Students who are a part of the Trailgazers Astronomy Club are over the moon about looking at the night sky and learning more about our universe.
Students who are a part of the Trailgazers Astronomy Club at Utah Tech University are immersed in the universe. They find locations all over southern Utah to look at the stars, planets, black holes and more.
Club members have the chance to take pictures of anomalies in the sky and see the changes that occur every week. Some of the students who have been involved in this club in the past have had the passion to go on to study the universe as a career.
For looking at constellations and planets, the club meets at the Pioneer Rim parking lot. If those in the club want to try to see galaxies, they go to places that are very dark like the Joshua Trees National Park.
There is a terrace at the Science, Engineering, and Technology Building on campus where astronomers can set up their telescopes and gaze at the stars on clear nights throughout the year. The telescopes that the club has access to are the Celestron NexStar SE telescopes and EvScope telescopes. They also use strong lasers to point out stars.
Brie Freeman, a junior mathematics major from Ontario, California, said for their stargazing activities, they look for things like constellations, planets, stars and galaxies with both their eyes and with a telescope. The club also meets for educational purposes, and those meetings have deep conversations as well as food.
Shellsea Ramirez, a junior individualized studies major from St. George, said, “Being able to use equipment that I otherwise would never have access to, such as telescopes and astrophotography tools, with the guidance of more experienced mentors has been one of the most memorable opportunities.”
This club has scholarship opportunities for its participants. These students can attend parties hosted at elementary and intermediate schools. Some of these parties are paid. Those who help run the telescopes at the indoor activities receive a small scholarship.
Ramirez said ever since she was young, she has had an interest in the night sky, and even with the pollution in northern Utah increasing, she still wanted to learn more. She said this club has been able to give her the opportunity to not only get involved on campus but to reach deeper into her passion with others who love it just as much as she does.
This club has opportunities for everyone, not just those who have an interest in space. Those part of the club including Allen, Ramirez and Freeman would like students on campus to know that everyone is welcome.
Trailgazers want to be able to give students opportunities that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Club mentor Bailee Allen, a visiting instructor of the practice in design, said: “It [the club] helped me find joy after a time when I truly didn’t think I would feel it ever again and has filled me with so much hope, belonging and fulfillment. I will never, ever forget this club for as long as I live.”