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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, December 9, 2023
HomeNewsLocal newsNot for Profit: New Organization Reaches for the STARS

Not for Profit: New Organization Reaches for the STARS

<p><img width=”251″ vspace=”4″ border=”1″ hspace=”8″ height=”188″ align=”right” src=”/files/userfiles/image/00%202016%20NEWS%20PHOTOS/06%20June/Tycho%20crater%20on%20the%20moon.jpg” alt=”The Tycho Crater on the moon. (Photo by Andy Watt)” title=”The Tycho Crater on the moon. (Photo by Andy Watt)” />Need a little perspective in your life? Try looking up.</p>
<p>That&rsquo;s where Andy Watts gets his inspiration. By day he spends his time as a carpenter and cabinetmaker and business man. At night, he&rsquo;s searching the skies for stellar nurseries, star clusters, planetary nebula, and hints of galaxies far, far away.</p>
<p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not an academic by any means,&rdquo; Watts said. But a few years ago he was introduced by television and other popular media to the world of astronomy. He was dazzled. The more he learned, the more he wanted to learn and the more he studied.</p>
<p>&ldquo;There is more to life than just what I do day in and day out,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There is a way bigger conversation that is going on.&rdquo;</p>
<p>He&rsquo;s found he loves star-gazing; &ldquo;It goes to the core of my being.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Besides, it&rsquo;s fun.</p>
<p><img width=”240″ vspace=”4″ border=”1″ hspace=”8″ height=”205″ align=”left” src=”/files/userfiles/image/00%202016%20NEWS%20PHOTOS/06%20June/Andy%20Watts.jpg” alt=”Andy Watts with his 20-inch telescope, with which he took the above photo of the moon and the photo, below, of Saturn. (Photo by Bonnie Watts.)” title=”Andy Watts with his 20-inch telescope, with which he took the above photo of the moon and the photo, below, of Saturn. (Photo by Bonnie Watts.)” />Watts said he and his wife Bonnie purchased their first telescope in 2011 so they could explore the night sky. It was an eight-inch model. Since then they&rsquo;ve acquired a 12-inch, a 16-inch and a 20-inch, plus a small telescope designed for day viewing; he uses it for catching sun spots and granulations on the sun.</p>
<p>He also became a volunteer at the Etelman Observatory of the University of the Virgin Islands. Located at the highest point in Bonne Resolution on St. Thomas, at 1,380 feet, the observatory houses the only robotically controlled research-level telescope in the Caribbean and it serves as an astrophysics and geophysics research station.</p>
<p>There, Watts learned from David Morris, a UVI professor of physics and astronomy and the director of the observatory. The two men share a love of the cosmos and a passion for introducing others to its mysteries and its joys. Morris regularly hosts public viewing nights at Etelman and has introduced hundreds of V.I. residents to a close-up view of the night sky.</p>
<p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t really think of anyone who, if they look through a telescope at a planet, doesn&rsquo;t enjoy the experience,&rdquo; Morris said. But there a lot of different levels of involvement. They range from simple fascination with the beauty of the light displays to beginning to learn how the pieces fit together and finally being able to apply that knowledge as it relates to our own planet.</p>
<p>&ldquo;Like the ancient Egyptians, we&rsquo;re just looking up trying to figure out what all those things are,&rdquo; Morris said. But we have much better tools now and can see and decipher much more.</p>
<p>In an effort to widen the circle, Morris and Watts teamed up to found the St. Thomas Astronomy Resources Society. STARS received its 501(c)(3) non profit tax status in January, Watts said.</p>
<p>Eventually, he plans to use it as a way to reach out to youth, offering them financial assistance for studying the field. For now, the organization is concentrating on educating the general public.</p>
<p><img width=”240″ vspace=”4″ border=”1″ hspace=”8″ height=”176″ align=”right” src=”/files/userfiles/image/00%202016%20NEWS%20PHOTOS/06%20June/Saturn%20(1).jpg” alt=”Saturn, as seen through a 20-inch telescope.. (Photo by Andy Watts)” title=”Saturn, as seen through a 20-inch telescope.. (Photo by Andy Watts)” />The organization has no rules and regulations yet, he said, and consequently no official membership list. But it has sponsored a few events. There have been several special observing nights for students at the VI Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy on the East End.</p>
<p>&ldquo;We set up on the ball field out there,&rdquo; Watts said.</p>
<p>Earlier this month, the group sponsored its first event open to the general public: an observing session at Botany Bay on the west end, where the absence of man-made light makes for good viewing. To be sure they didn&rsquo;t bother nearby residents, STARS limited the numbers to the first 40 people who responded to an email invitation. Unfortunately, some of those people didn&rsquo;t show up, but Watts said there were still 25 to 30 people in attendance.</p>
<p>The next event is set for Friday. There will be no moon that night, meaning it will be ideal as a Deep Sky Observing Night, Watts said. He anticipates the &ldquo;appearance&rdquo; of a wide range of cosmic phenomenon including planets, planetary nebula, globular star clusters &ldquo;and possibly a few comets.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Watts lends some equipment for observing sessions, but encourages anyone who has their own to bring it. During the June event, Watts was able to capture photos of a number of sightings, using a digital camera on his 20 inch telescope. (See accompanying photos.)</p>
<p>Those interested can get more information make a reservation to join the upcoming event, by sending an email to starsusvi@gmail.com.&nbsp;</p>

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  1. Yea before you ever say Andy Watts is a good man ask him about how he beat my mother with a 2×4 and go put her up in a house for a whole summer I spent with her.. he almost killed her he’s nothing but a drink if addict and alcoholic.. he destroyed my my mother God Rest Her sole.. don’t let that evil man near anyone he’s not trusted.. He lives in the Islands to avoid paying taxes and taking care of his children.. ask his first wife Cheyne Watts from and Bradington Fl he never paid a dime for his daughter..