Year Nine students Beni Rae and Eli Sheppard are the brains behind the operation that is Nayland College’s astronomy club.
The pair met in a textiles class earlier in the year and discovered that they had a common interest in astronomy and science and considered setting up a club. After discussing their plans with a few teachers, Beni and Eli started up the club in term one, just a week or two after their initial conversation.
So what is astronomy for those who don’t know? “It’s the study of the stars and everything that happens above us, how we observe it and what we can see with telescopes. Basically it’s looking at the sky and thinking about what’s really going on up there,” says Beni.
The club runs every Thursday lunchtime in Lab 1A. Often the boys have planned and prepared lessons and talks to give to the club, which consists of around twelve students.
Beni usually organises the club’s excursions and meetings whereas Eli primarily plans the lessons and helps in other ways.
The club activities are not confined to school, however. Two weeks ago the club attended a public viewing night at the Cawthron Observatory situated in the grounds of Clifton Terrace School, where they were able to set up the club’s telescope and observe the planets and clusters of stars.
The club were also excited to welcome Dennis Goodman to their meeting on Thursday 23rd August as a special guest from the Cawthron Observatory, to talk about his role there and what he does.
Beni and Eli plan to continue the astronomy club for as long as there is interest, as they enjoy running it and know others enjoy it too. If it is still running when they are in Year 13, they want to pass it on to younger students to pick up where they leave off.
By student reporter Aleisha Smith