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.
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.
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.
100Myears is the length of time the footprints from the Apollo moon landing will remain on the moon
1872the year the Keeble Observatory first opened at RMC
600the rate at which neutron stars spin in one second
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.
Observational Astronomy Lab
Using the Keeble Observatory, learn the techniques of optical astronomy, including the use of astronomical coordinate systems, photography, photometry, and spectroscopy.
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.
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
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