ONE STAR. Two star. Upon counting the countless stars in the sky, many of us have probably wondered what lies beyond the tiny specks of light we see. Some sort of galaxy or stars? Although they may be billions of light years away, the road to astronomy is not as far as one would expect. Right here i there are services and activities that help Yonseians get more familiar with the universe.
Astronomy open for everyone: Yonsei Amateur Astronomical Association
Established in 1985, the Yonsei Amateur Astronomical Association (YAAA) is a students’ club dedicated to studying and sharing knowledge about astronomy. However, as its name implies, YAAA does not aim to study professional astronomy. Therefore, it is open for all Yonseians who, as amateurs, are interested in observing the night skies and study astronomy.
Then, what does YAAA actually do? Yoo Byung-ho (President, YAAA) has stated, “YAAA’s activities are largely divided into regular and annual activities. As part of the regular activities, we hold astronomy seminars every week.” He added that during the seminar, the club members can learn how to assemble the telescopes, take celestial pictures, and recognize basic constellations. After the seminars, YAAA observe the night skies. They usually go to places far from Seoul where the light pollution is less severe, and observe clusters of stars or nebula through telescopes while taking celestial pictures.
Furthermore, the club holds public observations as its annual activity, which is usually held in November. Through the public observations, all Yonseians can see the celestial pictures that the club members have taken during the past year, and on the last day of the festival, students can see the moon or other major planets through the telescopes installed in campus on their own. This year, the public observations are going to be held from Nov. 5th to 7th in Yonsei-Samsung Library. Yoo added, “We are ‘one of the few people who pursue romance in a desolate, tough world.’ Although it may sound cheesy, it is definitely romantic and memorable to look up at the small glinting stars in the night sky with your friends. If you want to feel that romance, you should join us.”
“Wouldyoulike” to know about the universe?
Ever since its establishment in 2011, Wouldyoulike, as a non-profit student organization, has dedicated itself to the popularization of the astronomy. The name “Wouldyoulike” is a word game. The pronunciation of the name’s front part “Wouldyou” means universe in Korean. Thus, Wouldyoulike is recommending you to like the world of astronomy, while simultaneously asking whether “Would you like” to join the organization. As of now, Wouldyoulike holds four main activities: publication of astronomy magazines, sharing of astronomy information through SNS including Facebook, international cooperation with other astronomy related institutions, and offline festivals.
To start with, from writing articles to designing layouts, the magazine “Wouldyoulike” is produced by the members of Wouldyoulike, and aims to provide information about astronomy as the only pure science magazine in Yonsei University. The magazine is issued about three to four times a year, and currently is in the middle of publishing the seventh issue. About 200 copies are distributed not only in Yonsei University, but also Hongik, Seogang, Ewha Womans’ University and several other universities in Seoul. Furthermore, Wouldyoulike accepts subscription applies, through which the applicants can receive the magazine for free of charge. Wouldyoulike currently interacts with about 17,000 fans through its Facebook page. It provides celestial pictures and information about the moon, shooting stars and such on Facebook page. Other major activities using the Facebook include production of contents like “This week’s astronomy,” which both provide professional knowledge and latest news in the astronomy academia in relatively easier form for the convenience of public. Another activity that Wouldyoulike was proud of was its international cooperation with NASA. Ki Woong-bae (Creative Director, Wouldyoulike) stated, “We have recently made an official agreement with Astronomy Picture of Day (APOD), a project conducted through which the NASA provides beautiful celestial pictures with explanations. Through this contract, we will provide official Korean translations of APOD, which is available in our website.” Besides these activities, Wouldyoulike seeks to reach out to ordinary people by holding various guerilla events. Last year, members of Wouldyoulike went out on the streets in astronaut costumes, so that people could take pictures with them and raise awareness on the field of astronomy.
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WouldYouLike
Seeing the stars with your very own eyes in Yonsei
Besides the two activities above, if you are looking for a venue to look at the heavens above, Yonsei offers another way to get closer to the stars. The Yonsei observatory, located in Sam-ae campus in Ilsan was built in 1979, and has a 61cm radius telescope, which is the biggest in Korea. The Yonsei observatory conducts regular field trips that are held every month for free. Anyone, regardless of whether he/she is a Yonseian, can sign up for the field trip. The field trip is composed of two parts: 1 hour lecture and 1 hour of observation. The lecture is provided by Yonseians of the Dept. of Astronomy, and the themes of the lectures for November are: the solar system (focused on planets), stars, and modern astronomy. After the lecture, people can observe the skies through the telescope for about an hour.
The maximum number for each field trip is 35, and all the requests are taken by order of arrival through the homepage of Yonsei observatory. The sign-ups for all the field trips in the following semester are notified simultaneously. Usually the notices indicating the time for sign-ups appear during the vacation, before the start of the semester. Those interested in this must regularly check the Yonsei observatory homepage frequently in order to make it to the top 35. Why don’t you sign up during the winter vacation and participate in the field trip next semester?
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One star for love. One star for memories. Yoon Dong-joo, a Yonsei graduate and national poet, wrote thus in a poem called “Counting the stars,” in which he recollected people and things that were special to him. Yet, living in such a fast paced world, most of us have forgotten to look above and think like Yoon Dong-joo did once. By learning about the universe through YAAA seminars, reading articles by Wouldyoulike, and seeing the stars through the observatory, we will be able to pause from the fast lives that we lead and reminiscence, and admire the stars as Yoon Dong-joo did years ago.