Alumnus donates telescope to Greencastle-Antrim HS

Shawn Hardy
Jeff Shaffer decided to donate this Newtonian telescope to Greencastle-Antrim High School after reading about Kyle Andruczk's interest in astronomy, including starting an astronomy club the school. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Greencastle-Antrim High School students can now set their sights on the stars thanks to the donation of an 8-inch Newtonian telescope.

Jeff Shaffer of Greencastle, a 1970 G-A graduate, presented the telescope on Thursday, Feb. 14, and spoke about the sky with members of the new astronomy club. The club was initiated by senior Kyle Andruczk and formed this year with co-advisers Linda Singley and Zeke Flores.

Kyle attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences last summer. He talked about his interest in science, especially physics and astrophysics, and starting an astronomy club in an August article in the Echo Pilot, which Shaffer read.

After Shaffer got a new telescope, he remembered the article and decided to donate his old telescope to his alma mater rather than sell it.

There are online resources, but G-AHS previously did not have a physical telescope.

Kyle thanked Shaffer for his generous donation and is looking forward to finding a good spot for the telescope, star parties and night viewings.

A mechanical engineer, Shaffer retired after 37 years at Mack Trucks in Hagerstown and is a member of the TriState Astronomers.

"Astronomy is so different than everyday life," Shaffer said. "Things are not always what they seem."

He explained that tiny spots actually can be large suns and "this earth we are standing on is going 67,000 mph around the sun while spinning like a top."

Telescopes collect light and magnify an image and the first working telescope was constructed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1668.

"His design is still used today and is known as a Newtonian telescope," said Shaffer, who explained how the telescope works, how to set it up and how to use it.

He also encouraged the students to learn more about the TriState Astronomers, which meets monthly at the William Brish Planetarium in Hagerstown and holds a variety of outreach activities.

The group hosts star parties twice a year at Antietam National Battlefield, which draw hundreds of people in good weather. The next star parties are planned from sunset until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13.

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