Reach for the Stars: Nonprofit connecting Brownsville community and space sciences through outreach

Local News

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) – Brownsville families stargazed and learned about the cosmos during a community event held at the Southmost Library by the South Texas Astronomical Society (STARS) Thursday evening.  

Event attendee looking at the moon through a telescope. [Photograph: Salvador Castro]

STARS is a non-profit organization that focuses on space science community outreach through space-themed events to inspire the public and share research in the field being done in the Rio Grande Valley.  

Recently, the organization partnered with the Brownsville school district and Children’s Museum to host an event where students were able to get watch astronauts aboard the International Space Station and listen to them answer prerecorded questions live.  

Thursday evening, STARS held its first public library event since October 2019.

Though it cannot easily be seen in this part of the world, the event was thrown in conjunction with the Southern Delta Aquariids meteor shower that is visible from mid-July to mid-August each year. 

Dozens of families with young children enjoyed a planetarium show and a presentation on astronomical research being done in the Valley, as well as activities and views of the moon through telescopes.  

Executive Director Victor De Los Santos gave a presentation on comets and asteroids and showed photographs of galaxies taken at the Cristina Torres Memorial Observatory at Resaca de la Palma State Park.  

“Over the past couple of months, we’ve been slowly coming out of the pandemic and getting comfortable with doing shows again and doing outreach events again,” said De Los Santos.  

After the presentation, the curious young and old were able to ask their burning questions about asteroids, comets, and galaxies and have them answered by De Los Santos and researcher, Victor Perez. 

Pedro and Aliyah Rodriguez mixing ingredients with dry ice to make a comet. [Photo: Salvador Castro]

Southmost area resident, Pedro Rodriguez found out about the event online and brought his six-year-old daughter Aliyah to the event.

“This is something that she’s really into, space, stars, and the planets. So, I wanted to help her continue to peruse her interests,” said Rodriguez as he explained that she usually learns about space through YouTube videos.  

“There’s moonquakes,” said Aliyah when asked what she’s learned about space. “The moon shakes and it opens up!” 

“She taught me that,” laughed Rodriguez. “I looked it up online and sure enough there’s proof [of moonquakes.] 

As more people find out about Brownsville becoming the next space city and move to the area, part of the organization’s mission is to ensure that locals can access those opportunities.  

Media Outreach Director/Designer for STARS, Marija ‘Maki’ Jette, says partnerships with community entities like the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, help make that possible.  

“There’s a lot of talent down here, there is a lot of kids that want to do this, the only thing that they need is for someone to show them the way,” said Jette. “We are hoping to work with the city and all the stakeholders to make sure that this dream is possible for every child, no matter who they are or where they come from.”  

STARS will be launching model rockets at the Lunada Night Market at Linear Park in Brownsville on July 17. For more information, you can call (956) 537-8390. 

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