Astronomy class celebrates stars and galaxies

First Posted: 5/9/2014

When the skies darkened just enough, students of The Abington Community Classroom’s Stars & Galaxies astronomy class got a chance to get a closer look into our universe.

With the assistance of observatory assistant John Sabia and assistant director Jo Ann Kamachitis students peered through the observatory’s RC20 telescope to see the planet Jupiter.

“It’s absolutely fascinating,” student Susan Christensen said. “Everybody should be taking astronomy classes instead of watching television.”

Thomas Cupillari, observatory director of the Thomas G. Cupillari Astronomical Observatory and Keystone College professor of astronomy and physical science, taught a class on May 5 about the stars.

About six people sat in the observatory’s classroom and learned about the life cycle of a star; how they start as a protostar and end as a white dwarf or a black hole.

Cupillari also showed comparisons between the sizes of stars with the size of the sun.

“It’s always nice to work with them (students) especially if they never learned this yet,” Cupillari said. “It’s good to see the look on their faces.”

After working with the RC20, students took turns looking through the Alvan Clark telescope, which allowed them to see a magnified version of the moon.

Kamachitis then turned the students’ attention to the dog star Sirius, which they saw through an 8-inch Dobsonian reflector.

“I’ve been into astronomy as a kid,” Kamachitis said. “You get to get out of the house. You get to have fresh air, and you get to have a feeling for the season.”

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