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New astronomy class observes successful first semester

Jones College’s new astronomy class began this spring semester with the help of Bharath Kandula, a physics and astronomy instructor at Jones.

Kandula first became interested in teaching astronomy while working as a teaching assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Now, he is happy to be able to teach others about this subject at Jones.

“When I first came to the U.S. in 2008 I was a masters student at USM, and I worked as a teaching assistant,” said Kandula. “I taught astronomy labs there, so, by teaching those labs, I got really interested in teaching and also astronomy.”

Kandula believes that everyone has some level of curiosity about what is happening in the sky, and the astronomy class helps to satisfy that curiosity.

“I think, as a child, all of us are interested to look at the sky and wonder ‘what is this all about,’ said Kandula. “We are curious, basically. We want to learn about the stars, planets, galaxies and everything… The course will fulfill your curiosity.”

The new astronomy class teaches students about topics such as the size of the universe, the enormous distances between the galaxies and planets, our solar system, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, Newton’s laws, the cause of the seasons, lunar eclipses, electromagnetic radiation, telescopes and stars.

Raelyn Lee, a student in the new astronomy class, said that the class teaches so many things, so most people could find something to enjoy.

“I would recommend this class to anyone who loves science, and it does help if you like a little math,” said Lee. “However astronomy is such a broad subject with science, math and some history, so many people could find something they like about it.”

One of the most interesting ways that Kandula’s astronomy students can learn is by using the telescope at Jones. The class also brings out the telescope for the public to use during big solar events like a solar eclipse.

“We have our own telescope here at Jones, and we have some sky observation sessions where we set up the telescope and look at different stars, planets, the moon, etcetera,” Kandula said.

Lee is very happy with her experience in the astronomy class, and she hopes that the class is around for a long time so others can enjoy it.

“I enjoy the fact that this is the first time this class is being taught at Jones, and it is going so well,” said Lee. “I hope this class continues so others can have the chance of learning about this intriguing topic with a good teacher.”

For students wanting to take Astronomy, it will now be offered in the fall semester, and Kandula encourages anyone interested to sign up for the course.

“This is an introductory couse, so it does not require any complex mathematics. Anybody interested in Astronomy can take this course and enjoy learning about planets, stars and galaxies,” Kandula said.

Jaylynn Conner

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