Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BYU Daily Universe Covers Salt Lake Astronomy Events

I was asked by the faculty advisors for the BYU Astronomical Society to write a response to a recent BYU Daily Universe article on stargazing in Salt Lake City. We found it odd that a reporter would travel all the way up to Salt Lake to talk about all of the University of Utah associated Salt Lake Astronomical Society events that BYU students should participate in - when we have a perfectly awesome Astronomical Society of our own!

The following link will download a pdf of the Oct 19 edition of the Daily Universe, with the article of interest on the 4th page, entitled, "People gaze at heavens at star party," by Monica Redd.

And here's my response, hopefully soon to be published:

Dear Editor,

I'd like to congratulate the Daily Universe on an informative and interesting article about a stargazing event held two weekends ago in Salt Lake City. Observing the heavens with quality telescopes and knowledgeable guides can be a thrilling experience.

An apt subject for next week's paper could be a week-old report on the BYU Astronomical Society's star party, held this past Friday night. You could speak about the number of quality telescopes the public looked through, the excellent local skies, or the subtle grandeur of the Veil Nebula showing the remains of an ancient stellar explosion. Better yet, you could inform readers of weekly star gazing opportunities on the roof of the Eyring Science Center, monthly star parties held just up the canyon near Vivian Park, or of the fantastic weekly planetarium shows presented right here on BYU campus.

While BYU Astronomical Society events can't boast "star dances," "star songs," or "the most powerful optical telescope in the Intermountain West," we can boast a great local dark sky location, frigid year-round star parties (when the stars are the best and a warm companion is a must!), and, of course, an undying loyalty to the Cougars and to the ways of righteousness and happiness (unlike our "star teacher" friends up at the U).

So next time instead of traveling an hour to learn about the universe from the red devils of the north and their friends try stopping by your local planetarium and save yourself some gas.

(And, for the record, BYU has the largest optical telescope in the state – it’s just not open to the public.)

Nicholas Herrick
President - BYU Astronomical Society