Wednesday night Star Parties hosted on the roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall offer attendees a new perspective of space by letting them view the night sky through a professional, high grade telescope.
Story by Alyssa Hiarker
Illustration by Sabrina Lau
Hosted once a week by the University of Texas at Austin’s astronomy department, the Wednesday night Star Parties give attendees access to the high grade telescope located on the roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall.
For Lara Eakins, the Administration Program Coordinator who leads the weekly Star Parties, the ability to show people high-grade images of space drives her. “A lot of people have never looked through a telescope in their life and this is a large, robust telescope that people actually have the chance to look through. It’s an incomparable feeling to watch them use it.”
Despite being located on UT’s campus, Star Parties are free and accessible to anybody who is interesting in attending. “We wrote it into the grants,” Eakins says. “It boils down to being able to share things with people.”
Even though Michelle Almonte, a Business student at UT, has never really been interested in space or science, being able to utilize the telescope was still an engaging and interesting experience. “Some people really enjoy space and some people really enjoy science. As someone who really doesn’t favor space or science, it’s still really cool and enriching experience.”
Many students attend the Star Parties for credit in their astronomy classes, incurring longer lines towards the end of the semester. “We have students who come up for classes as well so the further into the semester we get the more crowded it gets,” Eakins says.
Milia Daher, an Art and Entertainment Technologies major at UT, advises to call ahead and be prepared before coming to Star Parties since weather affects whether the weekly events will be hosted. “You should call first to make sure it’s not cancelled because sometimes they cancel them for weather conditions.”
For Divina Ceniceros Dominguez, a Journalism student at UT, being able to attend Star Parties is one way that UT gives her access to resources that she would be unable to utilize in her small hometown. “I like that we have opportunities like this at UT. I’m from a small town and we don't have opportunities like that there.”