Stars abound

Public can be starstruck at Macalester observatory

Hannah Goldenberg

When recalling previous Public Nights at the Macalester College’s observatory, laboratory supervisor and observatory manager Brian Adams laughs.

“It gives me great joy when someone has their first look through a telescope, especially young children. They will hoot and holler or they will talk to their moms and dads and say ‘wow, that was really incredible,’” Adams said. “I like to be able to give that to people at these events. I get a lot of reward from showing people objects through the telescope.”

Although junior Ryan Gemilere has never attended this particular observatory, he said he has visited observatories at other institutions. He said they offer an experience to feel closer to the stars.

“It’s just cool because you are looking at an object millions of miles away and you are seeing it and it feels like it’s a lot closer to you,” Gemilere said. “Since it is an observatory, there is a lot of advanced equipment, so people would get to look at the stars with more than just the naked eye and learn more about them.”

According to Adams, Macalester students involved in physics courses lead the Public Nights, an opportunity for the general public to use the observatory to view the night sky.

“(Public Nights) are a chance for not only Macalester College students to come to the observatory and look through the telescopes, but also for Macalester neighborhood and the general public,” Adams said. “It is our form of outreach to the community, as much as we are capable of.”

Adams said the observatory points its telescopes at the moon, planets, bright stars and star clusters. He said Public Nights offer those who attend the chance to connect with the night sky as much as they can from the city.

Daniella Etzion

“Later in the fall the Andromeda Galaxy will be up in the sky and we can look at that,” Adams said. “The problem with observing galaxies from a metropolitan area means the sky is so bright. Seeing much detail from them is difficult from the cities.”

Gemilere said he enjoys looking at stars because he feels it satisfies a sense of wonder and curiosity in his mind.

“I find it really fascinating to just think about how vast the universe actually is and how small the earth is and how much there is to explore,” Gemilere said.

People find joy in astronomy, according to Adams, because of the feeling they get when they look up into the open night sky.

“When you are in a place where you don’t have a lot of streetlights, and you go out in the country and look out and you can see so many stars and the milky way, it’s overwhelming,” Adams said.

Adams said he encourages students to attend the next event, even if they aren’t interested in science or astronomy.

“There are a lot of amateur astronomers in the country, and it gives them a chance if they haven’t had a chance to look through or use a telescope, they can get experience that way,” Adams said. “I hope that everyone has a curiosity that most astronomers do about the sky and the objects in it, and I hope they come here to satisfy some of that curiosity.”

The next Public Night takes place 8:30-10:30 p.m. Oct. 25.