AstroNite Brings a Night of Science to the Campus Community

Bella Biafore, Writer

AstroNite, centered around multiple stations related to astronomy, engineering and physics, usually targeted to students grades K-12, is working toward bringing community members and UM-Flint students together for a night of learning and fun. 

The event, happening on October 25 from 7-10 p.m., will be spread around campus, including within the Mill Street parking garage, the Murchie Science Building and the third floor of the Harding Mott University Center. 

The activities presented at the event are designed to give those attending a hands-on experience to learn about the science behind many of the phenomena observable in the night sky. 

So, if using knowledge of thermodynamics to create a collapsing supernova intrigues you, or building and testing contraptions meant to signify a Mars landing, then AstroNite is likely to have a station that’ll pique your interest.

And, if the sky is clear the night of the event, the Astronomy Club will be setting up telescopes in the Mill Street parking garage for attendees to use. 

“The night sky is something people can be curious about. These experiments are designed to approach the actual science behind those things,” said Professor James Alsup. “It’s open to just let people ask us questions about what they’ve seen and what makes them curious.” 

A family-style open-house, the first AstroNite took place in 2011 partly in honor of humanity’s first observed full orbit of Neptune, as well as International Astronomy Day. 

In an email, Professor Rajib Ganguly, the current event organizer, said, “At our peak, we regularly filled Longway’s [planetarium] 200 plus seat theater. In more recent years we had been seeing dwindling numbers. So, after a brief hiatus, we decided we wanted to offer a smaller version of AstroNite.”

Aware of the current trends in STEM, AstroNite is aiming to help broaden the horizon for young female attendants via volunteers, focused on showing these young girls that women belong in the field. 

“We get plenty of female volunteers who know what they’re doing and that can be exceptionally inspirational to the girls that are there who are basically used to seeing guys in that sort of position,” said Gavin Trevorrow, a physics major and event volunteer. 

“I think the physics program has done well in the past several years sort of trying to promote females in the major. We’ve actually been lucky enough to have a large percentage of our majors be females than the national average,” Alsup added.

Made for all ages and free of charge, AstroNite is truly open to all. If you have any questions regarding the event or activities taking place, contact Professor Rajib Ganguly via email.