RHS Welcomes New Astronomy Club
February 14, 2019
Bonnie Gasdia, Veritas Staff
In 2018, Rockland High welcomed another club to the school, the astronomy club. If you enjoy stargazing, or want to learn how to use a telescope, then the astronomy club may be a good fit for you.
The idea of the club started when science teacher, Robert Murphy received a $3,000 grant last spring from the Rockland Education Foundation to purchase a telescope and develop an astronomy program for Rockland students.
Mr. Murphy said, “Part of the proposal was to develop a club that would make the telescope available not only to high school students but to elementary and middle school students in Rockland and provide them with opportunities to stargaze and learn about the stars and planets.”
Since September students have been meeting on Fridays in Mr. Murphy’s room to learn how to put the telescope together, and understand how it works.
According to Mr. Murphy, the quality of the Orion Opticalis makes it powerful enough to see the craters on the Moon and the rings of Saturn. Soon enough the students will have an opportunity to stargaze.
Junior Zach Webb, and president of the astronomy club was asked by Mr. Murphy to join the club when it began.
“I’ve always been fascinated with what lies above. In addition, I’ve also been interested in the scale of the universe,” said Webb.
He added, “As it’s still a new club we’ve just been planning so far but pretty soon we’ll take the telescope out to observe the sky some night in the near future.”
Zach Solomon, a sophomore in the club, was also interested when Mr. Murphy told him he was starting a new club.
“It seemed like a pretty good idea to grow my knowledge and experience of outer space.”
John Ellard, another club member said, “I joined the club because I’ve always been intrigued by space. It’s just awesome to talk with other students who have this same curiosity as me.”
He also said, “I enjoy applying knowledge we’ve learned from the classroom to firsthand experiences. It makes science a much cooler thing to study.”
For the present, Mr. Murphy says, “Our primary goal is to put all the pieces of the telescope together, understand how they work and become as comfortable as possible utilizing it to its optimum functions. We actually purchased a portable battery that is used to power the telescope when outlets are unavailable. We also will be testing the programs of the on-board computer and learning how to navigate the night sky.”
He explained, “We also are planning with Mr. Conklin’s Construction Technology courses to build an observatory on RHS grounds.”
Hopefully, in the near future Rockland Public Schools will have a new building to observe the stars and planets with its brand new telescope.
As President Webb said, “It’s just totally bodacious to see how the club has blossomed as far as new members and their own interests and goals within the club.”