By Paula Vasquez
The sky is home to millions of stars, their light reaching Earth for billions of years they after finally burn out.
This means stargazers are really time travelers, observing the same starlight that has shone down on men for millennia. In addition to the stars, planets, moons and satellites also dot the sky. Some of these objects are harder to spot than others. Brookhaven College’s stargazing events make it possible to get a closer look.
Professor of physics and astronomy Anahita Sidhwa said the stargazing activity at Brookhaven helps viewers navigate the vast space of the universe. Stargazing is typically divided into three or four sections to help everyone who attends.
Instructors preside over each section, and various types of telescopes are provided for students or community members to use. The instructors will take requests from participants, aiming the telescopes toward different objects in the sky.
Former Brookhaven student Chris Cason said his experience at Brookhaven stargazing events has been rewarding because he was able to see the moon and comets up close.
Cason said, “You don’t get to see these objects very often in the city.” Cason invited friends to stargazing events and they were able to see Mars, and Jupiter.
Sidhwa said, “Stargazing is beneficial to everyone, because viewers learn how to read a sky map, trace out patterns of the constellations and learn the names of the easily visible stars.”
She said she believes anyone who attends “will probably remember their stargazing long after they have completed the course.”
Sidhwa also said she enjoys watching students “see the rings of Saturn for the first time, the moons of Jupiter and the craters of the moon.” Sidhwa said, “As teachers, it’s satisfying when our students get it.”
Chaz Hafey, astronomy and physics lab coordinator at Brookhaven, said the stargazing event continues to be successful because “it is one of the coolest things to be involved in and to be able to see objects with your own eyes, not just through pictures.”
Hafey attends stargazings to help students with the telescopes and binoculars. He said there is “always something different happening in the sky.”
One event Hafey vividly remembers is the eclipse of the sun that brought a crowd of nearly 200 people, consisting of the general public and students.
He also said in Dallas-Fort Worth, Brookhaven’s stargazing program is the only one to include a public event that large. Brookhaven students are invited to participate in the ongoing stargazing events.
The events are scheduled weekly on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and are held outdoors between K and X buildings on the north end of campus. A public event to view the Comet Ison is scheduled for the middle on November, Sidhwa and Hafey said.
In the case of inclement weather or for more information about Brookhaven stargazing, readers can call the hotline at 972-860-4301.