Athenian Star Party

Last week, Athenian had it’s first Star Party. While it was the same week as the Emmy’s, the Star Party’s intent was not to revel in the comedic brilliance of Jon Stewart or the psychological realism Claire Danes brings to the screen. Athenian’s first Star Party was in honor of our skies, celebrating the moon, Saturn, the Trifid Nebula, and an earthgrazer, among other interstellar celebrities.

Those in attendance could see great views of our closest celestial neighbor (the Moon), two planets in our solar system (Mars and Saturn), a few stars in our local galaxy (Arcturus – an orange giant; Mizar and Alcor, two nice binaries close to each other in the Big Dipper), a stellar nursery (the Trifid Nebula), and our closest galactic neighbor (the Andromeda galaxy). For those lucky ones looking east at the time, we also spotted an earthgrazer (a long, bright shooting star with a long tail) from the Piscids!

Since it was a school night, the party wrapped up a little bit earlier than planned. Unfortunately, that meant that the few families that came to school around 9pm didn’t get a chance to participate. Our apologies! But don’t worry: we will plan our next event for a Friday night to make sure everyone can stay longer. We have already started planning the next Athenian Star Party, this time to watch the winter sky, full of beautiful nebulae, multi-colored binaries, Jupiter and its moons, etc. Stay tuned!

Thank you to Vip Gupta and Tyler Huntington for driving this effort; without their passion and initiative this event wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you also to the families and star experts who lent both their telescopes (we had 7!) and their knowledge to the event, including the Danylyszyns and Thompsons.


U.N.C.E.N.S.O.R.E.D. is an all-school meeting that invites the community to share ideas and discuss issues, typically outside of the realm of Athenian.  This morning, a student brought up the topic of the recent Innocence of Muslims video released on YouTube on 9-11.  Having discussed it in a seminar, the student wanted to hear what the community thought about the video.  Should it be censored?  How does freedom of speech play a role in the conflict?  Why was there such a strong response across the globe?

Some of the issues brought up and discussed include:

  • Is freedom of speech a good or bad thing?
  • Do we really have the right to say anything we want?
  • What does it mean to hate?  Why do people hate?
  • What justifies killing?
  • With freedom comes great responsibility
  • There is no personal accountability in the age of digital anonymity

Feel free to comment below with your own questions, thoughts, or natterings.