The new St. George Astronomy Group gives students and members of the St. George community a chance to see through the lens of a telescope.
The SGAG has been running unofficially since 2013, but the group became an official club of amateur astronomers Sept. 13, with a president, vice president, and so forth. Although the club is open to more than just those who are enrolled at DSU, the SGAG is a new resource for students who want to find out more about astronomy.
Irem Dilek, a freshman general education major from Izmir, Turkey, said the club will help with her pursuit of an astrophysics degree at graduate school.
“It’s nice to have a club here that cares about astronomy,” Dilek said. “I am excited to be able to go look at the stars and the planets.”
Whether you are interested in space or not, the SGAG will show you things that you have never seen before, SGAG representative Mark Shelton from Toquerville said.
The SGAG promotes astronomy in the greater St. George area by giving the public access to telescopes and astronomy experts. The group hosts meetings at DSU on the second Tuesday of every month, where a guest comes to speak about an aspect of astronomy. The SGAG also hosts star parties every month around new moon.
“You see pictures of [space] all of the time, but to actually be there and see [space] is something else,” SGAG representative Donald Warner said.
During star parties, members of the SGAG and the community meet in a designated area with as little light pollution as possible to showcase outer space. Some of these areas are certified as dark sky parks.
If an area isn’t DSP certified, the SGAG can help the area become certified by hosting events there. Some dark sky parks near St. George include Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. With clear weather, the moon, stars and constellations should be visible from these spots.
Star parties help bring the community together to learn about astronomy, Shelton said. The SGAG will provide a telescope for visitors or teach them how to use one of their own.
“Everything we do is open to the public and free,” Shelton said. “If you are interested in astronomy, come to one of our meetings or star parties and see how fascinating [astronomy] can really be.”
DSU Art Professor Alexander Chamberlain will be speaking about astrophotography at the SGAG meeting October 11. The next star party will be Sept. 30 at Quail Creek State Park.