News & Events

Utqiagvik shoreline, Feb. 2022
Arctic Geophysics Research Experience group on the Utqiagvik shoreline, Feb. 2022, looking toward Earth's North Pole

The 2023-2024 Arctic Geophysics Research Experience is ongoing! This is a unique opportunity for those interested in studying factors that affect our planet’s climate, as well as for those who are interested in the challenge of a research experience that’s truly at the edge of this world! We are looking for students who have imagination and creativity – first-time researchers are especially encouraged to apply. No prior experience is necessary! 

Students accepted into this program conceive of and plan their own arctic research project throughout the fall. Each student (or small group of students) are closely mentored as they design and build their project. Most of these are based on microcontrollers, and will collect data from the numerous environmental and other sensors that may be attached to these. These acquire scientifically valid, publishable data. 

The spring PHYS 325 class meets for 6 weeks at the start of the semester to finish the projects and prepare them for deployment in the field. Students then spend one of 2 weeks in Utqiagvik (ne’ Barrow), Alaska deploying their projects on the polar sea ice. Half of the class will be in Utqiagvik the week before spring break, and half will be there during spring break.

For more information about this unique experience, please contact the program coordinator Dr. R. Herman,

RU Planetarium Oct. 14 2023 Eclipse Event
Radfor University Planetarium Oct. 14 2023 Eclipse Event

On Saturday, October 14, 2023 the Radford University Planetarium and our partners in the Artis College of Science and Technology hosted an eclipse-themed Community Event. This event centered around the (partial) annular eclipse occurring on that day. The large-scale event featured multiple eclipse-themed planetarium shows and science activities for everyone including the neighboring Museum of the Earth Sciences, Chemistry activities, Biology activies, and many others. 

Due to our location with respect to the path of totality,we will saw our moon pass partly in front of our sun between 11:53am and 2:41pm, with the maximum coverage occurring at 1:16pm. The day started off fully overcast, but the clouds opened up around the time of the eclipse. While it was partly cloudy, that still meant that, for much of the ~3 hours of the eclipse, people were able to see our moon "take a bite out" of our sun. 

We gave away hundreds of eclipse glasses that we had obtained, and we had a number of telescopes with solar filters following the sun. People were amazed at this spectacular celestial phenomenon. 

Radford University Planetarium
Radford University Planetarium

The Radford University Planetarium will continue its show offerings throughout the spring semester. This is an amazing resource for the University and the surrounding community and is a hub of science education for the campus and the broader New River Valley.

The Planetairum has been an integral part of the Physics Department for decades, esepcially since the "revisioning" of the original classes-only Curie Hall Planetarium starting in the late 1990s. After the last show of 2023, with a group of 25 gifted/talented students from Scott Memorial Middle School in Wytheville, some pretty amazing numbers for the Planetarium stand out.

The first number is 5,427. That’s the total number of people at the planetarium shows in the calendar year 2023. Another number is 219, which is the number of separate shows during the calendar year 2023 that it took to reach this number. In the 8 years of this current planetarium (which opened in January of 2016 with the new Center for the Sciences building), this is the second-highest number of people through the place in a year. This is second only to the massive 2017 Eclipse Celebration-driven 7,320 (and 286 shows) numbers from calendar year 2017.

Yet another number is 70,200. That is the grand total number of people who have seen a show at the Radford University Planetarium since the first semi-public, test-out show in September of 1999. That represents 3,028 separate shows altogether, with 1,705 shows in the old, Curie Hall-based facility, and 1,323 in the new facility.

Note that the vast majority of shows are run by the amazing Physics Department workstudy students. This is a special group of students whose passion for all things astronomy and science education is unmatched. Not only do they get to share their knowledge in the coolest place on campus (in our opinion!), but they also get paid to do so! If you are interested in being a workstudy student and learn how to run this amazing facility, please ask the Physics Department.