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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Astronomy students head deeper into space with their visit to planetarium

The room slowly grows darker. What once was a concave screen overhead turns into the night sky. Leaning back against their chairs, 43 astronomy students forget for a moment that they are just in a planetarium. The presentation begins and the students watch in amazement as the Earth gets smaller and smaller.

During fourth and fifth period on Nov. 12, the astronomy students visited the De Anza Planetarium, where they saw a show about exoplanets and the night sky.

Senior Lukas Pettersson’s favorite part occurred when the presenter controlled the image on the huge screen, zooming back from Earth and the solar system until they could not be seen anymore among the other stars.

“It helped me realize how truly massive the universe is,” Pettersson said. “Like you hear that it’s big, but the visualization [the speaker] gave us really helped emphasize that.”

Senior Sydney Torrens found that the speaker Karl von Ahnen’s liveliness was her favorite part about the presentation.

“He was really funny and it was neat to see someone who was so excited about astronomy,” Torrens said.

She also really enjoyed that many of her friends went on the trip with her.

Senior Samie Davey said it “was just nice to just sit back and watch the stars.”

Astronomy teacher Jill McCrystal has been taking her students to this planetarium for the past eight years.

“I love that they have good shows and part of the show is always showing what the night sky will look like for that night so students who want to could actually go out and look at the stars they’ve just learned, which I think is really cool,” McCrystal said. “When you’re lying back in the seats, it makes you feel like you’re lying under stars in the mountains.”

According to McCrystal, one of the best parts of the trip this year was that it happened to fall on the day that astronomical history was being made. On the same day, NASA landed space probe Philae, a detachment of spaceship Rosetta, on Comet 67P. Rosetta had previously been orbiting the comet for a year. This is the first time that anything has been able to land on a comet. McCrystal found it an awesome coincidence.

“There’s just so much happening in astronomy right now, like almost every week practically, so this is cool that it happened today,” McCrystal said.

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