On this Giving Tuesday I wanted to give thanks for the honor and opportunity of serving as one of CCSU’s celestial tour guides since 1989. Last night my Observational Astronomy class practiced for their public observing sessions (this coming Sunday through Wednesday, December 3-6 – more on this tomorrow!) and I was impressed with how far they’ve come since the first night in the observatory in late August. Some of them had never looked through a telescope before seeing Saturn and Jupiter that first night. Now they are operating the instruments without my help, slewing across the night sky by hand and finding galaxies, star clusters, and double stars.
It definitely took hard work on the part of the students to get to this point, and the Copernican Planetarium here at CCSU played an important role. On cloudy nights we would use the planetarium to hone the students’ skill in pointing out the constellations and bright stars and navigating their way across the sky from horizon to horizon.
As you might imagine, planetariums and observatories need upkeep, and it isn’t cheap. While the university graciously supports our endeavors to keep the night sky free for all to enjoy by paying for our base budget, yearly service contract, and single fulltime staff member, we sometimes have to rely on the funds we raise ourselves to supplement this (for example, when we brought in a contractor to service the observatory dome). I am proud to say that I donate to the planetarium fund every year, but I don’t want to be selfish – I want to invite everyone to be a “star” and have the joy and satisfaction of knowing that they helped support our good work in bringing the universe down to earth for the citizens of Connecticut and beyond.
So on this Giving Tuesday, I am giving thanks by renewing my support for our projects, and invite you to do so as well. The sky belongs to all of us; let’s hold hands and support it together!