Reaching for the stars: Moncton High School gets new observatory

WATCH ABOVE: Initiated by a teacher’s love of astronomy, a Moncton high school had an observatory built. Global’s Shelley Steeves has that story.

Moncton High School science teacher James Mosher wants his students to reach for the stars — literally.

So he took it upon himself to pilot a project that’s truly out of this world — building the school its very own observatory.

“We are located outside the city centre, so as a result we have limited light pollution and that is absolutely necessary for an observatory,” Mosher said.

Mosher took the project under his wing three years ago, and the finished product is now sitting in the field behind the school — encouraging students to be “looking up instead of looking down all the time.”

Mosher hopes this opportunity for a hands-on approach to studying astronomy will inspire a love of science among his students.

“It’s one of those things where they can actually come out and look through the eye piece of the telescope and we always get that ‘wow!'” he said.

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Students Massimo Platteau and Logan Mallory
Students Massimo Platteau and Logan Mallory Shelley Steeves/Global News

Logan Mallory and exchange student Massimo Platteau are part of the school’s new astronomy club, and say the new observatory is widening the horizons of their interests and learning.

“I have never thought of astronomy before I came here,” Platteau said.

“It’s something different, it’s something I can’t do in Belgium, my own country.”

A deer sky image captured by Moncton High students.
A deer sky image captured by Moncton High students. Moncton High School Astronomy Club

“It’s pretty cool actually — I actually love it,” Mallory said.

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“I find that it is telling us a story, like a little dot in the sky that could be the aftermath, and that star could have gone supernova or something.”

The deep sky objects they’ve already managed to capture are indeed awe inspiring.

“It’s not boring like some people think it is, cause the moment you look through the telescope nobody will ever say ‘I have seen this before,'” Platteau said.

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“It’s amazing to see all the detail in the moon and all the things you can’t see with the naked eye.”

Mosher says he’s hoping to create an astronomy course at the school so students can get even more exposure to studying the stars, which he says would be a first in the province opening a galaxy of possibilities for his students.

He also hopes to start a summer astronomy to be held at the observatory.