By Elyse Breeze
[Photo by Cassidy Danyko, senior biology major]
Last night, a rare astronomical phenomenon brought packs of St. Bonaventure University students to the campus observatory for a night under the stars.
The “super blood moon” is a combination of a lunar eclipse and a super moon – which happens when the moon is closest to the Earth’s orbit – and only occurs once every 33 years. Because the size of the moon appeared only 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than normal, the naked eye is barely able to detect the subtle differences.
The St. Bonaventure University ORION Astronomy Club (Organization of Recreational Inquirers of the Natural World) gave students the opportunity to watch the hour-long event through brand new telescopes.
“There were brand new telescopes that hadn’t been used yet; they had been sitting in boxes for over four years,” said club president and co-founder Tim Stead, a senior biophysics major. “We came up with the idea of starting a club and letting everyone use them.”
The super blood moon brought nearly 100 students and faculty to the observatory. Tiki torches lit the way for those that were sitting in the grass, on the observation deck and upstairs in the dome. The club provided refreshments, trivia games and music to gauge more interest.
“We’re really excited about all of the people here,” said ORION vice president Aidan Wilson, a sophomore engineering physics major, who co-founded the club with Stead in January of 2015. “We thought it would be pretty popular… but we have 70 members now, so it’s going really well.”
The group is in the process of becoming a club chartered by the Student Government Association. They are currently waiting for their constitution to be approved.
Several students who attended the event documented the experience through photos on their social media accounts. Kevin O’Brien, freshman business management major, caught a detailed image through the observatory telescope (left).
“I enjoyed being outside on a beautiful night watching the stars and moon with people that were interested in doing the same thing as me,” O’Brien said.
Other students took to Snapchat to express their disappointment when the moon was hidden behind the clouds.
“I would love to attend another stargazing or astronomy-involved event,” said Allison Plante, a senior strategic communications and digital media major, who uploaded photos to her Instagram account from the event. “I enjoyed the telescopes set up around the observatory.”
The super blood moon will not be visible again until 2033.
Those who are interested in joining may contact Tim Stead (president) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Aidan Wilson (vice president) at email@example.com