As students gathered around the telescope in the Gelb Observatory on Tuesday night, Michael Berube ’11 recounted information regarding various star constellations, gesturing towards the celestial bodies in the open sky.
Berube pointed out distinctive features of the planets, stars, and nebulas as students took turns viewing them through the telescope’s eyepiece. Moving the telescope as necessary, he gave several examples of the universe’s celestial wonders.
Berube serves as a proctor and tour guide during the weekly open houses at the Gelb Observatory. His responsibilities include taking care of the telescope during his work duty periods and running open houses, which take place on Tuesdays from 8 to 9 pm.
During the Observatory open house, students were able to survey various star clusters and view Jupiter. While the group observed two orbiting stars, also known as a binary star cluster, Berube explained interesting facts to students.
The Gelb Observatory features state of the art equipment including a large reflector telescope and several smaller telescopes in lower-magnification and solar models. There is also a computer system that controls the movement of the telescopes.
The technologically advanced roof is one of the Observatory’s major features. Whenever a coordinate for a specific point in the sky is entered into the computer program, the roof of the Observatory can rotate its viewing position. It also rotates as stars move through the sky.
During the first open house, Berube said, “The color of a star determines its temperature. Blue stars are hotter and red stars are colder.”
When students and faculty children questioned the nature of stars, he explained to them the important details of constellation observation, completing the observatory experience for the guests.
Berube said he became a proctor because the Gelb Observatory is very advanced for a secondary school and has many different types of resources available. The Observatory prompted him to attend Andover during the application process.
Berube said his favorite aspect of astronomy is discovering unidentifiable objects in the sky. This type of exploration is one of the reasons that Berube enjoys working in the Observatory.
He said, “[It excites me] when I click on something [on the computer screen] and look at it.”
According to Berube, the Observatory will work on a new term-contained astronomy course offered to Uppers and Seniors which will feature hands-on use of the telescope.
He is currently working on developing this course with the Physics Department. This new course will supplement the existing course in astronomy.
Berube became the observatory proctor for his work duty in Lower year and has worked there since. He also learned the features of the observatory from Caroline Odden, Instructor of Physics and Supervisor of the Observatory.
Berube reports back any problems that he finds while using the Observatory’s equipment.