A family of four waited inside of the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences building to stay warm. Two sisters, one with a NASA helmet and shiny space gloves, ran around, excited to stargaze at Public Telescope Night.
The Bloomfield family—mother Angie Koeneker, 38, father Josh Trojak, 37, daughter Hannah Trojak, 4, and daughter Tala Trojak, 23 months—comes to this event almost every week, mainly for Hannah because she loves space, Koeneker said.
“We came here a year and a half ago for the first time, and it really sparked an interest for her in learning more about space, and since then—we are all space, all of the time at home,” said Koeneker.
Public Telescope Night is available on campus in the Science Quad every clear Thursday night (minus spring break) from 8 to 9 p.m. The weekly event, held from January 19 to April 27, is brought to the public by the North Jersey Astronomical Group (NJAG).On warmer nights, around ten people come to stargaze and about five telescopes are used, according to NJAG volunteer and recent Montclair State alumnus Kevin Miller. Depending on the date and weather conditions, the moon, stars, constellations, planets, galaxies and more can be viewed. On this night, clusters such as Pleiades, a cluster that gives off blue light, were visible from the telescopes.
NJAG’s telescope nights on campus allow Hannah to see sights from nebulas to stars, an opportunity which sparked Hannah’s interest in science, her mother said.
“As a matter of fact, her class is now doing a space exploration at school because she is so interested and comes in and tells them about telescope nights every Thursday,” said Koeneker.
“I think what we have come to appreciate is that they make an effort to incorporate younger children into the event,” Koeneker continued. “It really has been such an educational opportunity for our four-year-old. I think between our space pursuit at home and their encouragement, we have a four-year-old that’s really interested in science and space and that’s what we want. It’s been a great experience and she absolutely loves it. They now know her because she shows up in her NASA attire every week.”
Hannah said her plan is to be the first girl to go to Jupiter.