A night under the stars

Students were able to step into the shoes of an astronomer  by having a place to learn and star-gaze.

Physics Department Chair Dale Fields dedicated Thursday night to offering students the chance and equipment to observe the celestial bodies at this semester’s first Telescope Night that took place on the balcony of the Center for the Sciences Building.

“I thought everyone should be able to have the opportunity to experience looking through a telescope. And what better way to promote this chance at experiencing something unusual than to have a free event where people come by and see the rings of Saturn for the first time ever?” Fields said.  

Fields said that many people, his students included, never get the chance to look through a telescope.

Joshua Becker, an astronomy tutor and former student of Fields’, assisted in setting up the telescopes and informing guests of what they were observing during the event.

Becker said  there is always something new and impressive to see at each Telescope Night.  

“Tonight’s winter sky is very unique, mainly because of the moon. A lot of Nebulas, star clusters and planet Uranus were also visible, and everyone got to see the Orion Nebula tonight,” Becker said.

Telescope Night drew a diverse crowd of skywatchers; some familiar with astronomy, and others simply curious, open minded and eager to experience new things.  

Second year student Olaide Akintunde attended her first Telescope Night on Thursday and enjoyed her viewing experience.

“My first visual through the telescope was of the moon. It was pretty cool, and so surreal,” Akintunde said. “I had only seen the moon through either television shows or pictures. But being able to see it with my own eyes through a real telescope was exhilarating. I am definitely attending the next Telescope Night.”  

Fields said he appreciates the experience of being able to show students something he enjoys.  

“I mainly enjoy the fact that people get to see something they’ve never seen before. These people get so excited,” Fields said. “To see someone squeal just by looking at the moon up close for the first time, giving it a double take due not believing how real the sight is, is so delightful for me to watch.”