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Barry STAR School Astronomy

STAR School
receives Donation of Four Telescopes

STAR School Receives Donation of Four Telescopes
Thursday, May 5, 2016

For the past couple years Thomas Tomas, head of the STAR School science program, along with the STAR administration, has been endeavoring to build their STAR STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program during and after school hours which includes improving their astronomy program for their Navajo students. This coming school year they hope to earn status as a certified STEM school. Our astronomy program has really taken flight this year to the credit of many teaming up to benefit the STAR students and family members.

Thomas Tomas, along with Kiril Kirov, a CCC, and now NAU student, began an astrophotography project for the students at STAR school. They then brought in Barry Malpas, who teaches astronomy at CCC, to become involved in the evening observing sessions. The STAR school students presented their individual astronomy projects on February 11th, at Lowell Observatory. Several members of the Coconino Astronomical Society who were present were greatly impressed by the zeal at which the students approached their individual astronomy projects and presentations, as well as the astrophotography.

Mr. Malpas, a resident of Williams, and also on the board of the Coconino Astronomical Society, proposed to the CAS that they donate a new Orion 8-inch Newtonian telescope to the school for their astronomy program. However, Mr. Malpas realized that due to the large number of students, there would be long lines at a single telescope which would allow for little time to view more than one or two objects in an evening. He felt there should be several telescopes available for the classes. Mr. Malpas, along with CAS member Jim Phillips of Flagstaff, and the Dorritt Hoffleit Observatory, a private observatory north of Williams, each donated an additional telescope to the school making a class set of four instruments. The telescopes were procured through Kelsey Banister, of Lowell Observatory, which allowed the instruments to be acquired more affordably.

On May 3, 2016, the telescopes were assembled at STAR school by Mr. Malpas and Mr. Tomas. On May 5th, after an evening sports program which many of the students and families attended, the telescopes were set up outside to view the planet Jupiter and its four largest moons. Over 100 students and family stayed to observe. Several parents discussed different aspects of astronomy with the CAS members, including some of the comparisons of Diné constellations with those of the western ones. A couple of the students used their cell phone cameras to take photographs of Jupiter and its moons through the telescopes with excellent results. Over the two hours of observing, the pictures clearly showed the changes in the moons’ orbital motions around Jupiter. Mr. Thomas said that the telescope donations and the evenings’ event was memorable and greatly helped build momentum for the STAR School astronomy program, which was made evident by the enthusiasm of both the students and their families on Thursday evening.

The following photograph was taken at STAR School observing session on May 5 by Monica Harvey.

Bottom Row left to right: Mr. Thomas Tomas, and students Monroe Harvey, Aydan Tomas, and Alexandra Harvey

Top Row left to right: CAS member Jim Phillips, Anthony Harvey (student looking through telescope), Eleanor Monroe (grandmother of Alexandra, Monroe and Anthony), and CAS member Barry Malpas.

STAR SChool Astronomy
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