From the twinkling lights of the stars to the glow of a full moon, students have the opportunity to enjoy the heavens with the astronomy club at Riverfront Park.
All students are welcome as prior knowledge of astronomy is not required.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a physics major, it doesn’t matter if you have an astronomy minor, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) major,” said Kyle Denny, a junior majoring in physics and president of the astronomy club. “You could be anything and you could come join the astronomy club. It is open to anyone who just wants to connect and learn about the universe and appreciate it.”
“We do a lot of events, too, when planets are in opposition,” said Kami Malestein, a junior majoring in physics and astronomy club vice president.
The astronomy club hosts many activities such as stargazing, full moon watching and eclipse viewing. Students with telescopes or binoculars are encouraged to bring them.
One of Denny’s favorite events was Mercury’s transit in May of last year.
“We watched the planet Mercury go in front of the sun,” Denny said. “we had a great turnout for that one.”
The number of students at an event varies from five to 10 people on stormy nights to a hundred for occurrences such as the Mercury transit.
An even larger turnout is expected for the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21 the viewing location on campus is yet to be determined.
“Although it won’t be a total eclipse visible over USF, there will be a partial phase. Eighty percent of the sun will be blocked out, and it’ll be on the very first day of school,” Denny said. “People are going to stop by and wonder what’s going on with the sun, so they get a chance to look at the sun in a really spectacular event.”
Most of the club’s events take place at Withlacoochee River Park or Riverfront Park, with transportation through students driving themselves or joining a carpooling list.
The astronomy club is one of a few clubs that remain active during the summer. Their next event is scheduled for the next full moon June 9 at Riverfront Park.
“The times that there are not thunderstorms, the Milky Way is nice and prominent in the night sky. You can see it from horizon to horizon,” Denny said. “It’s a really inspiring experience. So, the summer is probably the best time to really look up at the night sky and really appreciate it.”