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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Physics Laboratories

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is located in the Trafton Science Center, which houses several well-equipped instructional and research laboratories for physics. The general physics laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that interface with computers, and students in introductory courses often use computers for data acquisition and analysis. The upper-level physics laboratories are equipped with apparatus for experiments in atomic physics, nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, and optics. Research equipment acquisitions include a computerized X-ray diffraction system, an optical microscope with digital camera, a Raman spectrometer, a high-resolution optical spectrometer, an Auger spectrometer, a scanning electron microscope, and a 450 keV Van de Graaff facility. Well-equipped machine and electronics shops are staffed by full-time, highly trained personnel.

Astronomical Observatories

The department operates two observatories on the southern edge of the MSU campus:Standeford Observatory contains a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, used for visual observations by general education students and other observatory visitors. Several other 10- to 13-inch telescopes are also available for instructional use by students in Astronomy 125.Andreas Observatory, located 150 yards east of Standeford Observatory, houses a 20-inch computer-controlled Cassegrain telescope. This instrument, which is equipped with CCD cameras for photometry and spectroscopy, is used primarily for advanced instruction and faculty research.

Student Resources

The Academic Computing Center, with over 550 workstations, is in Wissink Hall, adjacent to Trafton Science Center. Students also have wireless access to the Internet everywhere on campus. The student dormitories are provided with high-speed Ethernet connections.

Students majoring and minoring in physics or astronomy have access to the Physics Resource Room (TR C115) in Trafton Science Center. The room provides a space for physics and astronomy students to study together, to discuss physics problems, and to have activities interest to the students. The room has computers and printers for students to use, information about graduate studies, a collection of physics and astronomy books and periodicals.

Weather Station

The department hosts a Weather Station, providing current local weather conditions and other related data.