Associate Professor Matthew Lopper ’98 organized virtual sky tours for current and prospective students, faculty and staff, and alumni throughout the spring and summer of 2020.
This spring, Matthew Lopper ’98, associate professor of chemistry, discovered something was missing. The usually chatty students in his upper-level courses appeared instead quiet and distant when classes went to Zoom. “I need to give them something different to think about,” he decided. “I’ll send out an invitation and see who is as bored as I am on this Friday night.”
He set up his telescope, replaced the eyepiece with a webcam, and messaged his students to join in online. “One, then another, then another started showing up, and we spent a couple of hours on my driveway looking at Venus and pictures of planets I’ve taken over the years,” Lopper said.
His students opened up, interacted and had fun. Lopper considered it a success. The students, though, considered it only a beginning. They recruited members and formed DARC, the Dayton Astronomy Research Club. Matthew Bugada, senior biochemistry major and DARC president, remembers how intensely Venus shone that night. “It gave all of us a chance to reflect on something distant and far away, and we could all look up at it with awe.”