Don’t be surprised if you come across student Serag Badr gazing through a large telescope in a Wageningen park. Serag recently founded the astronomy association WASA, and he dreams of one day having his own company ‘in space’. Student editor Laura Bergshoef accompanied him one evening, stargazing with him and quizzing him about his passion.
A cold night wind whistles through the park next to one of the star-shaped blocks of flats close to the campus. Walking across a big patch of grass in the dark is student Serag Badr, carrying a large telescope. Yellow light shines through the windows of a few student rooms in the distance. ‘Look, the clouds are slowly drifting off over there,’ calls Serag, pointing skywards. He puts the telescope down, unfolds the tripod and focusses the lens on the moon. ‘If we are lucky, we’ll clearly see meteorites, planets, Orion and the Andromeda galaxy.’
Serag is a third-year Bachelor’s student of Land and Water Management and the founder of Wageningen Astronomy Student Association (WASA), also known as Aldebaran. The association was started six months ago and is not officially recognized yet. But there are already two full WhatsApp groups with more than 200 members, and a further 100 are taking part through other channels. They sometimes arrange to meet in the evening, Covid measures permitting, to go stargazing together.
Serag: ‘Last summer we watched the Perseids from this very park. They are a meteor shower that that leaves light-emitting stripes in the sky. They are also called falling stars. That was the first WASA meeting. I distributed flyers the week before and a lot more people came along than expected: about 60. Members can also attend lectures and events related to astronomy on campus.’