You are invited to view the fall constellations on Dec. 2.
The Stanford Astronomical Society (SAS), the campus astronomy club, was founded in 2000. A registered voluntary student organization, approved by the Office of Student Activities, it promotes astronomy on campus and in the community. SAS members range from amateurs to experts. Everyone is welcome.
"What I love about the Stanford Astronomical Society is its diversity," said Federico Rossi, doctoral candidate in aeronautics and astronautics and SAS president. "Where else can you find a world-class astrophysics researcher showing Saturn for the first time to a freshman?"
Ari Esters '15, a chemical engineering student and vice president of SAS, agreed. "I can personally attest to both the diversity of academic interests and range of experience amongst our membership. Many members, including myself, joined SAS without any observation experience, but with a fervor to learn more about the cosmos. SAS provided me with the opportunity to enjoy the company of other equally enthusiastic students while learning more about the universe. The group frequently hosts open events to students and the greater Stanford community, offering activities for beginners and seasoned observers of all ages to enjoy."
The invitation to join SAS could not be more inclusive. The officers state on the website that even if you think that comets are omens of war or that variable stars are demons trapped in a mysterious realm, you are invited to join. There is no fee and new members are always welcome.
Society activities include campus stargazing roughly twice a month with the society's 16-inch and 8-inch telescopes, quarterly off-campus outings away from urban light pollution, safe solar observations, special viewings of unusual astronomical activity, and visits to local astronomy talks. SAS equipment is available for stargazing, or you can bring your own. Events are generally open to the entire Stanford community – undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff – and to the public.
Campus star gazing with Stanford Astronomical Society. Photo by Eric Thong '15 at the Stanford Daily.
The next SAS event is a special ethnoastronomy night on Dec. 2. Itay Rosenzweig, a doctoral candidate in civil and environmental engineering, will introduce the fall constellations and recount their place in Western and non-Western mythology, with particular attention to Native American and East Asian starlore.
SAS financial officer Albert Wandui, an engineering physics major, shared his enthusiasm for the society. "Joining the Astronomical Society was definitely one of the highlights of my freshman year. Stargazing always takes me back home to Nairobi, Kenya. It reminds me of the darker and clearer skies at home that I never appreciated until I left."
Rossi observed that astronomy also takes us back to our ancestral roots. "When we look upwards, we see the same skies, minus the occasional star gone nova, that our ancestors gaped at from the plains of the Tigris and of the Euphrates, thousands of years ago. We look back in time as well as in space: the light we see from Deneb, one of the brightest summer stars, left the blue supergiant as Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege on Jerusalem in 600 B.C. In a sense, every time we peer at the skies, we connect with the billions of humans who, since the beginning of time, peered into the darkness surrounding our home among the stars and, like us, were filled with wonder."
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