We have a wide variety of facilities available for students majoring in astronomy, physics and astrophysics. Our philosophy in the Astronomy and Physics Department supports hands-on learning. We believe that the best way of learning physics is to do physics. We have laboratories set aside for a majority of our courses at all levels.
The College's Detwiler Planetarium is used in our astronomy classes, and astronomy majors can be trained to operate it to give shows to outside groups. Currently, the planetarium has a 30 foot dome with optical-mechanical star projector. Plans are in the works for a totally new planetarium which will be a optical-mechanics/digital hybrid projector. Some of our astronomy majors go on to operate planetariums in a variety of settings after graduation. Additionally, the department has several portable optical telescopes that students frequently set up on campus and may also take off campus for better observing conditions. Along with our astronomy program, we also have a geology laboratory with rock, mineral, and fossil samples collected from all over the country.
Our introductory physics laboratory is primarily used for our introductory physics courses. Among other equipment, we have PASCO Xplorer units for computer-based data collection and analysis. Our introductory lab also serves as the central gathering place for our physics department. You can often see faculty and students working together on projects or just hanging out in the lab. The room is also used by our advanced students to work on research projects and as an office for our laboratory instructor.
We have several labs for our advanced lab based-courses. Our electromagnetism/mechanics lab is used by our advanced students to pursue laboratory experiments in advanced electromagnetism and advanced classical mechanics.
Our advanced physics laboratory has several student-use computers. Plans are in the works to upgrade the computational facilities here. The lab will serve, in part, as a computational physics laboratory. This lab also has reserved office space for our student undergraduate TA's. Exceptional undergraduate students are selected to assist in the teaching of introductory laboratories. Those students can use the office space in this lab. We also have equipment to make small scale superconductors in this lab.
We also have faculty research labs. Dr. Fisher's Space Laboratory contains models and information used in his research on the history of space flight. In the very near future, the room currently labeled "Research Lab 3" will become Dr. Kulp's Nonlinear Dynamics Laboratory. This space will be used by Dr. Kulp and his research students to investigate problems in nonlinear dynamics.
We also have several smaller laboratories for modern physics, condensed matter, nuclear and particle physics, and optics. All of our laboratories are student-centered. As part of our teaching philosophy in the Department of Astronomy and Physics, we encourage our students to use these facilities for class work and their own research interests.