Rising Star on Campus: The Astronomy Club


Mei Matsui ’23 for The Circle Voice

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered if you were looking at a star or a planet? The Astronomy Club can help you find out!  Every other week or so, on a clear night, heads Ian Bayliss ’22 and Theo Gillibrand ’22 and Co-heads Griffin Johnson ’22 and Josh Poulin ’22 bring eager students to the turf to marvel at the constellations visible to the naked eye or through binoculars.


Although Ian and Theo formed the club in their fifth form year, their fascination for astronomy started far before then. “My mother is an amateur astronomer, so growing up, I’ve been able to use my family’s telescope to observe nebulae and other deep sky objects,” Ian explained. Theo fostered his interest through space simulation games like Elite: Dangerous and Stellaris.


For their first meeting, the four took a look at some bright asterisms — patterns of stars — like the Big Dipper, Summer Triangle and Hercules Cluster. In the second meeting, with the help of Physics and Astronomy teacher Ms. Claire Hawkins, they used a small telescope to take a closer look at the beaming half moon and the glow of Saturn.


Almost 30 students attended the first two meetings. “I really enjoyed taking a small part of my night to gaze at the stars with some really cool people,” said Maya Gite ’22, who attended both meetings. “The passion for learning about what lies beyond our earth is what makes the club so special.”


Soon, they won’t just be using binoculars and small telescopes. The club has access to a variety of other equipment and tools, the biggest of which is a telescope with a 10-inch mirror. With this large lens, they will be able to see astronomical objects like the rings of Saturn, the dust clouds of Jupiter and the Andromeda Galaxy. This telescope also features a program that can automatically find and lock onto these deep sky objects.


The club plans on holding more events that are inclusive and accessible for the whole Groton School community. “Whether you want to learn about the cosmos, or just stargaze, the Astronomy Club has everything,” said Ian. “You don’t need to have any previous experience or expertise to attend!”


The next time that their busy schedules and the fickle weather allow for a breezy night time meeting, you can find Ian, Theo, Griffin and Josh stargazing on the turf with a giant telescope and unwavering enthusiasm.