Meet the stars and the moon through Manila Street Astronomers’ FREE telescope viewings

Shara Mae Balce
PUBLISHED November 4, 2018 09:06 pm
Art by Dani Elevazo

When was the last time you saw the stars? Or actually took a minute or two to appreciate (and have the occasional existential crisis by) the night skies? Probably when you were at the beach, the mountains or the province. Or from a desktop wallpaper.


Being in a highly urbanized area filled with the occasional smog, street lights, and towering buildings, it is often challenging to even just casually stargaze in Metro Manila.


But with Manila Street Astronomers, you don’t need to travel far to see the night skies clearly. We put the spotlight on the Manila Street Astronomers, a non-profit organization that is willing to share the sublime magnificence of the universe through free telescope viewings.


Meet the Street Astronomers


Manila Street Astronomers is a volunteer-based organization founded in 2013 by four amateur astronomers namely: Gary Andreassen, Norman Marigza, Christopher Louie Lu, and Eteny Urbano. The group is dedicated on educating, collaborating, and sharing the detailed perspective of the universe to the citizens of Manila.


The initiation of a non-profit astronomy outreach group was inspired by the strong passion of John Lowry Dobson on sidewalk astronomy—taking astronomy on the city streets for entertainment or educational purposes.



Manila Street Astronomers members (Photo from MSA/Facebook)


These group of astronomy-enthusiasts are connected by their common stance that is “the highest and purest form of amateur astronomy is public outreach.” With this, they offer their personal telescopes for public use (and for free!), bringing it to the streets of Manila or to any group who wishes to take their interest in astronomy to a whole new level.


What does MSA do?
sharing the sky’s beauty for free


With Manila Street Astronomers, everyone is welcome to meet the stars, the moon, and our galactic neighbors through MSA’s regular six monthly stargazing events. MSA is adherent to share the beauty of cosmos to passersby as it aims to reach different types of people to experience street astronomy. They set up telescopes in malls, schools, outings, communities, and literally on the metro sidewalks and let the public use their equipment on the cuff.


They also conduct lectures or play educational astronomy videos on-location to attract more people and spread awareness about astronomy.  



For Coleen Santos, one of its core members, the viewers’ priceless reactions, amusement, and bliss after seeing through their equipment is what keeps her going. “The amusement na you’d see in their eyes, the shock, the awe, the look na parang, ‘huh, totoo ba ‘tong nakikita ko sa telescope? We always hear jokes like ‘joke lang ata to, picture lang yan eh’ and all, and then they’re gonna check again and see kung ga’no surreal yung nakikita nila,” she said in an online interview with Inside Manila.


Be a volunteer!


MSA has five active core members and 20 volunteers dedicated to the team. Those who are not in based in Manila still conduct free telescope viewings in other parts of the country—in Cavite, Baguio, Zamboanga, and Davao. They are all connected by one purpose and that is to spread the good deeds of “sharing the sky’s beauty for free.”


If you want to be a part of MSA, they’re glad to inform you that membership is free! It only takes passion and commitmentno age limit, no complicated formsand voila, you’ll be a member for life! Simply approach the team during their events or send them a message on their social media pages.

MSA is also pretty flex when it comes to their volunteers. 
“We’ll announce kapag may event, kung sino lang ang makakapunta then go. Volunteers don’t need to maintain their attendance and participation as our membership is purely voluntary,” Santos pointed out.


As volunteers continue to abide the organization’s purpose, members of the MSA shares John Dobson’s catchphrase: “The true value of a telescope is how many people have viewed the heavens through it.”


It is a no ordinary experience to see the wonders of the night skies, especially when seen through a telescope. Aside from their equipment, MSA is the true instrument to make people experience, inspire, and learn more about the night sky on the streets of Metro Manila itself . 




See you at MSA’s Free Telescope Viewing events.Check their Facebook page or visit them at manilastreetastronomers.org to stay updated.

RELATED ARTICLE

METRO

39 Makati students bag international awards

(Inside Manila) Making the Philippines top the competition, 39 students from Makati City public schools reaped international awards during the 13th International Mathematics Contest in Singapore earlier this August.