Activities

Stargazing nights

Approximately two evenings a month, we set up the society’s 16-inch and 8-inch telescopes at a dark location near campus (we have used Lake Lagunita, the Student Observatory, and the Mausoleum in the past).  On stargazing nights, both SAS members and non-members learn about the night sky and enjoy views of stars, star clusters, nebulae, planets and the moon through the society’s telescopes.  We usually convene shortly after sunset and continue until ~11pm or later.  Check the calendar for dates, times, and locations.

Outreach

We schedule 1-2 events every quarter for the broader Stanford community.  As astronomers, our members enjoy sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm about the nighttime skies with others.  In the past, we have hosted bi-monthly public stargazing nights at Lake Lagunita, using our equipment to set up “viewing stations” for various celestial objects and providing warm refreshments for all participants.  These events give participants a view of popular astronomical objects like the Moon and planets (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.), as well as fainter objects such as nebulae and globular clusters.

Additionally, the club regularly volunteers for outreach events hosted by other organizations. Members recently set up (1) a basic nighttime observation station for Escondido Elementary School’s “Family Science Night” and (2) a solar observation booth for Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC)’s 11th Anniversary

Solar observation

We hold solar observation sessions as a supplement to our usual night time observing activities. We always emphasize safety in observing the sun and as such we use a wide variety of filters fitted to telescopes, projection facilities, dedicated H-alpha solar telescopes and spectrographs to study the sun in its richness. Our solar observation sessions are always a great chance to see sunspots, faculae, granulation, prominences and flares and other important structures on our nearest star first hand. We also organize special observing sessions for solar eclipses and transits whenever such events are visible in the region.

Workshops and conferences

Our members and friends are always glad to share their knowledge with the Stanford community. We organize talks on topics in astrophysics research in collaboration with the Physics Department and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) as well as outdoors hands-on workshops on astrophotography, variable star astronomy, ethnoastronomy and star hopping.

Trips to dark sky sites

Once every quarter we plan for an outing to a darker site which has less light pollution than our regular stargazing location at Lake Lagunita. We organized stargazing and astrophotography trips to Henry Coe State Park, impromptu outings to San Antonio reservoir for meteor showers, and we explored more dark sites nearby and far beyond the Sierras to observe deep sky objects. Most of these trips are daily roundtrips and do not require backpacking experience.