NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.- Westminster now has an astronomy minor. Two, very accomplished and well-respected physics professors head up the program designed allow students to expand their experience with our expanding universe.
WCN’s Connor Hamilton interviewed professor Dr. Robert Knop. He started teaching at Westminster in the Fall 2014. He teaches introductory algebra-based Physics, Modern Physics, Electricity & Magnetism, and Computational Physics. Knop helped discover the acceleration of the expansion of our universe and aided in winning a Nobel Prize. Along with the Nobel Prize, he was a co-recepient of the Gruber Prize in Cosmology. In his spare time Knop also joins the Westminster College Symphony Orchestra on the viola.
“Going to the telescope is great I haven’t done that a lot recently. Telescopes are becoming more and more robotic. When I used the Hubble Space Telescope I didn’t go they just sent me the data. “
His current research is on the relationship between galaxy interactions and activity in the galaxy. This includes start-formation and nuclear activity. He has built a cluster of machines to perform simulations of gravitational systems. In the podcast above you can hear a little bit about the machines he has created.
Physics professor is Dr. Thomas Oberst also teaches in the astronomy program. Oberst directs the WC Planetarium as well and on a clear night you may find him with a class up on the roof of Hoyt looking up at the sky through telescopes.
Westminster has a strong astronomy program for such a small college. The faculty has contributed to the discovery of over a dozen exoplanets. Westminster has a professional campus observatory, planetarium theater, GPU computer cluster, and sizable collection of teaching telescopes, binoculars, and cameras. Students conduct research in areas such as observational astronomy, exoplanets, galactic astronomy, cosmology, orbital dynamics and computational astrophysics. Students benefit from having small classes and close collaboration with the faculty that isn’t always available to undergraduates.