FHC Astronomy Club is “out of this world”

FHC Astronomy Club is

The usual student going through FHC will learn about many branches of science, including biology, chemistry, physics, geology, environmental science, and more; however, one that has been unavailable for students is the science of astronomy. To compensate for this, juniors Frances Grishkina-Santangelo and Leyla Erhan have decided to found the brand new Astronomy Club.

“In my opinion, astronomy is interesting in general,” Frances said. “As the daughter of an astronomer, I’ve always been influenced by it. My dad creates satellites and I’ve been influenced by [astronomy] for my whole entire life.”

This lifelong involvement in astronomy led Frances to create the club, as she was surprised and disappointed that there was no way for students to really gain information about the topic during school. Along with Leyla, the duo talked with science teacher Joey Spadafore, and made the club a reality. Spadafore, who is fascinated with astronomy himself, happily agreed to be the adviser for the club.

“I think that everyone has an inherent interest in space and what’s out there,” Spadafore said. “It’s really humbling to think about, and while it may not be something that everyone thinks about everyday, [I think] it’s really important to look at our place in the universe.”

Through the club, Frances and Leyla hope to increase students’ knowledge of astronomy because it’s a science that is mostly ignored after a brief stint in middle school. Astronomy, defined as “the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole” is a science that is surely intriguing to many, but they may not pursue that interest due to the lack of class availability during high school. With the creation of this club, Frances and Leyla hope to raise attention to this plight and educate FHC students in this science.

“I think starting the club was a great idea because it gives kids the opportunity to see a different type of science than they’re used to seeing,” Spadafore said. “Astronomy is something we don’t usually offer, so it’s a great way to experience a new science.”

“Astronomy is something we don’t usually offer, so it’s a great way to experience a new science.””

— Joey Spadafore

The club plans on taking many trips, including those to observatories nearby. These trips would provide a more personal learning experience, and also offer up a fun trip that’s a bit out of the ordinary. With astronomy not being taught at FHC, this would be an opportunity for students to learn more about the cosmos. There are also plans to bring guest speakers into meetings, in order to both learn more about astronomy and get a view into what a career in the field might be like.

“I think the best way to learn a science is to experience it, and going on trips is very important for this reason,” Spadafore said.

Members of the club could volunteer at an observatory, yet another way to get more involved in astronomy and learn more about what goes on in an an observatory. The group also plans on raising money through bake sales and similar projects in order to raise money to go to a planetarium. Trips to international dark sky parks in the state are also a possibility, allowing for viewing of the stars far away from the light pollution of the city.

“I know that there’s a lot of interest [in the club] when it comes to traveling outside the city to places where you can stargaze more easily,” Spadafore said. “They’re also interested in more local trips to observatories, which is great.”

Frances hopes that the club could continue on in the future, and possibly even lead to the introduction of an astronomy class. She hopes to inspire others to pursue any interest in astronomy that they might have, and maybe even spark a new interest in some through the club.

“Astronomy is just really fun for everybody,” Frances said. “It’s really cool, and people would really love it.”