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Zach Garmoe for TRW

Meet the stars: students explore telescope despite scheduling confusion

Scheduling confusion led to disappointed students who hoped to see UMBC’s telescope on Thursday in the wake of the astronomy craze produced by the super blood moon. (seb) listed the party on myUMBC, offering free pizza and prizes beginning at 10 p.m. (after Thursday evening, the listing was changed to 7 p.m.). However, the (seb) Facebook listing for the event listed that it began at 7:10 p.m. The discrepancy led to some frustration from students who walked in on the tail end of the astronomy club’s regular meeting.

Although the club was wrapping up their meeting, which takes place Thursdays at 9 p.m., they took students up to see the telescope. To get to the telescope, students have to climb two steep sets of metal stairs and climb through a hatch door.

Shannon Carney for TRW
Shannon Carney for TRW

Partah Khandge, a senior studying mechanical engineering, was among the twenty students who came to the observatory at 10 p.m.

“I found out about the event through the (seb) calendar,” Khandge said. “I’m not too bummed, I’ve been to worse (seb) events.”

He was less concerned about the pizza and prizes, and really wanted to see the telescope. The astronomy club’s impromptu tour turned a negative into a positive for Khandge and others.

“I thought [the telescope] was really cool, I’ll definitely come to the next open house at the right time,” Khandge said.

The university offers other opportunities to see this unique resource. The physics department holds open houses the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. A physics professor and graduate student lead the open houses and answer questions.

On a clear night, the astronomy club will also use the telescope to search the galaxy and take pictures of the stars. Jared Sharp, a sophomore majoring in physics, is the club president. Sharp aims to increase membership this year. In addition to the observatory, he and his fellow officers have planned other events for club members.

“If the weather’s not cooperating like tonight we usually watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos,” Sharp said. He added, “sometimes if the weather’s clear we’ll also take our personal telescopes, no matter how shoddy they are and we’ll take them to the top of the Commons garage.”

Sharp has also lined up several guest speakers who have been involved with NASA space missions to come talk to the club.

“We are a fairly informal way to enjoy the stars, if anyone wants to come along with a telescope to play with on a good night or if they want to see some Neil deGrasse Tyson, sit around and talk about space, they’re always welcome to come join us,” Sharp said.