One thing that always enhances learning is passion! Every spring, Professor Downing, Associate Professor of Economics and Adjunct Professor of Astronomy, brings his Astronomy class to Camp Casey for some practical hands-on viewing of the moon, nebulae and constellations. Camp Casey is far away from the city lights and other light pollution, making it ideal for night-sky viewing.
“It’s not so much about academics but the process,” Professor Downing said. Students get the opportunity to experience viewing the night sky through a telescope that they themselves setup and align. They experience the romance of being outdoors and viewing the sky, instead of simply reviewing images on a laptop from telescopes setup around the world.
While at Camp Casey this year Professor Downing demonstrated a great view of the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, as well as Jupiter and three of its four moons. He explained that spring is the best time to view Saturn and its rings.
“I became an economics teacher because of stories my parents told about growing up in the depression and seeing the need to find ways to help solve economic problems,” Professor Downing states on his website. “I teach astronomy because it is very fun.”
While at Camp Casey Professor Downing uses a 25” f/5 Obsession telescope. The Newtonian reflector with a Dobsonian mount combines great optics, for viewing and portability. The telescope is housed year-round at Camp Casey, so it’s always ready for Professor Downing and other SPU faculty to roll out and use when they are visiting.
Guests who have the pleasure of meeting Professor Downing at Camp Casey will quickly pick up on his passion. He is always willing to provide insights and commentary about the night sky. The Camp Casey staff make a point to let guests know if he is planning to pull out the telescope while they are here. He’ll certainly stage some impromptu star-gazing for anyone willing to look and learn.
The telescope is one of several outdoor education opportunities available at Camp Casey Conference Center. If you are looking for an outdoor education venue for your class or group, please contact us and we will gladly work with you to set up an experience you will not forget.