Reaching for the stars

Neil by the largest telescope in Finland: 1,03m reflector

Story: Eeva-Kaisa AhlamoThe Interactive Media Programme students have many projects. Some of the them big, some of them small. During their second year, many students will work in a project that will give them 30 study credits, that is equivalent to 800 hours of work.

Two IMP students, Eeva-Kaisa Ahlamo (that’s me) and Neil Hopkins, have started their project slightly in advance. We are going to produce an annual amateur astronomy event called “Tähtipäivät” in Turku next March.

I have been an amateur astronomer all my life, nowadays it’s more like a lifestyle than a hobby. (After all, few years ago I moved to New Zealand for some time just to see the Southern night sky!) Neil has always been extremely keen on reading and learning about stars and space and loves to read scifi while dreaming of worlds yet to be discovered. We are taking part in the project as part of our studies, but there are more people involved in Turku, as well.

Yesterday, we made a field trip to Turku to go through all the event places we are going to use during this event. I’ve been active member in the local astronomy club in Turku for more than 15 years and I wanted to show Neil what the place is about. The reason why we wanted to get the event in Turku next year is that it’s going to be 120 years since the birth of the founder of Turun Ursa and the most famous astronomer in Finland, Prof. Yrjö Väisälä. We want to commemorate his amazing achievements by creating an event where astronomy is presented in intriguing and entertaining way.

That’s why we went to visit Tuorla, one of the most famous professional observatories in Finland. Tuorla is also involved in the project and we were planning the things we want to do. Our contact there showed us around and explained about the history and practice of the place. We were blown away by everything we saw and had great time for the hours we stayed there.

We continued further to see two other observatories, Kevola and Iso-Heikkilä, which are both used by Turun Ursa. We also went to see the venue place itself, we have decided to held the event in Turku University main campus.
Tuorla is not only an observatory, it also produces telescope mirrors.
Our contact Rami explaining, how they were the only mirror provider in the
world who were able to make the mirror to the space telescope Herschel.

We kept ourselves quite busy, but had some great new ideas that we want to try and explore further. We want to show people that astronomy is not only physics and mathematics, but also aesthetic and mind-blowing experience (without forgetting the interactivity). I’m sure we are capable of creating an event worth membering.