On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, if the weather is good, Omar A. Gonzalez, instructor/lab technician at Texas A&M International University, painstakingly sets up the University's high power telescope on the darkest part of campus. The meticulous work is both a labor of love and part of Gonzalez' teaching duties at A&M International.
"The Tuesday and Thursday evening viewings are a course requirement for students enrolled in my Stellar Astronomy class. But it's also an opportunity for anyone who has a love for astronomy to get a fascinating look at stellar bodies," noted Gonzalez.
He explained that at the conclusion of each Astronomy lab, about 8:30 p.m., the telescope is made available to community members who wish to get a great view of the night sky.
"This semester, we'll look at a variety of stellar bodies including Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn, Venus, and Mars which in the coming months, will be the closest to the earth this decade," said Gonzalez.
The viewing time also affords community members an opportunity to talk with University students who are conducting research in the field of astronomy and to learn about the best Internet sites available for astronomy buffs.
"We're also in the process of setting up a camera adaptor for the telescope which means persons who bring their camera and film to the viewings can take photographs through the telescope," he observed.
Anyone in the community who is interested in participating the stellar viewings at the University should call Gonzalez at 326-2600 before heading to campus as weather conditions sometimes hamper viewing and cause cancellation.
For additional information, contact Gonzalez directly or call the University's Department of Natural Sciences at 326-2445. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.