News @ Minnesota State University Moorhead

Watch the Great American Eclipse Safely Aug. 21

Posted on August 11, 2017

Free viewing begins at 11:30 a.m. on MSUM campus 

The Great American Eclipse marks the first day of classes at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) Monday, Aug. 21. Most Americans with clear skies will be able to observe a total or partial solar eclipse. Fargo-Moorhead will experience a partial solar eclipse with just over 80 percent of the sun being blocked from view.

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow that hits the Earth’s surface. Since it is never safe to look directly at the sun, MSUM’s Department of Physics and Astronomy is holding a viewing on campus.  Read the rest of this entry →

Planetarium, Physics & Astronomy awarded Eclipse Outreach Grant

Posted on February 22, 2017

Sara Schultz, Planetarium Director, and Juan Cabanela, Physics/Astronomy Faculty, have been awarded an American Astronomical Society (AAS) grant to support 2017 Great North American Eclipse outreach. The grant will include partnerships with YES School, FM Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, CHARISM, and the public libraries of Fargo and West Fargo. It will support the purchase of solar scopes and eclipse model kits for each participating organization as well as a planetarium show on the physics behind and safe viewing techniques of a Solar Eclipse.

The Great American Solar Eclipse will happen on August 21, 2017. The entire U.S. will be able to see some degree of solar eclipse (where the Moon blocks out some or all of the Sun) while a narrow band stretching from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a TOTAL eclipse. For more information go here:​.

Cabanela Interviewed by KVLY on Fireball Sighting

Posted on November 08, 2016

Juan Cabanela, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, was interviewed by Ashley Bishop of KVLY News for their main story on a fireball that was spotted over Western Minnesota by hundreds of their viewers Sunday Night. He clarified that a fireball like this is just a larger than normal meteor striking the atmosphere.  Read the rest of this entry →

A Stellar Night

Posted on February 25, 2014

Physics and astronomy department captures day-old supernova

Jan. 22 was a stellar night for MSUM’s physics and astronomy department.

Professor Juan Cabanela, physics and astronomy, and physics majors Nathan Heidt, Laura Herzog, Michael Meraz, and Beau Scheving, made a trek to the Paul P. Feder Observatory in an attempt to capture images of a day-old supernova.

The supernova, located in the galaxy M82, was temporarily designated PSN J09554214+6940260. Now confirmed, the supernova has been renamed SN 2014j. The stellar explosion, marking the last moments of a star’s life, happened to be one of the closest, and therefore brightest, to occur near the Earth in the last 25 years. Read the rest of this entry →

University Physics Competition was top performing team from the U.S.

Posted on January 14, 2013

MSUM’s University Physics Competition team earned MSUM a bronze medal, and was the top preforming team from the U.S. for the problem they selected, notably defeating NDSU, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upperclassmen Meredith McLinn, Pragalav Karki and Shouvik Bhattacharya modeled the effect an Earth-like planet’s mass has on its volcanic activity. To learn more about the problems and rankings, visit

For more information on their participation, see previous article

Physics upperclassmen participated in the third annual University Physics Competition

Posted on November 19, 2012

Physics upperclassmen Meredith Mc Linn (junior), Pragalv Karki (senior) and Shouvik Bhattacharya (senior) participated in the University Physics Competition 2012. They modeled how masses of the exoplanets affect volcanic activity over time. They used principles of Thermodynamics and Planetary Sciences to solve this problem. Dr. Juan Cabanela served as the adviser of the team. The team was sponsored by the Society of Physics Students (SPS) at the MSUM chapter. Read the rest of this entry →

‘Happy ending to beginning’ of $2.5B Mars rover mission

Posted on August 08, 2012

By: Ryan Johnson, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – While it was built with valid scientific goals in mind, the premise of the six-wheeled, 2,000-pound Curiosity rover and the engineering feat that landed it on Mars early Monday could strike some as more science fiction than reality.

“We have landed a nuclear-powered truck on another world,” said Juan Cabanela, astronomy professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead. “We definitely live in the future.”

Scientists, space enthusiasts and Americans at large watched eagerly as the rover neared its final destination in the Gale Crater shortly after midnight local time Monday. Read the rest of this entry →

Solar eclipse event a success

Posted on May 23, 2012

We had a very successful partial solar eclipse event with mostly clear skies and 100 enthusiastic people. Physics faculty, two physics students, two planetarium staff, and sixteen members of the Fargo-Moorhead Astronomy Club ran the 12 telescopes, attempted a webcast, demonstrated the use of eclipse glasses and gave a brief planetarium demo. The viewing continued until the Sun disappeared behind the trees on the far end of the parking lot, leaving a very satisfied audience.

The event was a collaboration between the Physics & Astronomy Department, the Planetarium and the Astronomy Club. We give a special thanks to Dr. Juan Cabanela for his work.

MSUM and the F-M Astronomy Club to host two astronomy events

Posted on May 17, 2012

Minnesota State University Moorhead and the F-M Astronomy Club will host two sun-related events on MSUM’s campus May 20 and June 5. The events are free and open to the public.

Eclipse Sunset
Date: Sunday, May 20
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: MSUM Parking Lot V-5 Read the rest of this entry →

Juan Cabanela has article accepted for publication

Posted on January 11, 2011

An article co-authored by Juan Cabanela, Physics and Astronomy, has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal. As part of a four-year project, Cabanela and his collaborators obtained detailed spectra for over 4,000 stars, allowing them to measure their motions and chemical compositions. Analysis of the motions and positions of these stars has revealed that as the bar-shaped core of our galaxy rotates past the stars in the disk of the galaxy, it appears to be causing a gravitational wake behind the bar. This gravitational wake consists of a pile up of over a billion stars with a total mass of over 50 million times that of our Sun. The article, entitled “Mapping the Asymmetric Thick Disk. III. The Kinematics and Interaction with the Galactic Bar,” is available in preprint form at

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