Exploring the Cosmos Together: The Rise of the UW Astronomy Club

A group of passionate students at the University of Waterloo has come together to form the UW Astronomy Club. Operating under the umbrella of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, this stellar initiative aims to ignite an innate sense of curiosity and fascination for the captivating field of astronomy among students.

The UW Astronomy Club traces its roots back to a group of students who initially bonded over a shared interest in astrophotography. As the club expanded, these enthusiastic members took the initiative to breathe new life into the once-dissolved student astronomy club known as the UW Space Society. Back then, the executive team of the UW Space Society helped bring students to our Department’s observatory tours and host field trips for students interested in stargazing. Biweekly Astrofires were initiated, as well as debates and discussions regarding the latest news in astrophysics. Design competitions for model rocketry were held, and space parties were organized with professors, and public lectures were organized with guest speakers to talk about various aspects of astrophysics.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, it was no longer feasible to have large or even small gatherings of students for events. As a result, UW Space Society was unable to hold further events. In 2023, ZiLing Chenw ith a team of like-minded individuals to re-create a different version of the UW Space Society – this time housed under the Department of Physics & Astronomy so that there could be more opportunities to connect with faculty and intra-departmental entities such as the Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics and the Gustav Bakos Observatory. In Fall 2023, our entire Department welcomed the arrival of the new and rebranded UW Astronomy Club, which has become an inclusive haven that welcomes members from all corners of the university, transcending the boundaries of faculties.

At the heart of the UW Astronomy Club's mission lies a commitment to fostering both community building and educational outreach. Regular stargazing events grace the club's calendar, providing students and community members alike with the opportunity to marvel at the celestial wonders above. Collaborating with the local astronomy club from our community, the KW Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (KW-RASC), the UW Astronomy Club hosts events tailored for everyone, regardless of their scientific background.

One of the club's highlights is the collaboration with the KW-RASC on stargazing social nights. These events expand beyond the boundaries of astronomy, featuring interdisciplinary sessions such as a Halloween night with a philosophy professor explaining legends related to the night sky. The UW Astronomy Club's commitment to inclusivity is further showcased in events like the Lunar New Year full moon watching, organized in partnership with the UW Photography Club.


Astrophotography by: Abhishek Mishra

Looking ahead, the UW Astronomy Club is gearing up for an exciting adventure – a trip to witness the total solar eclipse in April. This ambitious endeavor is not just about observing a celestial phenomenon but also about instilling a sense of wonder and awe in the minds of students. The club aspires to continuously encourage everyone’s interest in astronomy, creating a tight-knit community of curious minds united by their shared passion for the mysteries of the universe.

The UW Astronomy Club hopes to showcase their journey through the lens of astrophotography. This visual element adds a personal touch to the club's narrative, allowing members to proudly display the results of their shared passion. The club's origins in astrophotography serve as a poignant reminder of how a common interest can spark the formation of a vibrant and inclusive community. Here are some examples of photos taken by our club members!


Astrophotography by: Michael Alexander

The rise of the UW Astronomy Club is a testament to the power of shared passions and collaborative efforts. Beyond the academic confines of the university, this club reaches for the stars, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds to explore the wonders of the cosmos. Do you have any photos you’d like to share with our Department and UW Astronomy Club? Please reach out to Patricia (printjema@uwaterloo.ca) at our alumni engagement team so that we can keep sharing photos of our interests to create a larger and more inclusive community of students and alumni!