Starry Skies and Serenity: Campus unites for stargazing event

A collaborative stargazing night as part of Earth Week at Elon drew more than 80 attendees.

In celebration of Earth Week, a harmonious convergence of students and faculty from Historic and Danieley Neighborhoods along with the Office of Sustainability and Counseling Services met at Lake Verona for the “Stargazing for Mental Health” event on Thursday, April 25. With over 80 enthusiasts in attendance, the event marked the second collaborative effort to foster sustainability, mindfulness and cosmic connection.

First year astrophysics major, Matthew Rieck, sets up the Seestar S50 telescope at Lake Verona. Photo by Kevin Otos.

Met by Danieley Faculty Director Evan Small and Associate Director of Sustainability for Education and Outreach Kelly Harer, attendees gathered at Daniel Common at 9 p.m., indulging in celestial-themed snacks and beverages before embarking on a journey of inner peace. Itumeleng Shadrek from Counseling Services led a serene meditation circle, preparing minds for the wonders of the night sky.

On the shores of Lake Verona, blankets were spread beneath the stars, accompanied by a melodic blend of tunes emanating from a portable speaker. Astrophysics and astronomy majors and astronomy minors, including Jonathan Berkson, Myka Thomas, Matthew Rieck, Sam Lindo, Jaylem Cheek and Isabelle English along with Physics Department Lecturer/Historic Faculty Director Claudine Moreau and Historic Faculty in Residence Kevin Otos manned three telescopes and gave breathtaking “Winter Circle” constellation green laser star tours. Colin Vernon, an Environmental Engineering major, treated attendees to real-time views of the Orion Nebula and several globular clusters through the Seestar S50 telescope.

Astronomy major, Myka Thomas, and astrophysics major, Jonathan Berkson, align the 8″ Meade SCT LX-90 telescope for stargazing event on Thursday. Photo by Claudine Moreau.
Image of the Great Orion Nebula taken by Sam Lindo, a first year astrophysics major, with the Seestar S50 on Thursday night.

Danieley and Historic neighborhood Faculty Directors ran raffles to give away prizes including telescopes, galaxy light projectors, and a nebula tapestry. With the resounding success of the event, the prospect of future stargazing gatherings seems pretty stellar, promising a tradition that may well become a cornerstone of campus life at Elon.