Whether you come from a small mountain town in southern France or the concrete jungle of New York City, there’s something to be said about the enchantment of the open sky. The McGill Students’ Astronomy Club, which was started in August 2012 by a few graduate students in the physics department, offers a welcoming environment for members to explore areas of amateur astronomy.
“I joined the club out of pure interest really,” said Jerry Kurian, a master’s student in chemistry. “The universe […] is one of the most interesting things to learn about. There is an insane amount we do not know, and the scale, objects, and materials of the universe blow me away. Thinking about how minuscule we really are is quite a humbling experience.”
Hosting four main types of events throughout the year, the club offers something for everyone—whether you are a physics major who wants an outlet to delve deeper into astrophysics or an Arts student with an appreciation for stargazing. For the more science-oriented individuals, there are “astrotalks,” which are presentations delivered by both students and professors that feature a range of astronomy related topics.
The Astronomy Club also hosts observation nights on the McGill campus. With the aid of an advanced telescope, members are able to examine stars and constellations on a clear, dark night.
The third category of events allows students to observe the sky in a more secluded environment by going on stargazing trips that take place outside of the city.
“We go out to Saint Bernard de Lacolle or Mont Mégantic,” explained Astronomy Club President and U3 physics student, Dhruv Bisaria. “Those are dark sky reserves where you get even better observation quality, so you can get a much better picture of the stars and bring more students there.”
The stargazing trips allow students to witness the night skies first-hand.
“I would tell students that if [they] have any interests in astronomy at all, they should definitely come out to the star gazing event,” Kurian said. “It’s one thing to read about the different galaxies, planets, and stars nearby and be amazed at their different properties, but it’s a completely different experience to actually be there and witness these objects with your own eyes.”
Other events are grouped into a fourth miscellaneous category, which include trips to the planetarium. Bailey Sadowsky, a U2 civil engineering student and the club’s VP Events, is proud of the reputation the Astronomy Club has established.
“I just feel like we’re a club that you can rely on,” Sadowsky said. “You can always look forward to coming and doing something new every week. We’re not going to have the same presentation, the same talk, or even the same trip frequently. It’s always going to be something different.”
In addition to these events, the Astronomy Club also plans social gatherings such as bowling trips, trivia, and game nights. The members’ common interest of astronomy is only a starting point from which many bonds form.
“I feel like it’s important to keep that aspect of a community going,” Bisaria said. “I think we engender that type of community where everyone’s nice [….] We’re an amicable bunch.”
Anyone can join the Astronomy Club at any time. The beauty of astrology is that it’s accessible to everyone, no matter their background.“Where I grew up, when you look into the sky, there are so many city lights that you can’t actually see the stars,” said Lilly Gates, U0 Arts & Science. “But occasionally, when [we] would go to the suburbs, my dad would always point out the constellations and it would almost feel magical being able to see them. Now that I’ve heard about this club, I think it would be fun to experience that magic as a part of a group in the wonderful city of Montreal.”