About Us

The James Madison University Department of Physics & Astronomy within the College of Science & Mathematics is an undergraduate-only department with twenty faculty members and over one hundred and twenty majors. James Madison University is a state funded comprehensive university that consistently ranks near the top of its classification in many nationally published rankings. Our vision is to strive to be a leading undergraduate physics and astronomy department by building a research-active, student-centered community.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers both major and minor programs in Physics and a minor in Astronomy for students interested in a challenging program in pure and applied sciences. Several tracks exist within the major including materials science, computational physics, electronics, and applied nuclear physics which allow students preparing for a wide range of post-graduate options to pursue the curriculum best suited to their needs. The department also offers a 3/2 program in Engineering in conjunction with the University of Virginia.


New! The JMU Department of Physics & Astronomy is hiring a tenure track faculty position in materials science to begin in the Fall of 2018. Review for applications begins December 1, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled. For more information about the position and how to apply please see the job ad.


Eclipse 2017!

On August 21, Prof. Sean Scully and Prof. Harold Butner travelled to Fort Loudon State Park in Tennessee just south of Knoxville to witness the total solar eclipse - a rare astronomical event! They met up with colleagues from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and Naval Research Labs (both located in the D.C. area) to take in the event. The weather cooperated as it was perfectly clear throughout the entire eclipse. The eclipse began at 1:04 pm EDT and lasted until 4:00 pm EDT with the total eclipse beginning at 2:34 pm EST and lasting approximately two and a half minutes in this location. Throughout the eclipse, pictures were obtained using JMU's Lunt solar telescope and CCD solar imager as well as an SLR with a mylar filter. A montage of the eclipse photos from the solar imager can be seen below:

Meanwhile back in Harrisonburg, the JMU Physics & Astronomy department set up Sunspotters, a 10" Celestron with a solar filter, and the Coronado solar telescope to view the partial eclipse at the JMU Astronomy Park. Approximately 300 people from JMU and the local community came out to view the eclipse that reached 85% coverage at 2:40 pm EDT. The event was staffed by department members Adriana Banu, Jacob Brown, Kim Emerson, Keigo Fukumura, Chris Hughes, Lynn Lucatorto, Gabriel Niculescu, and Scottie Pendleton along with JMU Students Gretchen Blincoe, Kendyl Combs, Zach Marinelli, Alex Sanner, and Raymond Trouve.


Giving to JMU Physics & Astronomy

The Department of Physics & Astronomy relies on donations from our friends to carry out several important functions within the department and to support our strong scholarship program for our students. There are several ways to put your dollars to work within the department which greatly benefit our students. Any donation, no matter how small or large, is greatly appreciated. For more information on how to support the Physics & Astronomy department click here.