Campus Conversation: Ryan Waldman

"For the last two years I have volunteered as a public outreach assistant at the Melton Observatory. It involves helping with setup, operation and takedown of the telescopes, as well as interacting with visitors to point out and describe celestial objects, discuss astronomical history and answer any questions visitors might have about the sky or the observatory itself. The best part of Melton public nights is seeing visitors arrive with no expectations of what they will see and be completely amazed by the experience of seeing celestial objects firsthand. I think the most memorable thing I have seen was Jupiter through the telescope on an exceptionally clear, steady night, looking like a perfect swirled marble on a pitch black background, with its tiny moons close by on either side. The night sky is a natural wonder we tend to forget is all around us, and Melton provides a great chance to start exploring it. Even in the middle of a city there are all kinds of planets, constellations, meteors, and other objects that can be seen with the naked eye or regular binoculars. A quick introduction can lead to many, many more observations. I have been involved in astronomy outreach for several years, and Melton has one of the most successful outreach programs I have seen, and I am honored to be able to participate. "

—  Ryan Waldman, graduate student in the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment

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