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Looking up at the stars

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Engulfed in darkness, I waited impatiently. Everyone excitedly murmured and joked to one another, until suddenly everything went silent. Slowly, stars began to appear until the room was filled with beautiful unique twinkling stars.

On March 22, Prof. Gary Swangin took the Astronomy Club to the Panther Academy High School’s planetarium to show his students a simulation of space and teach them a basic understanding of the night sky.

Swangin teaches the Astronomy Club about space such as the star placements, the constellations and why things happen on earth, by using Panthers Academy High School’s planetarium that is across the street of PCCC main campus.

Swangin thought using the planetarium was a perfect tool to inform members of the astronomy club.

“The planetarium is a unique environment, because it can simulate what goes on in the real sky; we can see the night sky anywhere in the world—we can see the night sky any time of year up to about 13,000 years and 13,000 years back…” said Swangin.

Members from the Astronomy Club appreciated and were amazed by the planetarium.

“I thought the experience was really amazing, especially when the lights were all off and the stars really came out and you can really tell which one is which...there's all different type of stars,” said Harold Dominguez, secretary of the Astronomy Club.

Other members, like Demi Matos, treasure of the Astronomy Club, thought the display of constellations were astonishing.

“...I don't actually understand how the people years ago figured out those figures, by just looking at the stars; I get amazed from that! Like how can you make a whole man by just three dots in Orion...that made me think that people are creative, you know? They find a way to remember things even though it's abstract as stars,” said Matos.

Due to the recent accomplishment, in building their own telescope from the S.T.E.M budget, their next step for the club is to do an observation.

Prof. Swangin thinks the experience of visiting the planetarium, will help students of the Astronomy club, to learn what to look for in their future observation.

“ I think the very first thing they should get is a basic understanding of the night sky, a basic understanding of the night sky is the thing, it’s not setup so you have to take an exam on astronomy or no astrophysics--it’s just simply that you enjoy the universe and the night sky,” said Swangin.

The Astronomy Club is looking forward to future activities in their club and encourages students to come and learn about space with them.

“Enjoy it! That's all, just enjoy the experience, because it’s a special experience that you can carry with you for the rest of your life, so just go out there and have fun--enjoy the beauty of it and hopefully you derive a sense of humility, because you’ll begin to understand that there are so many things out there that’s so beautiful, so majestic, so...extraordinary!” said Swangin.

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