Planetary Society hosts monthly star parties

By Tracy Moronatty

On Thursday night, the star party that was to be held on the rooftop of the science building was canceled due to cloud interference, leaving students disappointed.

Student members of the Cal Poly Pomona Planetary Society said that clouds are just one of the struggles of being an astronomer.

Club members, with the assistance of professor Matthew Povich, host monthly star gazing events on the second Thursday of each month.

This month, the night sky was congested with clouds preventing viewing of the stars.

May will bring the last star party of the quarter, weather permitting.

At the event, three to five telescopes are set up on the roof by certified students.

The students who host the event are also equipped with facts and knowledge for anyone who seeks information about the cosmos.

“I feel lucky that we have telescopes on campus to show people what is out there. We teach science through a lens,” said Alex Willard, a second-year computer engineering student.

Star parties are public events for people to see and learn about the wonders of the universe and are also used as a training tool.

The club goes to public schools to host star parties with K-12 students through their BUILD Program.

The BUILD program allows club members to share their experiences with other students who do not have equitable access to resources.

Through these experiences, CPP students are inspiring children to reach for the stars.

“I love seeing the reaction of the little kids. Kids for the first time that they see the stars are shocked. Sometimes they ask questions that I would not expect to be asked, like, ‘How do you know about that?'” said Jose Barrios, a third-year physics student.

The monthly star parties and BUILD Program were founded two years ago.

Club members are always welcoming and ready to lend a helping hand.

All CPP students, regardless of major, can join the Planetary Society and could be certified to assist with the telescopes.

To become certified as a student telescope operator and be able to check-out and operate one of the school’s telescopes, students would have to attend several monthly telescope training workshops to learn how to handle the large and pricey tools.

Once certified, students are welcome to assist with the star parties and beyond.

The Moon

Courtesy of CPP Planetary Society

The Moon

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