I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend the Elaine P Snowden Astronomy School during the first week of the holidays. The week was filled with exciting tours, lectures and activities. All the lectures were so fascinating and full of amazing topics of astronomy. We designed our own project focusing on sending a rocket into space, landing on a planet/moon and collecting material for testing.
Unfortunately, due to weather restrictions, we were unable to travel to St John’s Observatory as planned, where we would have stayed for two days observing the amazing night sky. Luckily NASA scientists were able to step in and share with us their experiences with SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) which was a big privilege. To hear someone share their unique field of expertise they are so passionate about, was amazing. We also had lots of fun playing around with the telescopes at Canterbury University.
On one of the days, we went to Castle Hill near the Southern Alps and learnt about all the fascinating rocks and meteorites. It was desolate with huge boulders and lots of snow (many snowball fights took place). On another day, we toured around the engineering building. We saw all the robotic work and even rockets that some of the university students made (which was entered into a competition in the US). We looked around the old University of Canterbury and even got to see the very room Ernest Rutherford worked in during his time there.
In between all of the lectures and tours we did a lot of other fun stuff. This included an escape room, a treasure hunt around the city and lots of fun in the games room. I built so many wonderful friendships with such amazing people. It was an incredible experience that I would definitely do again. All this would not be possible without Michael Snowden who generously funded this incredible opportunity. His main mission is to support young aspiring astronomers who share the same passion.
Lieselle Higgins, Year 13