Getting to know the Astronomy Club at MVHS

While the path of stars or the origins of planets don’t cross most peoples’ minds on an average day, members of the MV Astronomy Club would beg to differ. Created by sophomores Aarna Burji and Riddhi Shedge this year, this club tackles the great unknowns of our universe and educates students on astronomy. 

However, this isn’t the first time this club has formed at MVHS; there was another Astronomy Club just three years ago. The president of the club at the time, Michael Yang, is currently a junior at UCLA, but his love for astronomy has not diminished.

“Astronomy essentially tackles everything out there beyond Earth. The universe is so vast, yet the furthest we’ve gotten to is the moon,” Yang said. “There is so much we don’t know, and the sheer magnitude of what is still left to be discovered is both intimidating and intriguing.”

Burji has a similar perspective of astronomy, leading her to create the club again this year. 

“The fact that there’s so much to explore and so much to discover is the main thing that interests me about astronomy,” Burji said. “There are many things that you would never ever see on this planet, and that makes you realize there are things way bigger than yourself.”

While astronomy addresses celestial objects that are millions of miles away and billions of years old, the subject is still important to present-day students. Why? Because astronomy is one of the few things that connects everyone on Earth. Shedge agrees, saying that because astronomy is relevant to all of us, it is beneficial to have some knowledge surrounding it.

“We’re all living on the same planet and we’re all looking up at the same night sky; [hence], we should all feel some sort of connection to astronomy,” Shedge said. “Even if it’s not in our future careers, at least being able to look up and realize what’s out there [is] a really important thing that many people should have.”

Yet, even though the experience of looking up at the sky and wondering how it all came to be is universal, this interest is unfortunately short-lived in many cases. According to the Vatican Observatory, learning astronomy is similar to learning a foreign language—there are certain concepts that have to be mastered in order to continue, leading many people to be intimidated by the subject’s difficult contents. But like many subjects, with the right resources, studying astronomy becomes much more approachable. The Astronomy Club serves as a community resource to support those who want to start, but don’t know where or how to. 

“When I was growing up, I realized that there are not many community resources for astronomy,” said Shedge. “I had to self-study a lot with videos and books, but there’s a limit to how much you can self-study.” 

Burji agrees, feeling that the lack of astronomy education resources is what keeps people from staying interested and continuing to learn astronomy.

“Providing students with a supportive and encouraging learning space where they can explore their interests is so necessary,” Burji said, “It’s so surprising that Monta Vista doesn’t already have an astronomy club, but bringing a supportive space for students at Monta Vista is important.”

In order to educate MVHS students about astronomy, Burji and Shedge plan to host many activities, including inviting guest speakers from various fields of astronomy and organizing stargazing events. Stargazing is not only an educational event that teaches members how to use telescopes and identify constellations, but it can also help them relax and be more compassionate towards others. Participants of a study related to stargazing felt much more peaceful and in-awe of nature after the experience. As a result of these emotions, people start to realize how large the universe truly is, becoming more caring to those around them. Yang agrees with this study, adding that stargazing has provided him with a broader perspective.

“Stargazing helps us realize how vast the universe is.” Yang said. “We may think we understand the endlessness of the universe, but when you actually go out there and see all the stars, it’s just a completely different feeling.” 

For Yang, stargazing brings him to reality, since what the stargazer is really seeing is actually what he’s seeing.It’s not just some image on the internet.

For most of us, in the post-Internet generation, we are not aware of just how much of the world we interact with is happening through screens—and astronomy provides a new way of looking at and experiencing the world. 

“Regardless of who we are, the night sky is something that connects us all,” Burji said. “And to know that there’s something way bigger than us, but is universal to everyone, it’s a good way to ground us and I think that’s why people should learn about astronomy. It brings a sense of unity.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s