The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Astronomy Club is back in orbit and in person after 19 months

Astronomy instructor Sean Kelly aligns a telescope towards Saturn during an astronomy club meeting on Oct. 9 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. This was the club’s first in-person event in over 19 months.

The sun is about to go down behind the mountains of Santa Barbara and the members of City College’s astronomy club gather at the Winslow Maxwell overlook on the night of Friday, Oct. 8 to have the first ‘pizza party’ of the year.

It’s a little windy, but the sky is perfectly clear, ideal for the 20-odd participants who came to see the stars.

“The club is welcome to anyone,” Club Officer Catalina Matlock said. “You don’t have to know anything about astronomy.” 

Sean Kelly, one of the astronomy teachers who brought the club to life, stands in front of all the people who made it that night and welcomed everyone with a big smile to the first in-person club event in over 19 months.

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However, the party is not only about pizza. The event offers the chance to take a look through several high-tech telescopes, each of which looks towards different planets such as Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and the moon.

The astronomy club went mostly silent during the COVID-19 lockdown as Zoom meetings were the only possible way to come together.

But now, the newly elected president and officers of the club start the semester with fresh energy and motivation. They are not only looking forward to organizing some interesting events but are also happy about everyone who decided to join them. Club events are open to astronomy majors as well as members of the public.

“The people have an interest in science. That just makes getting to know other people that much easier, because you already have that commonality of the love of science,” astronomy enthusiast and community member Tom Carroll said.

“The milky way ends up looking like a cloud, some of us stay up until 2 a.m. looking at stars.”

The group of participants, which couldn’t be more diverse, emphasizes this.

As Santa Barbara’s starry sky slowly became visible, students, instructors, community members and children reached for a slice of pizza.

Apart from events like this, club officers are also planning future night hikes, star parties, inviting guest speakers, visiting the Griffith Observatory and going on camping trips.

The later events are particularly popular among the club members, as they bring their telescopes up to the mountains to a height of 7,000 feet where the sky is much clearer.

Robert Smith, who has been part of the club since 2016, is convinced that it’s not only a great way for students to take responsibility but that it’s also a chance for all of them to learn from each other.

“It’s time to give back. Now it’s time to turn around and help other people grow,” Smith said. “What you want is to teach them how to find what it is they’re looking for.”

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