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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Chance to stare at stars, planets

ETHAN PLINSKY
reporter
collegian.editor@tccd.edu

Students who attend astronomy classes on NE Campus are encouraged to view the stars and galaxies through telescopes on most clear nights.

NE associate professor of physics and astronomy Raymond Benge said he occasionally sets up telescopes for public viewings, such as an eclipse or a close approach by Mars.

“The telescopes are primarily used by students in the astronomy classes,” Benge said. “The night class uses the telescopes most clear nights.”

One student said she has enjoyed using the telescopes in the class.

“I have always wanted to look at the moon through a telescope, just have never had the chance,” NE student Savannah Davis said.

On clear nights, telescopes are available for the community to allow everyone to see through them. Another student said she appreciated the lucky chance to be able to use the telescopes.

“I think it is very cool that they set up telescopes so that we can see through them,” NE student Yadira Sanchez said. “It is allowing us an opportunity some of us would like to have.”

In the past, TCC students have gone on field trips to set up telescopes in area state parks to view the sky.

“In recent years, the college has clamped down on field trips, making them harder to do,” Benge said. “Also, with the pandemic, such activities stopped and have not fully restarted.”

Before the pandemic, the campus had an active astronomy club, and the club would often use and assist in setting up the telescopes. The coronavirus has stopped student club participation in many clubs, including astronomy.

“Sometimes, the Astronomy Club would set up telescopes for public events, but there are no current student members,” Benge said. “It is difficult to set up telescopes without students from the club helping.”

Whenever there is a night that the TCC-affiliated club assembles its telescopes, it is accessible to all of the public, not just students. 

“I have started working again with state parks and other institutions to occasionally help with public astronomy nights,” Benge said. “I will take telescopes when the events are open to the public. We will be doing one soon with Tarleton State University.”

Using a telescope is not highly accessible to everyone. 

“The last time I used a telescope was in elementary school,” Sanchez said. 

Because telescopes are rare for most people to use, a majority of people view the stars with their eyes more often than with a telescope.

“The last time I viewed the stars was two weeks ago on the way to see my friend in Lubbock,” Davis said. “There are not many lights, so I like to pull over at night to look at the stars.”

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