Astronomy Club x The Pariah: Creating a Space for Connections Between Astronomy and Writing

Participants could gaze up at the stars while engaging their imagination and exploring science fiction writing at the cross-discipline Pariah x Astronomy Club event.

In the dimly lit observatory, students gathered around the large telescope at the corner of the room, taking turns stepping up to the lens and peering up at planets and stars while others sat and wrote sci-fi themed creative prompts. The Pariah, Andover’s creative writing magazine, organized a collaboration with the Astronomy Club last Saturday in the Gelb Science Center. 

An event planned since the year’s first club rally, Pariah x Astronomy served as the writing magazine’s first official crossover. Claire Cahill ’22, an organizer of the meeting and a board member of Pariah, explained that the event’s purpose was to help increase engagement and appeal to the interests of a broader audience. 

“Both [The Pariah Co-Head Esme Young ’23] and I were hoping that we could just create a chill space for people that were interested in either looking in the observatory, writing or both… the hope was that we could introduce two very separate subjects to people as things that are related,” said Cahill.

To create this connection between writing and astronomy, the meeting featured short, 15 minute long sci-fi themed writing prompts from The Pariah while attendees looked at Jupiter, Saturn, and a star cluster through the telescope. Young, another organizer of the event, expressed her hope that attendees would be able to feel comfortable exploring subjects and academic areas that they may not have specifically studied or tried out before. 

“I personally would like more creative spaces on campus that are less scary. I want to make sure that everybody is excited to come and not worried about the outcome of their writing […] It’s [also] a really good opportunity to learn more content for sci-fi writing. I also hope that some people will experiment with [their] writing because I know that there are probably not many students who are involved in my club who actually write sci- fi,” said Young.  

Sarah Barton ’24, an attendee who originally participated more heavily in Astronomy club, explained how the sci-fi themed prompts helped her experiment with writing descriptions, designing characters, and world building. According to Barton, the causal structure of the event allowed her to write without fear of judgement. 

 “I haven’t written outside of English class in a while and it was fun to get back into it since, when I write for fun I usually write sci-fi fantasy… I explored [writing] descriptions because I usually write longer [pieces], so I mix in the description as I go along. Here, I wrote paragraphs for each character [from my writing prompt and] did a different type of description,” said Barton. 

Additionally, the club’s integration of subjects gave participants a fun opportunity to explore both in a casual space. Grace Hu ’24, who experienced her first meeting of both clubs over the weekend, commented that the intersectionality between the two groups allowed her to more holistically appreciate the writing and science resources without being tied down to academics.

“The observatory’s really interesting to look at… It was my first time up there and the images were really clear which was really interesting… I got to look at some of the stars and figure out their location and how light travels,” said Hu.