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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC Astronomy club takes its first look through self-made telescope

Astronomy Club member Mistea Adame follows a laser held by Robert Smith (second from right) with a Dobsonian telescope to locate and observe Jupiter on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, on East Campus at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Astronomy Club has been building the telescope for around 18 months and tested it with fellow City College students for the first time Friday.

As the night fell, the Astronomy club teamed up outside of the Physical Education building to put together its Dobsonian telescope made from scratch, viewing planets beaming in the sky.

The handmade telescope was a year-long project that the club took on after the idea was pitched by club mentor Robert Smith.

The uniquely crafted Dobsonian stands 16 inches tall and collects 10x more light than an average telescope. 

“This is something we’ve dreamed about,” said astronomy professor, Sean Kelly. 

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According to Kelly, the club spent countless hours welding and cutting steel, trying to perfect each piece going into the telescope. 

Before the telescope viewing, Kelly invited guest speaker Leonard Ortiz to City College.

Ortiz works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif. 

At the age of 17, Ortiz realized that working for JPL was his dream job. 

He has applied about twenty times for the past eight years but was always rejected, but he never gave up. 

One year ago he was finally offered a position at JPL.

He’s currently on the Mechanical Fabrication Division team for NASA and discussed their current mission plan for the Mars 2020 rover. 

After the lecture, the club finally set up the telescope as students lit up with excitement and formed a line to view Jupiter and Saturn. 

Kelly also explained how much the students, who took part in it, benefited from this experience. 

“All this work they created is going to be with us for years, twenty years from now they can come visit and see what they’ve created,” he said. 

Smith made a deal with Kelly, that as soon as they had a functioning telescope it would then belong to the club. 

Astronomy club president, Aidan Hogge, and club officer, Brianna Del Pozzo, played a major part in this project. 

Hogge took the lead during the project and described how happy he was to see the telescope up and running. 

“I knew Aidan was the guy for this,” Smith said. 

Del Pozzo came on to the project a semester after it began and spent most of her time working in the shop building the parts to connect each piece. 

She explained the challenges that came with building the telescope, saying that they didn’t have the exact dimensions or a specific mirror size, and it all came down to working around the piece that was donated. 

“It’s been a long journey,” Del Pozzo said. “I’m just glad to see it all finally come together.”  

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