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Stargazers study universe to find place in it

Staff April 13, 2012 News No Comments

Whether for navigation or astrophysics, mankind has been studying the stars for centuries. On Tuesday, April 3, the Honor Board hosted a stargazing event with Gregory Mack, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, at the Student Observatory.

The Student Observatory is located between Peace and Justice House and Stuyvesant Hall. It houses a 9.5 inch refracting telescope made in 1896, Mack said.

According to Mack, the Honor Board hosted a star gazing event last spring, but the event was cancelled due to rain. This year, the sky was clear and the stars and planets were visible in the sky.
Mack gave students a tour of the observatory and located Venus, Mars and the Orion nebula in the telescope for students to view.

Senior Celeste Taylor took the opportunity to tour the observatory and look at the planets. She said even though she lives right next door to the observatory, she has never been inside.

“The Student Observatory really gives students who don’t have broad knowledge in astronomy unique experience in observing the universe,” Taylor said. “I got to see other planets for the first time so I was really excited about that.”

Taylor said it is important to study the stars because it puts us in a universal context.

“Knowing what is out there is important for a variety of reasons, including the fact that we may one day have to be able to identify why and how our planet fits in to a broader context,” Taylor said. “Astronomy combines many of the other scientific disciplines.”

Sophomore Sam Sonnega said he goes to the Student Observatory any chance he gets.

“Studying space holds an important role in recognizing the larger emergent patterns in our universe,” Sonnega said. “Gaining a more holistic understanding of the movements of the cosmos can allow us to better understand our place in them.”

Sonnega said the Student Observatory needs some renovations for structural stability. He said the telescope should be preserved because of the historical significance to OWU and Delaware.

Senior Brad Turnwald said he attended the event because he was curious to learn more about the stars and universe from Mack. He said it was a good opportunity to explore the Student Observatory.

“Dr. Mack demonstrated the role that the study of the universe has played throughout history ranging from an explanation to the origins of mankind and existence to a navigation tool,” Turnwald said.

“I learned how to use the North Star as a navigating tool, as well as a few of the constellations.”

Mack said he grew up looking at space. He said he used to sit outside with books about stars and try to locate constellations in the night sky.

“I bought my first telescope in eighth grade with paper-boy money,” Mack said. “I saw Jupiter and some nebulae. I came to OWU wanting to study astronomy and physics.”

Sophomore Matthew Jamison and junior Anna Cooper helped organize the event. Jamison said they wanted to host an event that was a good study break. He said Mack was enthusiastic about the event as well.

“The Honors Board hosts events to bring the OWU Honors community together,” Jamison said. “All of our events are free and open to all Honors students and some events, like stargazing or the Life Raft Debate we hosted last week, are open to the entire campus.”

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