Physics and Astronomy

Warren Wilson College

Faculty: Donald F. Collins, PhD

Use of Hands-on activities:

All physics and related courses make extensive use of hands-on activities - laboratories which enhance the learning through concepts

 A student launches a ball while moving photographed with a video camera and analyzed with computer Students make superb astrophotos with the CCD camera and telescope.

Other hands-on activities:

Student web pages
Planetary photography
Color Photometry of stars Deep sky photography
Digital Camera astrophotography
Lunar photography
Student Astrophotography -
Freshman Seminar 2007

Optical and atmospheric effects
Video spectroscopy Physlets - computer simulations and animations
Lunar Eclipse - May 2003 Planetary motion

On-line modules

Funded by Teaching and Technology: Stage II
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Lunar Phase Interactive Applet
Planet Tracking and Retrograde Motion
Stellar Photometry - under construction
Asteroid Tracking at Sewanee, TN
under construction
Cluster Color Photometry - under construction
Geological Timescale and Astronomical Look-back times - under construction


Physics Courses:

General Courses:

Physics Minor

  A minor in Physics consists of 20 credit hours, which include Physics I and II, plus physics department courses at the 200 level and above which may include Thermodynamics: Physical Chemistry I, Quantum Chemistry, Special Topics, Independent Studies and/or Natural Science Seminar Research. In addition, the Natural Science Seminar requirement must be met. See Science (SCI) listing for further information.

Physics Photo of the Week

Each week when classes are in session, a new photograph of a particular physics phenomenon is displayed along with a brief explanantion.

ASTER Workshop - March 12, 13

Collaborative workshop sponsored by Appalachian College Association, led by Dr. Douglas T. Durig of University of the South, Sewanee, TN, and Dr. Donald F. Collins of Warren Wilson College.  This workshop shares with other astronomy faculty some innovative, "hands-on" projects in astronomy education using new technologies.

Research projects:

Cataclysmic Variables

1999 expedition to total solar eclipse  

 This is the "diamond ring" phenomenon photographed by Sky Stephens (class of 2001) in Bucharest Romania, August, 1999.


 Construction of Instrument to measure water turbidity

 An infrared laser diode shines through river water. The amount of light is detected by the a phototransistor. Increased turbidity in the sample relates to less light detected. Designed by Alex Cady, 1999.


 CCD Astronomy

 An ongoing project uses a small telescope and an electronic camera to measure eclipse times of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter to a high degree of precision. The plot on the left shows the relative brightness of Io (one of Jupiter's satellites) as it goes into Jupiter's shadow and becomes invisible in a matter of 3 sec.

  DSLR Astronomy - Epsilon Aurigae