with an impressive 40 cm primary mirror, making it the largest telescope from Washington D.C. to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hands-on research

The universe is in your hands. As part of the observational astronomy course, you work directly with astronomical data, performing the same analysis as professional scientists. Students take charge from beginning to end, taking data from the Keeble Observatory directly, and performing data analysis using the computational tools of the field. 

advising and mentorship

Though most commonly paired with a major in physics, any student can pursue a minor in astrophysics and work with faculty to extend their passion for the cosmos. Just ask Huma Jafree and Bekah Polen ’22 who worked with Dr. Rachele Dominguez and Dr. Deonna Woolard, on a senior research project called “The Rotation Curve of the Milky Way Galaxy as Evidence for Dark Matter.” Together, they published a peer-reviewed paper on the topic. 

  • 100M
    years is the length of time the footprints from the Apollo moon landing will remain on the moon
  • 1872
    the year the Keeble Observatory first opened at RMC
  • 600
    the rate at which neutron stars spin in one second
Red light fills the interior of the Keeble Observatory while a student views through the telescope

in full
Courses You Won’t Want to Miss

(A very small sample)

phys 110

Physics of Light

This hands-on course focuses on laboratory investigations of light and travel to historical locations connected to the development of the theory of light. Learn about light and shadow, pigments and colors, mirrors and lenses, and wave particle duality. 

Astr 321

Observational Astronomy Lab

Using the Keeble Observatory, learn the techniques of optical astronomy, including the use of astronomical coordinate systems, photography, photometry, and spectroscopy. 

ASTR 235

Historical and Philosophical Foundations of AstronomY

Beginning with early creation myths and several non-western traditions, examine the interaction of astronomical concepts in a cultural context and explore the rise of “modern science” through the Copernican and Newtonian revolutions, and the 20th century developments of relativity and quantum mechanics.

Opportunities Worth Grabbing

Popular activities and programs among astrophysics minors

society of physics students

The premier club for students in Physics and related fields, liaising with the member societies of the American Institute of Physics

Sigma Pi Sigma

The Physics Honors Society

buzzworthy The Latest From RMC Astrophysics

News Story categories: Alumni Astrophysics Mathematics

Sky’s the Limit for This Yellow Jacket

Early December in Kiruna, Sweden is not the time or place to catch a tan. The average temperature is minus-11…

A headshot of Hayley Williamson. Her arms are crossed and she is standing in front of white board on which math equations are written in blue and purple ink.
News Story categories: Astrophysics Mathematics Physics

Three Professors Hold Last Class to Open Homecoming Weekend

A Homecoming tradition saw three recently retired professors return to campus to deliver their “last class” at Randolph-Macon College. Dr. Eve…

(Left to right): Society of Alumni President Robyn Diehl McDougle '98, Ph.D; Dr. Bruce Torrence, Dr. Eve Torrence, and Dr. George Spagna at homecoming weekend kickoff
News Story categories: Astrophysics

Topping-out Ceremony Celebrates New Keeble Observatory

Randolph-Macon College’s new Keeble Observatory is currently under construction. The Observatory, connected by a walkway from the second floor of…

Students looking out of the Keeble observatory telescope

Get Ready Discover Astrophysics at RMC.