Physics and astronomy both require extensive and up-to-date laboratory and equipment facilities. We have excellent facilities in a variety of fields.

  • The VMI Observatory includes a 20-inch reflecting telescope and astrographic refractor. The telescopes are used in both introductory astronomy courses, as well as an advanced course in observational techniques. We employ the latest electronic imaging (astronomical CCDs) for both quantitative measurements and astrophotography.
  • The laser laboratory includes a pulsed dye laser using a Nd:YAG laser as a pumping source.
  • The thin films lab is being outfitted to explore nonlinear optical materials, electro-optical devices, optical coatings, antireflection coatings, and other applications in this new field.
  • The laboratories for the general physics courses have been outfitted with computer control and data analysis for most of the experiments.

The VMI Physics and Astronomy Department owns a 20-inch computer controlled telescope and observatory. The telescope is used with both introductory astronomy courses (open to all cadets, no prerequisites) and upper level astronomy courses: Observational Techniques, the Independent Project courses, and Senior Thesis.

Astronomical Research: The telescope is used for both faculty research and involving physics majors in research. Learn more about Astronomical Research at VMI.

Astrophotography: One of our telescopes is designed for astrophotography. View some astrophotography results.



The general physics laboratories employ a range of experiments, many of which are computer controlled, with computer acquisition of data. Cadets analyze their data and turn in a printout or an electronic submission.

For physics majors, we teach basic analog and digital electronics appropriate for conducting physics experiments, and cadets obtain a wide range of experience with basic circuit elements, including circuit components, transistors and operational amplifiers, along with basic electronic instruments, e.g., oscilloscopes, function generators, and frequency counters.

Labs for Upper Level Physics Courses 

  • Accelerator
  • Modern Physics Laboratory
  • Computer Control of Physics Laboratory Experiments 
  • Sonoluminescence Lab