Westchester Amateur Astronomers Launches Ursa Minors: Cool Astronomy Club for Young People

Westchester Amateur Astronomers Launches Ursa Minors: Cool Astronomy Club for Young People

Westchester Amateur Astronomers

Is your child fascinated by space, stars, and astronomy? We recently learned about the perfect club for them with the Westchester Amateur Astronomers, a not-for-profit organization for space enthusiasts. They recently launched Ursa Minors, a new youth division of the Westchester Amateur Astronomers. Incredibly, this is America’s first youth astronomy club! Open to astronomy enthusiasts, the group is free and open to kids age eight to age 25.

To learn more, we spoke with Eli Goldfine. Incredibly, Eli is only 11-years-old and the chairman of the Ursa Minors. Below, he shares more about the Ursa Minors and how to join.

Psst…looking for more ways to explore astronomy? Check out some of the Best Planetariums for Westchester Kids

Westchester Family: How did the Westchester Amateur Astronomers come about?

Eli Goldfine: The group started with three friends who wanted to help people view the Halley’s Comet. They called themselves the “Westchester Observers Group.” Since 1986, they started having formal meetings. In 1991, they became an official non-profit. They renamed themselves the Westchester Amateur Astronomers. Today, the WAA has over 300 members! The group includes enthusiastic amateurs, educators as well as casual stargazers and families.

Westchester Family: Who can join the Westchester Amateur Astronomers?

Eli Goldfine: The Westchester Amateur Astronomers is open to anyone who is under 25 years old who wants to learn more about astronomy and space. Membership is completely free and comes with many of the benefits of being an adult WAA member. Interested members can learn more about our events and how to join from our website.

Westchester Family: What are some activities that happen in the Westchester Amateur Astronomers?

Eli Goldfine: We offer a wide-range of events. This includes online discussions and in-person presentations. We also have lectures, group observing nights (with many telescopes), and more! Our activities are fun for everybody from absolute beginners to advanced astronomers. Additionally, families are  welcome to come to all events.

In the past, this has included observations at Ward Pound Ridge, and virtual presentations from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Incredibly, this includes a view of space from Vera Rubin Telescope and the LuSEE at Night lunar radio telescope. Additionally, there have been virtual meetings with Marc Taylor, the senior manager of the planetarium and science programs at the Hudson River Museum.

Westchester Family: Why was it important for you to join this group?

Eli Goldfine: I’ve been interested in astronomy since I was three. My dad took me to an observing night with the Amateur Astronomers Association. I got my first telescope when I was six years old.

Then, I joined the WAA when I was eight. I had ideas about youth outreach as a major program for the WAA. So, when Karen Seiter (WAA’s former president) asked if I would lead a junior council for the WAA, I said yes. Then, I suggested the name “Ursa Minors.” I’m also on the WAA’s advisory board.

Westchester Family: Why is space important for kids to learn more about?

Eli Goldfine: Space and astronomy are the future. We need the next generation of thinkers to come up with new technologies. This can expand the horizons of humanity. Additionally, I believe, studying space and astronomy gives kids a new perspective on how fragile our planet is.

Westchester Family: Anything else to add?

Eli Goldfine: Astronomy is a hobby for everyone. Firstly, you don’t have to be a “science person” to enjoy it. Secondly, people from our club come from all different ages and backgrounds. We come together for one purpose, astronomy. Finally, we genuinely believe all young people will enjoy being a part of Ursa Minors. Interested today at um.eligoldfine.com.