(Posted September 30, 2013)

Matthew Beaky, assistant professor of physics and head of the Astronomy Club Photography by Kelly Russo '14

Matthew Beaky, assistant professor of physics and head of the Astronomy Club Photography by Kelly Russo '14

Matthew Beaky, assistant professor of physics at Juniata, has an affinity for the night sky. Recently, he has two new opportunities for Juniata students and the community to learn more about astronomy. Last Monday was the very first Observatory Night of this semester. Students and community members were given maps of the night sky to help find constellations. Beaky operated the telescope in the observatory, allowing students to view star clusters and galaxies. In addition to organizing the observatory nights which will be held throughout the year, Beaky also heads the newly formed Astronomy Club, which he hopes will inspire students to learn more about the sky, learn how to operate telescopes, and visit other observatories in addition to many other opportunities. The dates of the observatory nights can be found online: www.juniata.edu/observatory-nights or on the Juniata Announcements.

Q: Why was the club started?

A: I've heard that a lot of students have an interest in astronomy and they want to use a telescope and learn about the night sky. I think this club is a great way to explore their interests. We have resources on campus that a lot of people aren't aware of, so this would be another way to open students' eyes to what's available on campus.

Q: What about the sky interests you?

A: It interests me because I'm a scientist and I like to think about the science behind the night sky. For a lot of people it's the beauty of it, or our presence in the universe, or the mystery of what we don't know.

Q: What are observatory nights and what is the Astronomy club about?

A: The observatory nights are scheduled for every two or three weeks throughout the year and are meant for everyone and anyone in the college community and Huntingdon to have a chance to look through the telescope. In November, there will be a comet passing through the sky for a week. It's not certain how bright it will be, but it might be able to be seen by the naked eye. The goals of astronomy club are to learn the night sky, learn the telescopes, but also to explore different areas of astronomy by taking trips and attending talks. If anyone wants to get involved, they should send me an email and I'll add them to the list.

Q: What can we learn from the sky?

A: The main thing we can learn is that there's a lot more out there than we can imagine at first. With a telescope we can see way more distant objects. The things beyond our galaxy and even in our galaxy are staggering.

--Hannah Jeffery '16 Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.