Talkin’ stars in bars

By Mathew Sotlar / The Jambar

Youngstown State University’s Society of Physics Students held its first Astronomy On Tap event Feb. 23 at Republic Pizza. The event was free and open to the public.

Astronomy on Tap is an event hosted worldwide that allows communities to learn from presentations by professional astronomers. It is often held at restaurants or bars to promote research and provide a meeting place for like-minded individuals. 

YSU’s Astronomy On Tap was coordinated by SPS President Alexa Beyer and Vice President Amanda Keating. Keating, who is a senior physics and astronomy major, said SPS wanted to bring the event to YSU. 

“Astronomy On Tap is something that has been going the entire country with different astronomy departments, and Alexa went down to New Orleans for the American Astronomical Society meeting this past January,” Keating said. “She really enjoyed it, and she wanted to make sure we could do one of our own here.”

The Society of Physics Students is a national university-based organization that helps students interested in physics connect. YSU’s chapter has around 40 members. Beyer said Astronomy On Tap allows not only students to learn more about space, but also the YSU community. 

“Not a lot of people are exposed to formal talks, and they don’t really know where to find them, except online. But it’s a really easy opportunity for students and community members to all gather in one place to talk about space and what research is currently happening,” Beyer said.

Both Keating and Beyer gave presentations at the event. Keating’s presentation focused on exoplanets, while Beyer’s discussed the evolution of stars. In between each presentation was a round of physics and astronomy-themed trivia.

YSU astronomy professor Patrick Durrell gave the final presentation on star collisions. Each presenter answered questions from the audience.

A final round of Star Wars-themed trivia was held before the event concluded. SPS also sold stickers and eclipse glasses for the upcoming April 8 eclipse.

Beyer said she hopes to see SPS holding more events before the end of the semester, including another Astronomy On Tap.

“As of right now, I’m hoping to do one more [Astronomy On Tap] before the semester ends and I graduate. So, we’re hoping to do one more in April or early May around graduation time just so when I leave, the next SPS members can build off of that,” Beyer said.

Beyer said SPF aims to bring students interested in astronomy and physics together, regardless of students’ majors. 

“We just try and combine all the students that are either physics or physics and astronomy majors or just people who really like physics or like to talk about space, and we try and get some different events to get students to interact with each other,” Beyer said.

There is no set meeting times for SPS. Keating said the organization works around members’ schedules. 

“We don’t have specific meeting times,” Keating said. “Usually, if we do meet, it’ll be Fridays at 4 p.m. in the [Ward Beecher] Planetarium, but whenever we do meet it’s kind of whenever we have the time, because our classes get pretty piled up, so we try to make it work with everyone’s schedule.”

SPS will host an eclipse viewing event April 8 at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Interested members can reach out to Beyer via email at [email protected].

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