Spotlight on the Astronomy Club, New College’s favorite stargazers
A photo of the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature planetarium, used by Corinne Hatley in an announcement for a recent Astronomy Club field trip.

Spotlight on the Astronomy Club, New College’s favorite stargazers

While the Astronomy Club usually has their eyes on the sky, lately they have been looking towards the future as they excitedly announce several events for next semester and looking for more officers to run their club. The Astronomy Club—led by president and thesis student Joshua Ingram and co-president, second-year Corinne Hatley—is a student-led organization that educates students on a wide variety of skills and sciences related to astronomy. This includes topics ranging from telescope use and care to the science surrounding space flight and physics. They frequently host stargazing nights, inviting students out to use telescopes provided by the club, and connect with the larger astronomy community beyond stargazing. The astronomy club also takes students out on field trips to the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in addition to a whole other host of events, including the Cosmic Wonders guest speaker series taking place next semester. 

Beyond the fun of stargazing with friends or enjoying the planetarium, the Astronomy Club is a valuable tool for introducing students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields. Hatley cited an event similar to those held by the club as the reason she became interested in pursuing physics.

“That experience of working with [astronomers] and getting to look through a telescope is what made me seriously consider studying physics and pursuing physics as a career,” Hatley stated. 

Ingram goes on to state that one of the goals beyond teaching students how to use a telescope and garnering interest in STEM is the almost life-changing elements of astronomy.

“If you look for that telescope for the first time and you learn about the universe and its scale…it instills a sense of wonder in you,” Ingram said. “It leads you to ask where we came from, why are we here, it gives you a sense of perspective.”

One of the other significant roles of the Astronomy Club is to get students involved with the astronomy community. Hatley praises the community for its supportive and welcoming nature, referencing how in the early days of the Astronomy Club, local astronomers provided the club with telescopes. In addition to being a supportive welcoming community, Hatley said that she believes that after the pandemic, the astronomy community has been an invaluable resource in providing students with something they can be a part of even if they lack any experience in astronomy. 

For students who would like to learn more about the astronomy community, the aforementioned Cosmic Wonders speaker series is a great opportunity to hear from experts, including a speaker from the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and deputy project manager for the Hubble Space Telescope Jim Jeletic.

Unfortunately, the Astronomy Club has run into a significant issue. Ingram and Hatley are the only officers, and they will both be graduating soon—Ingram graduates this spring and Hatley in fall 2022. 

“We’ve put so much work into getting this club to the point that it’s at now, we’ve purchased equipment, we’ve made all these great connections within the community and we really want to see this club persist when we graduate, so we need officers,” Hatley said. “We need people that are interested in learning how to run the club.” 

“They will be making immense efforts in the spring to train anyone interested in helping run the club,” Hatley goes on to state. “You don’t need to know anything about physics. You just have to want to learn how to use a telescope and be willing to make connections to our partners who are important to us.”

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