Local Biophilic Activity Alert: Stargazing

Hello, readers!

Meigan here once again, posting for Rookie because she has an incredibly busy schedule this week! From making the A team in Ultimate Frisbee to having numerous tests to take, lab reports to write, and so on, she’s a bit swamped. (We’ve all been there and it’s not fun!) Since she can’t post today, she’ll be posting for me on Monday, September 29 as well as Thursday, October 2.

Anyway, onward with the blog post!

Let’s start with what is biophilia.  Edward O. Wilson developed the notion of biophilia in his book Biophilia in 1984. He defined the term as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” There’s a bond between humans and other living systems. Synonyms to biophilia may include “tree hugger” to say the least!

I was introduced to the notion of biophilia last semester when I took the Global Sustainability class in the architecture school here at UVa. Tim Beatley came to the class as a guest speaker and talked about his Biophilic Cities Project. The premise of the project is to bring nature back to the concrete jungle through architecture and urban planning (like parks). I also watched his “Nature of Cities” film that highlights different biophilic projects around the world. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they have numerous economic and environmental benefits!

Posting today gives me the great opportunity to mention that there is a biophilic opportunity right in the backyards of many UVa students and community members! The Observatory Hill (aka “O’Hill” for short) astrological observatory is open to the public every first and third Friday of the month. (For more details, visit their page here.) From viewing far-off stars in the huge McCormick telescope to taking a tour through their museum, the astronomy department (and club I believe) does a great job attracting a variety of visitors. When I last visited, there was a professor giving a lecture about black holes. The friend that accompanied me stayed to listen and channel his inner (outer?) Star Trek geek.

Clear skies? Check! Image from fourthyearbucketlist.wordpress.com

Even outside of the observatory itself, there are smaller telescopes set up around which faculty operate to show you something cool. They are always willing to share knowledge, so definitely try to visit as many viewing stations as you can during your visit! Additionally, visitors will BOYB — Bring Your Own Blanket — to simply lay under the stars and enjoy the view. When I’ve gone, I’ve been lucky enough to see shooting stars!

The McCormick telescope. Image from astro.virginia.edu
When you look through the huge telescope, be prepared to see stars! Image from fourthyearbucketlist.wordpress.com

This Friday, Green Grounds will be going to the observatory! Join us as we make the long trek up O’Hill. We will gather at 8:30 by Crossroads in the O’Hill dining building. Bring snacks, warm clothes, flashlights (for going up), and blankets!

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